Some 23 of the 400 surfing spots have world class waves."
Padang (ANTARA News) - Mentawai Islands, a chain of dozens of islands and islets off the western coast of Sumatra, offers some 400 surfing spots with some of the best waves to be found anywhere in the world.

District Head of Mentawai Islands Yudas Sabaggalet said here on Saturday that Mentawai Islands have become one of the most sought after surf destinations for the world class waves, a natural feature that holds a huge potential for its tourism industry.

"Some 23 of the 400 surfing spots have world class waves," the district head added.

Sabaggalet also proudly said Mentawai has the second best kind of waves in the world after Hawaii.

Around 7,000 international tourists visited Mentawai Islands for surfing each year, he revealed.

The region earned around Rp583.2 billion (US$44 million) each year from its tourism sector alone.

The local administration will be setting up a special economic region to boost the economy and tourism sector in Mentawai by developing the Trans Mentawai road to provide access and connectivity to the people in the islands.

Around 80 percent area in Mentawai Island is forest, and infrastructure development has become a challenge for the local administration in its efforts to boost its tourism sector.

Meanwhile, Chair of Indonesian Tours and Travel Association of West Sumatra Ian Hanafiah suggested that local people of Mentawai should also be involved in the development of the local tourism sector.

Foreign investment is necessary, but synergy with the local human resource and society is a must, he advised.

"In 2016, West Sumatras tourism grew quite rapidly. What is required is synergy to keep it growing," Hanafiah stressed.

The islands, which lie approximately 150km off the Sumatran coast, across the Mentawai Strait, have waves which vary in size from 2 to 15 feet.

Its broad exposure towards the vast southern Indian Ocean provides these islands with great waves all year round.

A group of indigenous people, called the Mentawai people, are still living in the islands.

The tribal people of Mentawai Islands are also known for their traditional tattoo art.

Several tribes in Mentawai are still practicing the tattoo art, a uniqueness of Mentawai special arts.

(Reporting by M.R. Denya Utama/Uu.A059/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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