We are highly grateful for the welcome event."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The exotic natural beauty and unique culture of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) have charmed more than 100 foreign sailors aboard 37 yachts currently making a stopover on their way to participate in Sail Indonesia.

The yachts taking part in the Sail Indonesia 2016 Rally have come from various countries and began their journey from Darwin, Australia.

Entering Indonesia through the countrys southern gate on Koepan Beach, Kupang City, NTT, since July 25, the yachts are from Australia, France, the United States, New Zealand, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Marshall Islands, and Switzerland, among others.

The participants took part in a city tour arranged by members of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies on July 30, according to Head of the NTT Tourism and Creative Economic Office Marius Ardu Jelamu.

"We are mesmerized by the traditions, traditional dances, and culture of this region, as well as the exotic natural beauty," Mrs Beel, one of the participants, stated in Kupang on August 1.

In the evening of July 30, the Kupang municipality had hosted a gala dinner to introduce the local culinary delicacies to the participants. At the dinner, various traditional dances were organized to entertain the participants.

"We are highly grateful for the welcome event. We are pleased and really enjoying Kupang," Beel stated.

On August 2, the participants will be divided into two groups that will proceed respectively to the east toward Wini Beach in North Timor Tengah District and to the west toward Rote Isle to enjoy sightseeing in NTT.

NTT has many beautiful beaches, such as Lasiana in Kupang, Wini in North Timur Tengah District, Bena in South Timor Tengah, and Nemberala in Rote Ndao District.

Other interesting tourist attractions include Lake Three Colors in Moni (Ende District), Boti traditional kampong in South Timor Tengah, and Bena kampong in Ngada, and Komodo National Park in Labuan Bajo.

"So, the tourists will go to Rote for surfing, Alor for diving, Labuan Bajo for Komodo, and see several other beaches and culture in various regions," Jelamu remarked.

For Paul and Sue Burlinson, among the participants, their next destination is Wini, North Timor Tengah District. This is the second visit to NTT for the Burlinson family.

"The culture of NTT people is very unique. They are always friendly and welcome every visitor," Sue said.

From NTT, they will proceed to Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi, and Raja Ampat in West Papua before finally joining Sail Indonesia international maritime event in October.

Sail Indonesia is an annual yacht rally that starts from Darwin in July every year and is followed by a three-month program covering linked destinations across Indonesia. The event has been held every year since 2000, and 2016 will mark its sixteenth year.

Over one thousand yachts have participated in the Sail Indonesia rally across Indonesia during the past 15 years.

For 2016, the rally departed from Darwin on July 23. Their stopovers at various tourist destinations in Indonesia are supported by the Indonesian central government as well as local administrations across the country.

Sail Indonesia this year is called Sail Karimata Strait 2016 and will involve four provinces located on Kalimantan and Sumatra Islands: West Kalimantan, Jambi, Bangka Belitung, and Riau Islands.

Its peak event will be held in North Kayong District, West Kalimantan, on October 15 and is expected to be officially kicked off by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).

Besides the peak event, the main activities will include a national seminar on maritime affairs to be organized in Jambi on August 25, 2016; Belitung Festival on October 22; and Riau Islands Maritime Festival on October 28.

Various competitions are planned to be organized as part of the implementation of this years Sail.

Among the competitions will be a yacht race, a dragon boat race, a traditional boat race, and durian as well as "sambal" (chili condiment) contests.

Some 70 yachts will participate in Sail Karimata, in addition to warships and traditional boats.

Previous Sail Indonesia events include Sail Bunaken held in North Sulawesi in 2009, Sail Banda in Maluku in 2010, Sail Wakatobi-Belitung in Southeast Sulawesi and Bangka Balitung in 2011, Sail Morotai in North Maluku in 2012, Sail Komodo in East Nusa Tenggara in 2013, Sail Raja Ampat in West Papua in 2014, and Sail Tomini held in the provinces of Central Sulawesi and Gorontalo in 2015.

Like the other sail events, the current edition is aimed at promoting tourism and boosting regional development.

The event is expected to contribute to the development of basic infrastructure, allow provision of clean water and floating ports at least in eight districts within the four provinces.

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2016