Due to its underwater beauty, Padaido Island is eligible to be developed into a tourist attraction ..."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Attempting to develop the Biak Numfor district in Indonesias easternmost province of Papua into a leading international tourist destination, the local government is keen to host Sail Cenderawasih Bay as part of Sail Indonesia.

Sail Indonesia is an annual yacht rally that has run every year since 2000, and is supported by the Indonesian central government as well as the local government centers at the destinations the sail participants will visit as they cross the country.

It is a series of sailing and other events, supported by high profile tourist destinations to international yachtsmen and women with a view to expanding the tourism potential and introducing visitors to delightful natural and cultural features of the Indonesian archipelago that they might otherwise not visit.

The Sail Cenderawasih Bay, if implemented, would increase foreign tourist arrivals, Biak Numfor Culture and Tourism Office Head Yubelius Usior stated.

In addition, the foreign tourists coming to the district will have the opportunity to recognize the potential of natural and cultural resources of various districts in the Gulf of Cendrawasih.

The plan to host the international maritime event of Sail Cenderawasih needs assessment and understanding along with the tourism departments in Cenderawasih Bay which covers the districts of Biak Noemfoor, Supiori, Waropen, Yapen Islands, and Nabire, Usior stated.

The future plan about Sail Cenderawasih Bay has been discussed with the representatives of the Tourism Ministry at the opening of Biak Munara Wampasi (BMW) cultural festival at Numfor Island, according to him.

Various potentials of tourism, fisheries and culture in Cenderawasih Bay are very natural and have a special quirk that needs to be combined with the tourism flagship program, Usior admitted.

"The marine nature, culture and forests in Cenderawasih Bay have a lot of potential and need to be made a joint program to increase tourist visits to the region," he remarked.

Every year, Biak Numfor holds a BMW cultural festival to promote a variety of native indigenous cultural attractions and to bring foreign tourists to Padaido Island.

Held from July 1-4, 2016, the BMW cultural festival showcased Japanese traditional "katana" samurai swords from World War II (WW-II) vintage.

The festival was expected to help boost Padaido Islands tourism and the local economy, and will especially benefit traders and small and micro businesses.

The local authorities continue to develop marine tourism in Padaido and Aimando islands by improving various supporting facilities and infrastructure such as home-stay, roads, seaport, and streetlights, according to Usior.

The local government has made Padaido and Aimando Marine Park the center of marine tourism with activities featuring underwater diving around the islands, Usior remarked.

The cluster of Saerrei Bay in Padaido Island stores various types of underwater natural beauty, CEO of WWF Indonesia Benja Mambai admitted separately.

"Due to its underwater beauty, Padaido Island is eligible to be developed into a tourist attraction in the district of Biak Numfor," Mambai said.

In addition to the potential for tourism, Padaido Island region has become a center of research and surveys, nature conservation education, and cultural development of Biak Numfor, he noted.

Further, the Biak Numfor Culture and Tourism Office was determined to develop marine tourism at the Padaido Island to make the district an international tourist destination in eastern Indonesia.

Comprising 30 small islands, Padaido is a small archipelago with its unique attractions that can be developed to make it a leading tourist destination in West Papua.

The cluster of Padaido Islands has alluring beaches and offers varied habitats, such as atolls, reef edges, and underwater caves.

Therefore, the islands need to be developed to boost the local economy by involving the local people, investors, and environmental observers.

Padaido is derived from the local language, which means "inexpressible beauty", and in the past, it was named Schouter after William Schouter, a Dutch sailor who first discovered the islands in 1602.

It takes just an hour from the Bosnik port to reach Padaido using a motor boat, and about 3 to 4 hours using a canoe paddle to the islands, which offer an array of attractions, underwater caves, and tunnels.

The beaches on those islands have cotton-white sand and clear waters allowing the sunlight to reach the seabed, thereby enabling the visitors to enjoy the marine life from the mainland.

Besides having the greatest biodiversity of coral ecosystems in the world, other things that the divers should not miss are challenging underwater caves to be explored, the wrecks of sunken ships, aircraft, and tanks.

Padaido is one of those places blessed with the greatest biodiversity of coral ecosystems in the world, according to a study conducted by Biodiversity Conservation Network (BCN).

The waters of Padaido have 95 coral species and 155 species of fish, such as various types of reef sharks and octopuses and numerous other maritime riches.

The Padaido Island has a reef area spanning about 9,252 acres and 328.2 acres of deep reefs.

Some international divers believe the Padaido beach area has the most spectacular coral reefs in the world, and therefore, this marine park is perfect for diving and snorkeling.

The Biak Numfor district government in Papua aims to promote regional development and empower the local communities who live in primitive conditions.

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2016