"Social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Line, have been used to promote Biak`s tourist attractions," Turbey Ony Dangeubun, head of the Biak tourism office, stated.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Biak Numfor District was a popular tourist destination in Papua in 1990s, before Raja Ampat was "discovered."

The district offers several types of tourist attractions from the beauty of nature, historical wreckage of World War (WW) II, and eco-tourism of biodiversity-rich forests of Papua, as well as the unique traditional art and culture of Papuan tribes.

These attractions will be promoted in the annual Biak Munara Wampasi (BMW) to be organized in Biak from July 1 to 4, 2017.

Held for the first time in 2012, the BMW festival has been included in the national tourism calendar. Other festivals in Papua that have been included in the tourism calendar include Baliem Valley Festival and Asmat Festival.

The festival will be officially launched in the Jakarta Convention Center here on March 30.

The launch, to be organized by the Tourism Ministry and the Biak Numfor District Administration, would coincide with Deep & Extreme Indonesia event and is meant to promote the festival, particularly among divers, adventurers, underwater sports lovers, and e-tourism tourists, Biak District Head Thomas Ondy stated recently.

Ondy hoped that the festival would be able to attract both domestic and foreign tourists. For that purpose, the Biak tourism office is promoting the festival on social media.

"Social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Line, have been used to promote Biaks tourist attractions," Turbey Ony Dangeubun, head of the Biak tourism office, stated on March 18.

All information concerning the festival, in particular, will be disseminated on social media, he added.

The Biak administration will rope in an event organizer to ensure punctuality and smooth implementation of the festival.

The Biak Numfor district government has allocated funds worth Rp1 billion through the local Tourism Office to ensure the success of the cultural festival.

Last year, the festival was held from July 1 to 4 to showcase traditional Japanese "katana" vintage samurai swords from World War II.

This year, the administration believes the festival needs innovations to attract more domestic and foreign tourists.

He is optimistic that the festival would be a success, as the event is already included in the national tourism agenda set by the tourism ministry.

The BMW festival will feature the traditional snap mor fishing, Mansusui/wairon boat race, a visit to the Padaido/Aimando islands, Biak 10-kilometer marathon, and a traditional art and cultural expo.

Meanwhile, the Papua administration has focused on developing tourism in the districts of Biak Numfor and Supiori since 2016.

"So far, two regions have become a priority for tourism development, notably the districts of Biak Numfor and Supiori," Ysh Is Matutina, head of the tourism office of Papua Province, stated in Jayapura.

In Biak Numfor, the priority is to develop the Sausapor Beach. Several other tourist attractions and destinations are also being developed.

In fact, the number of foreign tourists visiting Biak Numfor District, Papua Province, increased to 3,399 people in 2016, as compared to 1,779 in the previous year.

The increase was the result of intensified tourism promotion activities carried out by the Biak District administration, Enias Rumbewas, spokesman of the Biak Numfor district government, noted recently.

Foreign tourists from Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, China, and several European countries, among others, visit Biak.

The number of domestic tourist arrivals also surged from some 28 thousand in 2015 to 30 thousand in 2016.

As for West Papua and Papua Provinces as a whole, the number of foreign tourist arrivals in 2016 totaled some 3.5 million.

"Among the favorite tourist destinations in Papua Province are Wamena, Biak, Jayapura, Mimika, Merauke, and Asmat as well as several districts in the central mountainous area," Hans Menanti of the Papua Tourism Office stated.

In West Papua Province, most foreign tourists visited Raja Ampat District, Sorong, Bintuni Bay, and Manokwari, he revealed.

Menanti is optimistic that the number of foreign tourists visiting Papua will increase significantly following the Indonesian governments policy to provide visa-free facility to several countries.

Papua is popular among foreign tourists due to its maritime scenery, unique culture and traditions, as well as historical remnants and sites.

As for domestic tourists visiting Papua and West Papua, the number reached some five million last year.

Indonesias easternmost island of Papua is one of the worlds largest and highest tropical islands and is incredibly diverse and different from any other on Earth.

Papua Island, which comprises West Papua and Papua, is home to some 250 tribes that retain the ancient traditional cultures and over 250 indigenous languages and dialects.(*)

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2017