Kendari municipal government has recently inaugurated the three mangrove ecotourism areas, and this time they continue to attract a lot of visitors from the city of Kendari and beyond almost every day.
Seeing the increasing number of visitors to these three areas of the mangrove ecotourism, the Kendari municipal government is now involving the local communities in managing the areas.
According to Asrun, the mayor of Kendari, the local communities are involved in the management of Lahundape, Purirano, and Bungkutoko mangrove ecotourism areas so that they can also have a sense of belonging, and to participate in keeping these areas from encroachment of irresponsible parties.
"We involve local communities in the conservation and management of mangrove forests so that they may also have the sense of responsibility and participate in preserving the area from encroachment by the irresponsible parties," Asrun remarked in Kendari on Sunday.
The mayor of Kendari reiterated that Lahundape, Purirano, and Bungkutoko are mangrove ecotourism areas along the coast of Kendari Bay that involve local communities in managing the mangrove trekking areas.
According to him, people who are involved in the mangrove trekking management of more than 35 hectare will get a big profit from parking revenues from tourists who visited the mangrove forests.
"We hope the mangrove ecotourism areas should not be encroached upon, so they must be properly controlled with the involvement of local communities," Asrun affirmed.
The local government of Kendari City is making every effort to preserve mangrove forests as the laboratories of nature.
Asrun remarked that mangrove trees are not foreign to the people of the city. Mangroves have lot of benefits, as they maintain environmental balance and serve as a natural laboratory.
"Therefore, let us continue to preserve these mangrove forests," Asrun said, adding that mangrove forests are also spread in numerous areas in the city of Kendari, in the villages of Tondonggeu, Sambuli, Purirano, Korumba, Lahundape, Anggoeya, and around the island of Bungkutoko.
Especially in Bungkutoko Island, the mangrove forests are being developed into mangrove trekking area for educational tourism by coordinating with the local communities.
This small island, located just at the mouth of Kendari Bay and off the coast of Kendari city, is surrounded by white sandy beaches and very dense mangrove forests with many different species of birds.
With its beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, Bungkutoko Island has long been a favorite destination for visitors and local residents alike.
On the island of Bungkutoko, there are numerous pristine mangrove forests, where tourists enjoy trekking.
Tourists who come to this island will have the opportunity to explore the mangrove forest ecosystem, to fish, and to enjoy the variety of flora and fauna.
In addition to Bungkutoko Island, all the mangrove forests along the coast of Kendari will also be preserved, because they have a lot of benefits for humans and the environment.
In the meantime, Kendari Regional Legislative Assembly (DPRD) member Heny Handayani Lantjita has called on the Kendari city administration to also involve investors, in addition to local communities, in managing the mangrove trekking area.
"By involving investor in managing the Bungkutoko mangrove trekking area, the local revenue earned from the management of the region can be greater," she underlined.
Further, Heny added that by involving professional investors, the mangrove trekking area will become a favorite ecotourism destination on the island.
She highlighted that besides mangrove tourism, underwater tourism is also attracting visitors to the island of Bungkutoko.
"Tourists who come to the island can also go surfing, diving, and snorkeling," she stated.
She noted that underwater ecosystems and mangrove forests around the island can be the mainstay attractions in Kendari, because Bungkutoko island ecosystem is relatively good compared to other small islands there.
Spending just a day or two on the Bungkutoko Island will not be enough for visitors to enjoy the hospitality of the local community and their interesting culture and traditions, and to relish the beauty of nature at sunrise.
In addition to the natural panorama of the coast, the underwater world of Bungkutoko Island, with various types of coral reefs, species of fish and other marine biota, is extremely appealing.
Therefore, the Kendari city government is making every effort to develop the 500-hectare island of Bungkutoko as a tourist attraction by promoting it through a variety of tourism activities aimed at domestic and foreign tourists.
Besides Bungkutoko Island, tourist attractions that can be managed optimally to boost local revenue include Nambo beach and Bokori Island.
Bokori is one of the small islands with its scenic beauty, warm waters, and white sandy beaches. It is an ideal getaway in Southeast Sulawesi Province for tourists and local residents to unwind.
Hence, the Southeast Sulawesi provincial government is committed to promoting the marine tourism at Bokori Island in the province, according to local Tourism and Creative Economy Office Chief Zainal Koedoes.
"As part of our commitments to develop Bokori Island into a tourist destination in the province, we will soon establish the Technical Implementation Unit Service (UPTD) to manage the tourism sector," Zainal remarked.(*)