Manado, N Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - The North Sulawesi provincial government has called on the local Tourism Office to increase tour packages and cultural attractions to draw as many tourists as possible.

"The tourism sector has become a prima donna in this area, so districts and cities should continue to promote the tourism potential in their respective areas," Regional Government Secretary Edwin Silangen remarked here on Friday.

Silangen noted that each region in North Sulawesi holds its own tourism potential that is at par with that in other areas in Indonesia.

In comparison with other Indonesian tourist destinations, North Sulawesi`s nature, culture, and marine tourism are quite promising, so they need to be managed better.

To develop the tourism sector, the provincial and district tourism offices need to package it in an attractive manner, so that tourists are interested in visiting the existing tourist destinations, he noted.

North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey has set a target to attract 120 thousand foreign tourists in 2018.

"The target should be supported by ongoing efforts focused on tourism promotion and infrastructure development," the governor remarked here recently.

Direct flights connecting Manado with several cities in China has helped to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals in North Sulawesi.

The governor expressed belief that the tourism industry holds potential to boost the province`s economic growth.

"We will continue to develop the tourism industry, which is a driving force of the regional economy," he noted.

The number of foreign tourists visiting North Sulawesi Province has, so far, reached some 70 thousand a year.

The province offers a variety of natural panoramas, with beaches, hills, volcanic mountains, and scenic plateaus.

The scenic and biodiverse Bunaken Marine National Park, which is some 10 kilometers from Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi Province, is one of the most popular tourist destinations. The park has been inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage List.

Bunaken has diverse marine life, with 70 different corals, five species of sea turtles, several fish species, and even white and black tip reef sharks, the almost extinct dugongs, and barracudas.

Reporter: Karel A Polakitan
Editor: Otniel Tamindael
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