Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Asian Games torch, paraded across Piaynemo Island and then carried around the town of Waisai, has promoted the magnificent beauty of Raja Ampat tourism in West Papua Province.

Travelling around 53 cities and districts in 18 provinces in Indonesia by crossing the land and sea of the country as far as 18 thousand kilometers, the Asian Games torch arrived in Raja Ampat on July 26, 2018.

The arrival of the Asian Games torch has a tremendous impact on promoting the tourism potential of Raja Ampat, which is also termed as the "last paradise on earth."

Asian Games 2018 is not only a multi-sport event but also a momentum to promote Indonesian culture and tourism, including that in Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat District Head Abdul Faris Umlati and the people of the district were very enthusiastic to welcome the Torch Relay Asian Games 2018, which has passed through the Piaynemo Island that offers some of the most spectacular scenery in West Papua.

West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan remarked that the stopover of Asian Games torch relay parade at Raja Ampat has became an opportunity to promote local tourism, especially of the island of Piaynemo.

Although small in size, Piaynemo Island is worth an exploration, with hiking as the most popular thing to do.

In addition, Piaynemo is also popular for its famous star-shaped cave when seen from above.

In order to view the cave clearly, tourists need to climb the surrounding hills and explore the nearby landscape, which features stunning blue sea and comfortable nuance.

For Indonesia, the 18th Asian Games, the largest multi-sport event in Asia, is the best opportunity to promote its tourist destinations.

A total of 16,920 athletes and officials from 45 Asian countries have been registered for the Games. Overall, more than 11 thousand athletes will vie for medals in 40 sports and 67 disciplines.

The Asian Games is not just a sporting event but also an opportunity to conduct tourism promotion, including that in Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat is home to a variety of unique plants as well as amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and hundreds of bird species, such as the famous birds of paradise and the flightless cassowary.

The islands of Waigeo, Misol, Kofiau, Batanta, and Salawati are some of the more than 1.5 thousand islands in Raja Ampat that have rich bird biodiversity.

The Flora and Fauna International has recorded 173 bird species in Waigeo island, 141 species in Misol islands, and more than 50 species in Kofian island.

Thus, in these three islands of Raja Ampat, more than 300 bird species have been recorded, of which 94, including 11 endemic ones, are protected.

Based on a research conducted in the West Waigeo Nature Reserve, there are 27 mammalian species, including bandikut (Echymipera kalubu), spotted cuscus (Phalanger maculatus), striped opossum (Dactylopsila trivirgata), bats, and tree rats.

The survey in South Misool Nature Reserve recorded 159 bird species, including four birds of paradise and five bat species, and numerous protected rare birds.

There are yellow-crested white cockatoo birds (Cacatua galerita), forest kingfishers (Halcyon macleayii), julang Irians (Aceros plicatus), king parrots (Probosciger aterrimus), parrots (Eclectus roratus), red-black-headed parrots (Eclectus roratus lory), Mambruk Viktoria (Goura victoria), cassowaries, Paradisaea sp., and maleo (maleo Magrocephalus).

Once the visitors arrive in the forest of Raja Ampat, they will be greeted by these lovely birds with their songs, which are found and heard nowhere else around the world.

Hence, serious efforts must be made to protect and preserve the forests in Raja Ampat.

The local communities of Raja Ampat District, on realizing their dependence on forests, are working to save and preserve their forest areas from illegal logging conducted by irresponsible people.

The local communities have come to the realization that forests are crucial for their health and well-being as well as for the wildlife and the planet at large.

Decades of exploitation have destroyed and degraded much of the natural forests and threatened the habitats of rare and endangered species.

Hence, the forests of Waigeo Island in Raja Ampat need to be protected and preserved in order to prevent the habitat of the birds of paradise from becoming extinct.

Apart from being known as an object of scenic marine tourism, the Raja Ampat Islands District also holds potential wealth of outstanding land, with more than 300 species of birds in its forests.

With over 1.5 thousand large and small islands, and many of them under protection status, Raja Ampat is popular for its unique biodiversity of both flora and fauna.

Foreign tourists, especially nature lovers, who have visited Raja Ampat admitted that they were mesmerized by the beauty of the Waigeo Island forest.

The tourists visiting Raja Ampat remarked that they admire the Warkesi forest area in Waigeo Island, where they spotted several beautiful birds of paradise in the trees.

During the visit to the forest, they were captivated by the delicately tinted flowers that fill the air with their scent and the lofty trees, with their rich foliage of living green.

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2018