Indonesia showcases main tourist destinations during Asian Games torch relay

Indonesia showcases main tourist destinations during Asian Games torch relay

The Asian Games torch relay in Raja Ampat, West Papua, July 26. (ANTARA /Hendar)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Asian Games 2018 torch is currently being relayed in 53 cities and districts in 18 provinces, covering a total distance of over 18 thousand kilometers, via land, air, and even under the sea, similar to what happened when it arrived in Raja Ampat on July 26.

The flame, a merging of flame from India, the first host of the Asian Games in 1951, and Merapen flame from Central Java, Indonesia, this year`s host of the Asian Games, was kept in a tinderbox while diving.

The diver who took the torch while diving in crystal clear turquoise sea waters off Piaynemo Island, West Papua, was Tri Suswati, wife of General Tito Karnavian, Chief of the National Police.

Suswati was accompanied by Nadine Chandrawinata, a beautiful Indonesian actress, and eight other divers grouped under the Indonesian Female Divers (WASI) Cub headed by her.

She dove at a depth of three meters for nearly one minute with the torch in her hand and later returned the torch to Chandrawinata.

Raja Ampat is currently one of the best marine tourist destinations in Indonesia, if not the world. It is a crown jewel, thanks to its crystal clear turquoise sea waters and several isles covered by a thick green carpet of dense forests and mangrove swamps.

The stunning natural beauty of Raja Ampat isles, located on the northwestern tip of the Indonesian province of West Papua, is often seen as a heaven on earth, where dreams of divers come true and nature lovers find a perfect place.

Raja Ampat, which literally means "Four Kings," is located in the Coral Triangle, the heart of the world`s coral reef biodiversity.

The seas around Raja Ampat Isles are home to the richest varieties of species in the world, including 75 percent of all known coral species.

The Raja Ampat archipelago encompasses 15 thousand square miles of land and sea. There are around 1.8 thousand isles in Raja Ampat District.

In addition to Raja Ampat, the Asian Games torch relay also tours other main tourist destinations across Indonesia, such as Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta, Mount Bromo in East Java, Bali, Mandalika in South Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara), and Lake Toba in North Sumatra.

For Indonesia, the 18th Asian Games, the largest multi-sport event in Asia, is the best opportunity to promote its tourist destinations, particularly in Jakarta and Palembang, the two cities that will co-host the event from Aug 18 to Sept 2.

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, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said while welcoming the torch in Bali on July 24.

Hence, the Asian Games torch relay in Bali covered several tourist attractions, such as the Subak Sembung eco-tourism destination, Bajra Sandhi monument in Renon, and Garuda Wisno Kencana in Nusa Dua, as well as Tampaksiring Palace.

From Bali, the torch relay proceeded to West Nusa Tenggara Province by air. Mandalika special economic zone in Central Lombok District welcomed the torch on July 25.

"We hope the presence of the Asian Games torch in Mandalika will promote this zone not only as a beach tourism destination but also as a sport tourism destination for the public in general, and tourists in particular," Ngurah Wirawan, construction and operational director of PT Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (PT ITDC), said.

PT ITDC will build various sport facilities as Mandalika as a very long coastal line suitable for water sports and marathon, such as the TNI (Indonesian Defense Forces) Marathon, which will be organized in Sept 2018, according to him.

"So, we will change the concept for sport tourism arena, because we have tracks for paragliding, water sports, and surfing. Hopefully, in the next 5 to 10 years, Mandalika will not only remain a tourist destination but also a sport tourism destination," he remarked.

The torch relay began in Yogyakarta on July 17 and will end on Aug 17 in Jakarta, a day before the Asian Games 2018 would be officially opened by President Joko Widodo.

The torch`s route includes Solo, Central Java Province; Blitar, Malang, Probolinggo, and Banyuwangi in East Java; Gilimanuk, Kuta, and Denpasar in Bali Province; Mataram in West Nusa Tenggara; Raja Ampat and Sorong in West Papua; Makassar in South Sulawesi; Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan; Banda Aceh in Aceh Province; Lake Toba in North Sumatra; Pekanbaru in Riau; Bukit Tinggi in West Sumatra; Jambi, Palembang, Banyuasin, and Prabumulih in South Sumatra; Bandar Lampung in Lampung; Serang in Banten; and Purwakarta, Bandung, Garut, Cianjur, and Bogor in West Java.