Indonesia has targeted to lure a total of 170 thousand foreign tourists during the 2018 Asian Games.
Bogor, W Java (ANTARA News) - Four days from Tuesday (Aug 14), the 18th Asian Games will officially be opened at Jakarta`s Gelora Bung Karno stadium. It is the second time that Indonesia would host Asia`s largest multi-sport event after its debut in 1962.

The Asian people`s focus of attention will turn to Jakarta and Palembang, the capital city of South Sumatra Province, because the two cities have been chosen to co-host the event, which will take place from Aug 18 to Sept 2.

During the event, several thousands of athletes and officials from 45 countries across Asia will be in the country. But they are not the only foreign guests that Indonesia expects.

The host countries of many international sport events often take advantage of the visitors for boosting their respective tourism industries. Indonesia is doing a similar move.

In this regard, Indonesia itself has targeted to lure a total of 170 thousand foreign tourists during the 2018 Asian Games. This targeted number is actually lower than that of South Korea when it hosted the 2014 Asian Games.

At that time, South Korea had set a target of attracting 200 thousand foreign visitors.

By considering Indonesia`s rich tourist destinations and attractions, as well as its cultural heritage and culinary legacy of its diverse ethnic groups, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya was recently quoted by local media as saying that he was confident of reaching the target.

The weakening trend of rupiah`s exchange rate against the greenback may also encourage foreign travelers to visit Indonesia during the Asian Games because they are financially more capable as a result of the weakening rupiah.

Thus, this is the most appropriate time for the foreign sports enthusiasts and holidaymakers to travel to the archipelago to enjoy its diverse tourist sites as well as the heritage and legacy of its multi-cultural societies.

For those wanting to make an adventure trip and enjoy the country`s underwater paradises, Indonesia has lots of places that can meet their demand. Among them are the ones that have gained international recognition, such as the marine parks of Bunaken in North Sulawesi Province and Sabang Island in Aceh Province.

However, they can also visit the Cendrawasih Bay National Park in Manokwari District, West Papua Province, because, according to head of this national park Ben G Saroy, the foreign guests cannot just do snorkeling and diving activities.

Instead, during their visit to this marine national park, they can also watch and even swim with whale sharks (Rhincodon typus). "Our marine national park has lots of wonderful snorkeling and diving spots, particularly located in the waters of Auri Isles and Wondama Bay."

"Those wanting to watch and swim with the whale sharks can visit the whale shark center in Kwatisore, Nabire District," he noted.

The wonders of the marine national park`s underwater paradise are not only due to the well-preserved coral reefs but also due to the wreckage of the World War II aircraft, which have become home to various coral reef fish, he remarked.

Those wishing to visit the national park can do so through Kwatisore Village, Nabire District, Papua Province; Mount Botak of South Manokwari (West Papua Province); and Aisandami Village in Duairi Bay Subdistrict of Wondama Bay District (West Papua).

"We are going to build resorts for visitors at these three gates. At the moment, the number of local travel agents is still limited, but tourists wanting to visit the national park can use the tour operators from outside Papua and West Papua Provinces," he remarked.

In helping local people gain benefit from the natural beauty that they have, the national park authorities have been working with the local government and the World Wildlife Fund to develop a people-based tourism industry, Saroy revealed.

Indonesia not only possesses various wonders of nature, namely the Cendrawasih Bay National Park, which is also recorded as a home to at least 950 coral fish; Lake Toba in North Sumatra Province; and Komodo dragons in East Nusa Tenggara Province`s Komodo Island but also unique cultural heritage.

In Palembang, which co-hosts the 18th Asian Games, the city`s Songket traders have geared up to welcome foreign tourists during the multi-sport event.

One of the traders of this traditional woven fabric, Zainal Arifin, told Antara that he would attempt to take advantage of the foreign visitor flow by making his shop, "Zainal Songket," remain on the top of the list of tourist destinations in South Sumatra.

For this purpose, he would employ two or three Songket weavers at his shop to enable the visiting foreigners to see the weaving process of this traditional fabric by themselves, Arifin noted.

"By doing so, the foreign visitors are expected to appreciate this hand-woven fabric much more than the machine-made cloth," he revealed, adding that he would employ around 40 Songket weavers at his shop during the Asian Games.

Prior to the convening of Asia`s largest multi-sport event, the traditional weavers had been working at home for decades. But during the Asian Games, they would remain at his shop to explain to visitors the way they would weave and to also see the foreigners appreciate their works.

"They will be proud of what they do when they see many foreigners traveling to Palembang to buy the Songket," Arifin, who also sells other traditional clothing, including Jumputan (dotted and floral-motif) cloth, stated.

With a shop at Ki Gede Ing Suro Street of the city, Arifin has been popular among the Songket lovers due to his engagement in this business for decades.

For the 18th Asian Games, he has kept around eight thousand pieces of Songket in stock and set selling prices from Rp250 thousand to Rp7.5 million per piece, he added.

The whole pieces of Songket, usually made in silk or cotton with unique patterns of gold or silver threads, are the works of local weavers residing in Palembang and several districts in South Sumatra, he added.

With its diverse tourist destinations and attractions, as well as the hospitality of its people and cultural heritage of its multicultural societies, Indonesia is expected to enjoy benefits of being the host of this Asia`s largest multi-sport event.

Edited by Bustanudin

Reporter: Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2018