The ambition is supported by the fact that the 2.2 cycling race, featuring the Men Elite category, has been recognized by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which is the world governing body for sports cycling and oversees international competitive cycling events.
Hence, the Riau provincial government has proposed the inclusion of Tour de Siak into the Wonderful Indonesia calendar of events.
Riau had three tourism events -- Bakar Tongkang in Rokan Hilir District, Pacu Jalur in Kuantan Singingi, and Bono Surfing in Pelalawan -- that have so far been included in the national tourism calendar of events, according to Riau Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman.
Another big plan for Tour de Siak is to extend its route up to Malacca, Malaysia.
"Hopefully, next year, it would be materialized," the governor stated while expressing hope that in the long term, its route would also cover other regions in Riau.
The Riau governor, accompanied by Siak District Head Syamsuar and Deputy Chairman of the Indonesian Cyclist Association Beni Subaggia, officially kicked off the Tour de Siak, on the evening of Sept 17.
Earlier on the same day, hundreds of people participated in a fun bike organized to highlight the implementation of Tour de Siak.
"The fun bike is part of a series of activities to kick off Tour de Siak 2018. It is aimed at giving an opportunity to the public to participate," Wan Saiful Efendi, spokesman of the Siak district administration, remarked.
The fun bike event started from the yard of Siak Palace and concluded at the Siak Bermada square. The organizing committee provided a motorcycle and several mountain bikes as prizes of the fun bike.
As many as 69 cyclists, grouped in nine foreign teams and six domestic teams, are taking part in the annual sports tourism event.
The foreign teams are Seven Eleven Cycling Team of the Philippines, Kinan Cycling Team of Japan, Pro Cycling Stats of Cambodia, Nex CCN Cycling Team of the Philippines, St. George Continent Cycling Team of Australia, Go For Gold Cycling Team of the Philippines, Nice Ethiopia Cycling Project of Ethiopia, Terengganu Cycling Team of Malaysia, and Sapura Cycling Team of Malaysia.
The four domestic teams are KFC Cycling Team, PGN Cycling Team, ACC Cycling Team, and BSP Siak.
Champions of the Tour de Siak 2017 participating in this year`s event include Indonesian cyclist Aiman Cahyadi who joins Malaysia`s Sapura Cycling Team, Selamat Juangga of the KFC Cycling Team, and Muhammad Imam Arifin also of the KFC Cycling Team.
The race comprises four stages this year, as compared to three last year, Fauzi Asni, head of the Siak district tourism office, stated recently. The additional stage is Siak-Sungai Apit, stretching 115.16 kilometers (km).
The four stages are Siak-Dayun, covering 154.18 km; Siak-Sungai Apit, 115.18 km; Siak-Dayun-Buatan-Siak, 161.48 km; and the final stage is Siak City, 92.06 km.
Offering a total prize worth Rp750 million, Tour de Siak has been organized annually since 2013 to promote tourist destinations in Siak District, in particular, and in Riau Province, in general.
Siak District Head Syamsuar recently expressed hope that Tour de Siak would help to increase the number of domestic and foreign tourists as well as boost the local economy.
Riau Province occupies the central part of the eastern region on Sumatra Island, which straddles between Malacca Straits, South China Sea, and Berhala Straits. The province is a strategic region, as it directly faces the Malacca Straits and Singapore, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Moreover, Riau is one of the richest provinces in Indonesia, with abundant natural resources and covered by forest area.
Siak District was once the center of Islamic sultanates in Riau, called Siak Sri Indrapura. The Siak Sultanate heritage, such as the palace, is still well-preserved up until now and has become a wonderful and proud legacy of the Malay civilization for Indonesia.
Among historical tourist attractions of Siak are the Sultan Mosque, Marhum Buantan Tomb, High Density Hall, Lake Pulau Besar, River Tourism and Agro Tourism, Sultan Syarif Qasyim Forest Park, Pompa Anggrek Monument, and Kato Ships.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Riau has increased significantly, from 47,934 in 2014, to 52,971 in 2015, 61,742 in 2016, and 101,904 in 2017. The number of domestic tourists in Riau had reached 6,534,683 last year.
The province has set a target of attracting at least 6.5 million domestic and foreign tourists in 2018. Riau is quite popular among Malaysian tourists.
Editing by Suharto