Bogor, W Java (ANTARA) - A good news on Indonesia's marine tourism has come from Sabang this week. As cited by the coastal city's immigration authorities, 73 foreign yachts had arrived there during the January-June 2019 period.

This is called a good news because Sabang's position could have been strengthened in the minds of international sailors. They have made this coastal city in Aceh Province's Weh Island as one of their destinations.

Over these past four years, the Sabang Immigration authorities noted that the number of international yachters arriving in the city has even tended to increase.

Said Azhar, the Sabang Immigration officer, revealed on Saturday that the yachters came from different countries, including Malaysia, USA, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

These foreign sailors had visited Sabang to experience the diverse richness of this small island's marine tourism.

The yachts had 184 sailors onboard, and they stayed for a week in the coastal city, Azhar noted, adding that in 2018, a total of 95 foreign yachts had visited Sabang, with the figure increasing from 84 recorded in 2017.

Acting Head of Sabang's Free Trade Zone and Free Port Razuardi also confirmed that the number of visiting cruise ships and yachts had tended to increase annually.

This year, the Sabang-based National Tourism Strategic Areas (KSPN) has targeted attracting 150 foreign yachts and cruise ships.

Razuardi believes the positive trend was expected to continue owing to numerous efforts made his office and related authorities, including initiating a Sabang-Phuket-Langkawi Yacht Rally.

"We remain optimistic that the presence of these foreign sailors and tourists will help boost the local people's income and enliven tourism industries," Razuardi stated.

The frequent visits of domestic and foreign tourists, including those boarding international cruise ships and yachts, have boosted the development of Sabang's tourism sector.

This coastal city is renowned for its sandy beaches and underwater beauty with abundant snorkeling and diving spots.

Among the snorkeling and diving spots frequently visited by both local and foreign divers are the wreckage of a German ship (Sophie Rickmers), Batee Dua Gapang, Batee Meuroron, Batee Meuduro, Batee Tokong, Batee Gla, Rubiah Utara, and Rubiah Sea Garden.

Those visiting Sabang, however, will not just be offered with attractive things related to marine tourism because it is also well-known for its well-protected forest and "kilometer-zero" monument signifying Indonesia's starting point.

Thanks to the remnants of the Japanese army's fortresses scattering around Weh Island as well as the presence of Japanese and European graveyards in the coastal city, Sabang is also perceived as an attractive place for those loving heritage tourism.

Indeed, Sabang's position is undoubtedly meaningful for Indonesia's marine tourism. Therefore, it needs to be developed sustainably, and promoted globally to lure more foreign tourists and sailors.

Speaking about destinations of Indonesia's marine tourism, Sabang is just one of them. As the world's largest archipelagic state, Indonesia has abundant potential in marine tourism, which is expected to be a potential source of foreign exchange revenues for it.

According to statistical of the Tourism Ministry, an average daily spending of a yachter is expected to reach US$500 to US$1,000 with a month-long visit.

Therefore, the potential revenues that Indonesia could gain from the visiting yachts could reach up to US$600 million. By considering these potential revenues, Indonesia has been targeting the international yachters.

ANTARA noted that last year, for instance, several potential destinations of Indonesia's marine tourism beyond Bali were promoted to yachter communities in Opua, New Zealand, to lure more tourists and sailors of the country to visit the archipelago.

I Gde Pitana, currently an expert staff at the Tourism Ministry, revealed in one of the ministry's press statement that promoting the Wonderful Indonesia brand in Opua was part of a series of programs that the ministry organized for attracting 141,896 tourists from New Zealand in 2018.

The promotion program consisted of presentation and dinner reception at the Opua Yacht Club in which members of the Oyster Yacht Community were targeted to join the event.

The event was also used for introducing six international sails that Indonesia had planned to organize: the Wonderful Sail To Indonesia, Sail Indonesia – Darwin, Back To Down Under Rally, Sail Anambas to Natuna, West Kalimantan Rally, and Sail Moyo Tambora.

During the event, Indonesia introduced its diverse potential destinations of marine tourism beyond Bali to the yachters, including Wakatobi, Labuan Bajo Komodo Island, Borobudur Temple, and Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat and Labuan Bajo had even been placed by CNN International in the world's first and second best spots for snorkeling in 2015. Besides these popular destinations, Indonesia is also rich in cultural diversity.

In helping the foreign yachters get easier to come to Indonesia, the Indonesian Government has simplified several of its regulations, including the ones relating to the registration of the CIQP (Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Post-Clearance) at 19 entry-exit seaports and revocation of Clearance Approval for Indonesia Territory (CAIT), as well as online registration for getting permits through

The government has also applied a free-visa policy for citizens of chosen countries, who want to make a social-cultural visit to Indonesia. The social cultural visit visa is valid for 60 days and can be extended to 4 x 30 days.

As a result, the yachters can have a chance to remain in the Indonesian waters for six months, Pitana was quoted in the press statement as saying.

The Indonesian Government has also made another breakthrough by revoking cabotage regulation for cruise ships at five major ports in the country: Belawan – Medan (North Sumatera), Tanjung Priok -Jakarta, Tanjung Perak – Surabaya (East Java), Benoa - Bali,Soekarno-Hatta, Makassar.

Therefore, the cruise passengers can easily embark and disembark at those ports, he said.

These all efforts are made to enable foreign tourists and sailors to get easy to visit and feel more comfortable during their trips to wonderful Indonesia.

Related news: 73 foreign yachts visited Aceh's Sabang in Jan-Jun 2019: authorities
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Editor: Sri Haryati
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