In 1977, the Komodo National Park was named a biosphere reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and in 1991, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2012, it was listed as the New 7 Wonders of Nature sites.
Komodo Island is located near Labuan Bajo, which is one of the 10 priority tourist destinations designated by the government as "New Bali." The nine other destinations are Borobudur in Central Java; Mandalika on Lombok Island, West Nusa Tenggara; Bromo-Tengger-Semeru in East Java; Pulau Seribu in North Jakarta; Lake Toba in North Sumatra; Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi; Tanjung Lesung in Banten; Morotai in the northern region of Halmahera in the Maluku Islands; and Tanjung Kelayang in Belitung, Bangka Belitung.
Both Komodo Island and Labuan Bajo are located in West Manggarai District on Flores Island, and they are the backbone of the tourism industry of NTT, in particular, and Indonesia, in general. The Komodo National Park recorded revenue amounting to Rp32 billion from tourist visits to the park during 2018, an increase from Rp29 billion in the previous year. A total of 176,830 tourists, comprising 121,409 foreigners and 55,421 Indonesians, had visited the Komodo National Park last year, a surge from 119,599 visitors in 2017.
The Indonesian Tourism Ministry has set a target to attract some 20 million foreign tourists in 2019. During the January-April 2019 period, Indonesia had received 5.12 million foreign tourists, a 3.22 percent rise as compared to 4.96 percent during the corresponding time frame in the previous year.
Labuan Bajo area, in general, is being prioritized by the government as a new tourist destination that should be developed further. The Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) Ministry has readied a budget of Rp50 billion to construct the Lintas Utara road section to support the development of the National Tourism Strategic Area in Labuan Bajo.
"We have planned to develop 10 new destinations for the last two years. We will prioritize four of them, including Labuan Bajo," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said while visiting Puncak Waringin in Labuan Bajo, July 10, 2019.
Labuan Bajo needs to be totally revamped by prioritizing attractive local art and cultural events to woo domestic and foreign tourists. The government will accelerate the development of infrastructure including an airport in Labuan Bajo to boost local tourism. Puncak Waringin covers a hilly area of one hectare and will be equipped with a souvenir center, an amphitheater, an open green area, and an observation deck.
"Next year, at the latest, everything has to be completed, including terminal, airport, and runway," Chandra A Kurniawan, a presidential spokesman, quoted the president as saying, in a statement.
The president wanted the airports in the regions where tourist destinations existed to be managed by those having an international tourism network, he added.
In the meantime, East Nusa Tenggara's tourism and creative economic office has identified 1,181 tourist attractions located in 22 districts and municipalities in the province. The new tourist attractions will be developed by involving the local villages to boost the province's rural economy.
The NTT tourism office will promote at least five newly developed tourism attractions These include Liman Beach on Semau Isle in Kupang District, Mulut Seribu waters in Rote Ndao District, and Fatumnasi natural and cultural tourism attractions in South Timur Tengah. Raknamo Dam in Kupang and Rotiklot Dam in Belu are among the new tourism attractions.
Other attractions to be further promoted are the Praimadita traditional kampong in East Sumba District, Moru Beach in Alor District, and Kelimutu National Park in Ende District, Flores Island.
"New natural and cultural tourism attractions have been identified," Wayan Darmawa, head of the NTT tourism and creative economic office, stated in Kupang recently.
The natural ecosystem and culture are the strengths of these attractions. The NTT government will focus on promoting environmental and cultural preservation to support sustainable tourism. Traditional houses and kampongs will be preserved.
Earlier, the NTT chapter of the Indonesian Travel Agent Association (Asita) voiced its support to the provincial administration's plan to develop the new tourist destinations in a bid to drive its tourism industry in 2019.
"The policy related to the development of the seven destinations is correct. We, as business players, support it, as the government is undoubtedly responsible for the management of tourist destinations," Abed Frans, the Asita NTT chairman, remarked in June 2019.
He is optimistic that the new destinations would be able to attract domestic and foreign tourists. (INE)
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