"We are optimistic of receiving domestic and foreign tourists no later than the start of July 2020 in the wake of the provisions of the COVID-19 health protocols," Nadar, head of the Tourism Office of Wakatobi District, stated here on Monday.
The district, known for its marine tourism, recorded no tourist arrivals since March 2020 following the government's announcement of the country's first confirmed COVID-19 cases and cancellations of all domestic and international flights from and to Wakatobi.
Several travel operators from Jakarta and Bali had contacted the tourism office to inquire when Wakatobi will reopen its region for tourists.
"Currently, the government, through the district and provincial COVID-19 Task Force Teams, had proposed to immediately reopen the district to tourists, albeit through the application of strict health protocols," Nadar remarked.
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Currently, only Wings Air is operating flights twice a week from the Haluoleo Airport in Kendari, the capital of Southeast Sulawesi, to Matahora Aiport in Wakatobi, and from Tomia Airport to Denpasar, Bali Island.
"Hence, apart from using air routes, tourists headed for Wakatobi can also opt for means of sea transportation opened via Baubau by ferry and Jet Liner fast ships," he stated.
Several hotels and a resort in Wangi-wangi were also reopened, he remarked.
During the January-February 2020 period, Wakatobi had recorded arrivals of some 28 thousand domestic tourists and six thousand foreign tourists.
Since 1996, Wakatobi has had a conservation area or a national marine park spanning an area of 1.39 million hectares. The park has 25 clusters of coral reef, 600-km-long coastal line, 112 species of coral reef from 13 families, and 93 species of fish.
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