Banda Aceh, Aceh (ANTARA) - The Sabang Free Trade Zone and Port Management Body (BPKS) has outlined a target of clocking at least 12 international cruise ship arrivals this year.

To this end, the BPKS authority has maintained steady coordination with the city government to address issues pertaining to permits for cruise ships to dock, BPKS Head Iskandar Zulkarnain remarked.

"The cruise ships will be allowed to dock at Sabang on the basis of the Sabang mayor's letter," Zulkarnain noted in a statement that ANTARA quoted here, Saturday.

The Sabang city administration awaits the Indonesian government's permits for the cruise ships to dock at this Aceh Province's coastal city.

Assistant for the Sabang city government's economic and development affairs, Kamaruddin, remarked that reopening the city for cruise ships relies on the government's permits.

"We just refer to the central government's standard operating procedures. If the permit is issued, we open Sabang (for the cruise ships)," he explained.

Kamaruddin affirmed that endeavors to usher in economy recovery for the people should also be an indispensable part of the efforts to handle the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indonesia.

In the early days of this coronavirus pandemic last year, the Sabang city administration had enforced stringent travel restrictions on non-residents to enter the city.

As a precautionary measure to contain the spread of this lethal virus, the Sabang authority had mandated visitors to present free COVID-19 health certificates and placed a temporary ban on cruise ships.

"Alhamdulillah (Thank God), these prevention efforts help reduce the city's infection rate. Since October 2020, it has no longer had new confirmed cases," he stated.

Taking into account this improving condition, Kamaruddin asserted that Sabang was a safe place for domestic and international travelers.

Since November 2020, the Sabang city government has also allowed unconditional entry to travelers keen on visiting the coastal city by land.

"We have no longer closed Sabang for locals and foreign tourists. However, they must, of course, abide by the government's health protocols," he stated.

In facilitating the recovery of the city's tourism sector, Kamaruddin has appealed to the BPKS authority to lobby related authorities to help reopen Sabang for international cruise ships.

"Health protocols must strictly be put in place. If tourists abide by the COVID-19 preventive measures, they are welcome," he asserted.

Arrival of tourists, including those aboard the cruise ships, would also help boost the city's economic growth, he pointed out.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sabang was one of the popular tourist destinations on Sumatra Island among domestic and foreign visitors as well as international sailors.

Located on Weh Island, Sabang has been frequented by tourists, including those aboard international cruise ships and yachts.

This coastal city is not merely renowned for its sandy beaches and underwater beauty, with abundant snorkeling and diving spots, but is also well-known for its well-protected forest and the "kilometer-zero" monument representing Indonesia's starting point. Related news: Sabang marine tourist resort in Aceh reopens
Related news: Sabang's Zero Kilometer Monument named unique tourism destination


Translator: Khalis S, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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