"Infrastructure development at the Merak-Baluran tourist destination is a national priority. The important aspect is that the regional governments protect them well, as they are the main players (in that development)," Monoarfa remarked during a working visit to Situbondo here on Sunday.
The Situbondo regency government has proposed opening access to several beach tourism attractions in the national park area, including the Merak Baluran Beach, Sijile Beach, Lempuyang Beach, Batu Hitam, and other beach tourism locations that are still in one area.
Infrastructure development in the area is expected to boost tourist visits, so that the economy in Situbondo can continue to grow.
Meanwhile, Situbondo Regent Karna Suswandi is optimistic that the area would become a major tourist destination in Situbondo and could bolster economic growth.
"The beauty of its sea is better than marine tourism in Bali. Tourists in Bali are also expected to visit Merak-Baluran. Moreover, the location is close to the Ketapang Port of Banyuwangi," he noted.
Suswandi remarked that some 17 kilometers of roads in the Merak-Baluran area had yet to be paved. The regent further stated that eight tourist destinations and around a thousand residents live in Merak Hamlet of Sumberwaru Village in Banyuputih District.
"We have entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (LHK) on the construction of roads and provision of electricity to Merak Hamlet. One of the goals is to offer a sense of comfort and safety to the people in Merak and to tourists," he stated.
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