Jakarta (ANTARA) - According to Australian Grand Prix motorcycle racing legend Mick Doohan, the beautiful scenery around the Mandalika International Street Circuit will blur the line between racing and holidaying.

His statement has come as high praise for the circuit located in the Mandalika Super Priority Tourism Destination, Central Lombok district, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) province, which offers panoramic views of green hills and the blue sea.

This has led to Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) expressing the hope that racing events hosted at the circuit will be able to improve the economy and revive the tourism sector of NTB province.

"The events will give advantages to the economic growth of the community since the international races will be held annually," he remarked while inaugurating the 4.3-kilometer (km) circuit on November 12, 2021.

He also simultaneously inaugurated the 17.3-km-long and 50-m wide Lombok International Airport (BIL)-Mandalika bypass road, which will shorten the trip between the two locations to 15 minutes.

This month, the circuit will hold two international races—the World Superbike (WSBK) and the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup (IATC) on November 19–21, 2021.

The Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment has assessed that the events will be the most effective means for promoting Mandalika as a world-class tourist destination.

International events would open many job opportunities and benefit the surrounding community, deputy of tourism and creative economy at the ministry, Odo R.M. Manuhutu, said in a virtual discussion on Tuesday.

Nugdha Achadie, director of finance, strategy, and risk management at the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), state-owned tourism area developer in Nusa Dua and Mandalika, said he expects the WSBK to absorb 7,945 workers and generate economic value of Rp500 billion.

Meanwhile, Bank Indonesia (BI) has predicted that the implementation of WSBK will increase the province’s economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2021 by 5.01–5.81 percent year-on-year (yoy).

“The implementation of WSBK will have a multiplier effect on the tourism and transportation sectors, as well as micro, small, and medium enterprises actors,” head of the BI Representative Office in NTB province, Heru Saptaji, said.

In fact, sales of souvenirs in the tourism area have begun to increase ahead of the implementation of WSBK.

There has been a 15-percent increase in sales compared to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, head of the Central Lombok District Industry and Trade Office, H Saman, informed.

Hence, the government has made a number of preparations to make Mandalika a world-class sport-tourism destination.

Welcoming tourists

The government believes that the tourism sector is the main economic sector that will be able to rebound quickly in the midst of the pandemic.

Hence, the Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) Ministry has renovated residents' homes in the Mandalika area to make them suitable as tourist homestays.

This would allow the local community to also take advantage of the racing event at Mandalika Circuit.

As many as 300 homes in Central Lombok district and 98 homes in North Lombok district have been renovated into tourist accommodations, director of special housing at the ministry, Yusniewati, informed.

Meanwhile, another 517 units located along the entry route to the Mandalika area have been refurbished to improve the quality of the homes in the area, the director said.

"Thus, the construction of the homestays has brought a positive impact on the community as the people's houses, which previously were less suitable for habitation, have become comfortable," the director added.

The total budget allocated for the program was Rp62 billion, with Rp18 billion provided for workers' wages and Rp44 billion diverted for the procurement of construction materials, the head section of the NTB Regional II Housing Provision Center of the ministry, Dudi Mustofa, informed.

The 12-square-meter houses were provided with international standard rooms and decorated using Sasak Tribe motifs to add a touch of local culture as the buildings were constructed with the concept of ‘bale lumbung’ and ‘bale bonter’, he said.

The tribe uses ‘bale lumbung’ to store their harvest and ‘bale bonter’ to conduct customary trials and keep the tribe’s heirlooms, he added.

In addition to building homestays, the government is also helping promote native products so that local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) benefit from the implementation of WSBK.

The NTB Provincial Tourism Office has been promoting locally made woven cloth by encouraging tourism actors, especially hotels administrators, to wear uniforms made of woven fabric or with local weaving patterns.

The head of the office, Hadi Yusron, also suggested that equipment used at international motorcycle racing events – for instance, racers’ umbrellas, pit stop decorations, and spectator tribune banners -- feature weaves from both Lombok and Sumbawa Islands.

In fact, the sixteenth turn of the circuit has been painted with one of Sasak Tribe’s weaving patterns — which has also become the trademark of the venue, he said.

Meanwhile, the Central Lombok District Cooperatives and MSMEs Office has prepared 50 large booths for local business actors to participate in the international racing event.

Twenty of them will be set up in the west parking area of the circuit, another 20 booths will be located in the east parking area, and the rest of them will be placed in the circuit area.

In addition, the office will also assign a number of language assistants to help merchants serve customers since most WSBK spectators are foreigners.

Furthermore, the office head informed that around 300 MSMEs products out of 600 submitted items have passed merchandise curation for the international race.

The selected items comprise processed foods, woven cloth, and wicker craft made from Lygodium circinnatum—a species of fern that is usually found in tropical forests and called ketak by locals.

It is expected that all of the attempts can optimize the multiplier effect of IATC and WSBK on the people of NTB province.

Preparing supporting aspects

The economy is not the only sector that the government is focusing on for ensuring the successful implementation of IATC and WSBK.

It has also made several preparations for the security of the events.

Three thousand security personnel from the police, military, and related institutions, including five bomb disposal teams and five drone operator teams from the Mobile Brigade Corps, have been deployed to secure the events, NTB Regional Police head, Inspector General Mohammad Iqbal, informed.

A number of operational fleets will also be deployed, such as boats, helicopters, tactical vehicles, and command centre cars, he said.

The personnel will set multiple checkpoints for inspection: at the Lombok International Airport (BIL) Roundabout, the circuit parking area, and the circuit entrance gate, he added.

The inspections are aimed at making sure visitors do not bring any dangerous items to the venue, he explained.

Security officers will check visitors’ identity, luggage, and vehicles thoroughly at the checkpoints, including their health documents, such as complete vaccination certificates and COVID-19 antigen test results to curb the transmission of the virus, he said.

For mitigating the threat of the pandemic, the government has also prioritized the vaccination of local residents.

As of November 18, 2021, the first dose vaccination coverage in Central Lombok district, NTB Province has reached 72.44 percent, while the coverage of the second dose vaccination has touched 41.82 percent, according to the Health Ministry’s website.

The district has also been placed under Level 1 community activity restrictions (PPKM) as it has experienced a significant decline in COVID-19 cases.

Still, the Praya Regional Hospital has prepared an isolation center to anticipate any spike in cases due to the international racing events, the public relations officer of the hospital said.

Thus, it is clear that with thorough preparations, Mandalika is ready to become an international sport-tourism destination.

It is hoped that everyone participating in the events will keep following strict health protocols to prevent the IATC and WSBK from emerging as new COVID-19 clusters and to allow all people to enjoy the multiplier effect from the events.

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Editor: Sri Haryati
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