It will provide an added value in accelerating economic recovery for the welfare of the people of Biak Numfor district.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Although the Japanese Cave in Sumberker village, Samofa sub-district, Biak Numfor district, Papua province, has quite an interesting history, it is less popular than other historical tourism sites in Indonesia.

However, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry believes that the cave will become a prominent tourist attraction if it is managed professionally according to global tourism standards.

Director of tourism destination development of regional II at the ministry, Wawan Gunawan, said that the site has tremendous potential and is capable of rivaling Vietnam's War Remnants Museum.

The 45 meter (m) deep and 180 m long cave is among the popular destinations in the district, he informed. According to the website of the Law and Human Rights Ministry’s Papua Regional Office, visitors only need to shell out Rp25 thousand to enter the site.

There are hundreds of remnants of World War II, including light and heavy weapons, bullets, helmets, planes, tanks, bombs, foodware, swords, and medical equipment, in the front yard of the site, Gunawan said.

Visitors can use the stairs to walk to the cave and there are a number of huts where they can rest, he added.

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Initially, the site housed a natural cave that was often used by local people as a resting place, he informed. It had many beautiful stalactites and a spring, whose water was used by the community for their daily needs, he said.

The locals call the cave ‘Abyab Binsari’ which means ‘Grandma's cave’, he added. According to one folktale, there was an old woman who lived around the cave. However, once the Japanese soldiers arrived, she disappeared without a trace, he said.

The army landed for the first time in Biak Island in 1943, bringing around 10 thousand soldiers who were then posted to several places in Biak Numfor district, including the cave, North Biak sub-district, West Biak sub-district, East Biak sub-district, and Ambroben Sup Forest, and in Supiori district.

They built fortresses on the coasts, forests, and caves, with the Japanese Cave serving as their logistic center and hideout, Gunawan said. There were three thousand personnel led by Colonel Kuzume Naoyuki stationed at the site, he added.

However, the allied troops commanded by General Douglas McArthur found the hideout. Thus, on June 7, 1944, the troops dropped bombs and fuel drums on the cave, claiming the lives of more than three thousand Japanese soldiers, he said.

The location was designated as one of the World War II historical attractions in 1980, he added.

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Strengthening Tourism Sites

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry has encouraged the strengthening of various tourism sites in Biak Numfor district, Papua province, to turn them into quality and sustainable destinations to attract more visitors and revive the local economy.

Accompanied by the head of the Biak Numfor District Tourism Office, Gunawan reviewed the development of several tourism destinations funded by the 2021 Special Allocation Fund (DAK) on Tourism Sector.

The sites comprised the Japanese Cave in Samofa sub-district, an art stage at Cendrawasih Museum in Biak Kota sub-district, Wardo Rest Area in West Biak sub-district, and Tanjung Saruri Water Blow in Yawosi sub-district.

In addition, Gunawan reviewed the preparations for the development of Yennyabo Sorido Beach in Biak Kota sub-district, which would be carried out using the 2022 DAK.

He visited the tourism attractions on Wednesday while preparing a mass vaccination center for Biak Numfor district, which will also be supported by the ministry.

He emphasized that the ministry is committed to supporting the development of tourism destinations in the district, in line with Presidential Instruction Number 9/2020 concerning the Acceleration of Welfare Development in Papua and West Papua provinces.

It was also in accordance with the 2020-2024 National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) on Tourism Destinations Development (DPP) in Biak-Cendrawasih Bay.

"The preparation of quality, competitive, integrated, and sustainable tourism attractions in Biak Numfor district can be strengthened by making an interesting calendar of events and travel patterns,” Gunawan said.

With attractive narratives, the travel pattern -- in the form of historical and religious tourism -- can draw both domestic and foreign tourists, he added.

He then lauded the strong commitment of the district government in developing strategic local tourism destinations.

This can be seen from the utilization of the DAK in the 2017-2021 fiscal year, which was carried out on target with an adequate budget and great benefits for the destinations, he said.

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In addition, the fund allocation for the 2022-2024 fiscal year shows the government’s support for sustainable tourism, he added.

Furthermore, the establishment of the art stage at Cendrawasih Museum as a creative space for community members to express themselves can support the development of cultural tourism in the district, he noted.

In the future, various arts and cultural communities will be able to perform there and collaborate with each other to carry out sustainable activities, he said.

"It will provide an added value in accelerating economic recovery for the welfare of the people of Biak Numfor district," the ministry director added.

Improving the Japanese Cave

Meanwhile, the head of the Biak Numfor District Tourism Office, Oni Dangeubun, expressed his gratitude to the ministry for its commitment to supporting the development of tourism and creative economy in the district.

"The Biak Numfor district government lauds the commitment of the ministry to continue supporting the development of destinations in our district. We expect that the support will continue in the following years," he remarked.

He said that in December 2019, his office planned to propose the Japanese Cave as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

Hence, officials tried to complete the administrative requirements for the proposal and improve the accessibility and amenity of the destination by collaborating with the local bank and police to renovate the entrance gate and toilets at the destination, he informed.

They also cooperated with the Papua Provincial Tourism Office to provide quality human resources to manage the tourism destination, he added.

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Since the cave is often visited by Japanese tourists, the head of Biak Numfor district, Herry Ario Naap, said he expected to have a direct flight made operational from Japan to the district.

He conveyed the hope while accompanying the former Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia, Ishii Masafumi, to the historical site in February 2020.

Developing the potential of the Japanese Cave will surely advance the tourism sector and creative industry in the district as well as improve the locals’ economy and welfare.

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Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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