Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA) - Bali Acting Governor Sang Made Mahendra Jaya welcomed the 5th Multilateral Naval Exercise (MNE) Komodo in Bali involving participants from 57 countries that can boost tourist visits in the region.

"I am ready to support the event in Bali," Jaya stated while welcoming Commander of the Naval Command and Staff College (Seskoal), Rear Admiral Yoos Suryono Hadi, and his entourage in Denpasar on Tuesday.

Moreover, since February 14, 2024, his side has imposed a levy on foreign tourists of Rp150 thousand (US$9.8) that will be used for preserving Bali's nature and culture.

Jaya elaborated that the activity, which is a form of the Indonesian Navy's diplomacy by bringing foreign naval forces into the Indonesian waters to conduct non-combat training, can also help to boost Bali's tourism.

The 5th MNE Komodo will also be combined with the 6th International Maritime Security Symposium (IMSS) in February 2025.

"Bali's economic growth is very dependent on the tourism sector, especially foreign tourists. When Bali's tourism experienced disturbance, such as during the Bali Bombings 1 and 2, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021, our economy worsened," he pointed out.

Based on data from the Bali Provincial Government, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bali's economic growth contracted to -12.21 percent, while Badung District, as the center of Bali's tourism, contracted to -16.52 percent.

In 2021, Bali's economic growth began to improve to 0.51 percent. However, Badung's economic growth still contracted to -6.74 percent.

"We are grateful for the joint policies, efforts, and hard work of the Central Government, Regional Government, community leaders, and other parties that were able to recover Bali's economy in 2023," Jaya stated.

The number of foreign tourist visits to Bali in 2023 totaled more than 5.2 million people, while the number of domestic tourists reached 9.8 million people.

"Bali's economic growth in 2023 reached 5.71 percent, exceeding the economic growth in 2019 of 5.60 percent," he remarked.

Meanwhile, Rear Admiral Hadi stated that MNE Komodo is a biennial event that was held for the first time in 2014. In 2023, it was held in Makassar, with participants from 35 countries.

"This event is a non-combat joint exercise. Strengthening diplomacy for maritime security is one of the focuses of this activity," he remarked.

Bali was chosen to host the 5th MNE Komodo, as the province is an icon of Indonesian tourism. In addition, the event can promote Bali's tourism after being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Moreover, we know that Bali has complete supporting facilities and infrastructure. The community and maritime elements in Bali are used to collaborating in organizing international events. The request to pick Bali as the host for this event also came from Chief of Naval Staff of the participating countries," Hadi stated.

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Translator: Ni Putu Putri M, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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