"Sail Wakatobi-Belitong (SWB) 2011" is expected to promote investment and tourism in Wakatobi and Belitong in particular, according to Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad.
"The international maritime event will contribute positively to national economic development, and the economy in the two regions particularly," Minister Fadel Muhammad said in Jakarta, Thursday (Jan 20, 2011).
Wakatobi is located in Southeast Sulawesi Province, on Sulawesi Island, while Belitong or Belitung is an island located in Bangka Belitung Province, on southern Sumatra Island.
Having underwater panoramic beauty and breath-taking diving sites, Wakatobi is a biodiversity hot spot especially known for various species of coral reefs.
At least 1.3 million hectares of Wakatobi are part of Wakatobi National Marine Park with Karang Mari Mabo, One Mombaa, Hioga Isle, and Patuno beach diving sites.
Mari Mabo in the local dialect means getting drunk. The diving site is called Mari Mabo because the area has stunning under water panoramic beauty that makes divers stay longer under the water and forget to resurface.
Wakatobi is also situated geographically at the world`s coral reef triangle center and has around 942 fish species and 750 coral reef species.
"While diving in Wakatobi, you`ll not only see beautiful vistas or pristine coral reefs, but also abundant colorful reef fish and rare and unusual cryptic "critters". New undocumented species are being discovered in Wakatobi," Wakatobi district head Hugua said sometime ago.
As stunning as Wakatobi, Belitong Island is blessed with beaches having blue sea waters, coral reefs, fine white sand, and giant granite rock formations.
Belitong exotic beaches include Tanjung Kiras beach, Tanjung Pendam beach, Tanjung tinggi, Tanjung Kelayang, Tanjung Binga fisherman village, Panyaeran beach, Tanjung Kubu, Gembira bay and Tanjung Ru, which are ideal sites for diving, scuba, snorkeling, fishing and sailing.
The island also has other tourist attractions such as Golf Babute driving course, Lengkuas island, Gurok Beraye waterfall, Batu Baginde hill, Tirta Marundang natural pool and Dayang Seri Pinai Pool.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to attend the peak event of the six-week "Sail Wakatobi-Belitong (SWB) 2011", which will be organized from the second week of July to the fourth week of August this year.
The SWB 2011`s yacht rally will start from Darwin Australia, on July 23. The rally`s participants will pass 21 districts/cities in Indonesia and will finish in Singapore, according to Syahrin Abdurrahman, the marine affairs and fishery ministry`s director general of marine and fishery resources surveillance.
The SWB 2011`s theme will be "Clean the Ocean for Future Live", to respond to the climate change which has triggered the temperature of the ocean surface to rise.
The SWB 2011 will be highlighted with six main activities, namely a yacht rally, a Bhakti Surya Bhaskara Jaya civic mission, national and international seminars on marine and fishery resources management, a youth marine event, and marine and fishery product exhibition.
The Bhakti Surya Baskara Jaya civic mission would be held in Riau Island Province, Bangka Belitung Province, West Kalimantan Province, Gorontalo Province, Southeast Sulawesi Province, and South Sulawesi Province, Abdurrahman said.
The SWB 2011 is expected to become the biggest international marine event ever held in Indonesia, after the holding of "Sail Bunaken 2009" in North Sulawesi and "Sail Banda 2010" in Maluku Province.
Sail Bunaken 2009 was held from August 12 to 20, 2009 in North Sulawesi and participated in by 28 warships, a number of fighter planes, and 165 yachts from at least 30 countries which joined an International Fleet Review.
The event`s participants came from the United States, Australia, Britain, the Philippines, Brunei, India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, China, Thailand, Singapore, Timor Leste, Brazil, Russia, Prance, South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Chili, Bangladesh, Canada, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Italy, Peru, Syria, and Papua New Guinea.
A year later, Sail Banda was organized in Maluku from July 24 to August 17, 2010. At Darwin`s Cullen Bay, Australia, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono flagged off 49 of 106 foreign yachts to mark the start of the Sail Banda international yacht rallies.
If Sail Bunaken 2009 was highlighted with two world record breaking events of diving involving 2,465 divers, to mark an underwater celebration of the 64th Indonesian Independence Day, the Sail Wakatobi-Belitong will try to break a world record of underwater chess game.
"After successfully breaking two world records of diving during Sail Bunaken 2009, the SWB 2011 will be highlighted with an underwater chess game trying to break another world record," the director general said. (*)