It was reported from Jayapura on Thursday, many of the foreign visitors to the festival were over the past few days seen strolling in the city`s streets.
The number of foreign tourists arrivals in Jayapura for the festival is expected to continue to increase until the event kicks off on Sunday, June 19, 2011.
Among the foreign visitors to the festival were a couple, Gatsonides and his wife, who arrived in Jayapura from the Netherlands three days ago.
"We heard about Lake Sentani cultural festival and immediately got interested in attending it to know what it would be really like," Gatsonides said in Jayapura on Thursday.
The Dutch tourist who arrived in Jayapura for the first time in his life admitted he was really interested in Papua traditional culture, especially of Jayapura district and its natural beauty.
Lake Sentani Festival has been held every June 19-23 since 2008 in the Kalkhote tourist resort on the Sentani lakeside in Jayapura district, Papua.
Last year, around 517 foreign tourists from various countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, and the United States visited the festival.
Lake Sentani Festival committee chairman Ana Sawai said the number of foreign tourists to visit the festival this year was expected to exceed that in 2010.
"Because of Lake Sentani Tour Package, many foreign tourists are expected to visit Papua this year to enjoy the natural beauty of the lake in Sentani, Jayapura district," Ana Sawai said.
She said every day many foreign tourists visit Lake Sentani and it surrounding villages.
The foreign tourists, according to her, actually wanted to visit Wamena but because of vigorous promotion about Lake Sentani Tour Package, they came first to Sentani to visit tourist villages such as Tablanusu, Bukisi, and Pantai Amay before proceeding to Wamena.
Themed "Love, Peace, and Harmony," the festival to feature various art and cultural activities and attractions will attract as many domestic and foreign tourists as possible.
Meanwhile, Jayapura district head Habel Melkias Suwae said this year`s event of Lake Sentani Festival was the fourth since its first one held in 2008 as a year-long gateway for the tourism industry in the Indonesian easternmost province of Papua.
In 2008, the Papua Tourism Office organized the first Lake Sentani Festival from July 16 to 19 that year to support the annual Lembah Baliem Festival in Jayawijaya district.
Since then, the Lake Sentani Festival was held as an effort to protect the culture of Jayapura district, especially at the areas around Lake Sentani.
Located some 75 meters above sea level and surrounded by beautiful hills, the 3.63-hectare Lake Sentani is a perfect place for fishing, swimming, canoeing, skiing, and other kinds of water sports.
Habel said the tourism tourism would strengthen the identity of the people of Papua, preserve their traditional and cultural values, step up their economy.
Therefore, Habel added that the Jayapura district administration would make every effort to develop the attractive villages around Lake Sentani to constantly attract as many tourists as possible.
Last year, Vatican Ambassador to Indonesia, Monsignor Leopoldo Gireeli and his entourage also visited the arena of Lake Sentani Festival 2010 at Kalkothe, Asei, East Sentani, in Jayapura district.
On the occasion, the Vatican envoy also took his time to watch directly the rehearsal implementation of the festival and highly appreciated the culture and traditions of the indigenous people of Papua as an integral part of human life itself.
Jayapura episcopal spokesman Bishop Leo Laba Ladjar said at the time that the Vatican Nuncios Apostolic Mgr Leopoldo Girelli visited the land of Papua as part his pastoral mission, and took his time to visit the Lake Sentani Festival arena to obtain first hand information about preparations for such an annual cultural event.
He said the Vatican envoy was profoundly interested in the Lake Sentani Festival 2010, themed "Loving Culture for Our Future," because for him, whoever loves and preserves traditional and cultural values, the same has prepared an expected future for the next generation.
Lake Sentani Festival, held each year in the Kalkhote tourist resort, is a cultural event from several villages around Lake Sentani and several districts in Papua as an effort to support government programs to increase the number of tourists visiting Indonesia.
The festival is intended to preserve cultural values as a unique asset, and put it together with tour package, so that i can be enjoyed by domestic and foreign tourists.
Anna Sawai said various traditional dances of Papua have been prepared to jazz up the festival this year.
She said thousands of male and female dancers of Papua, clad in bark and leaves, would entertain the participants and visitors of the 4th Lake Sentani cultural festival this year.
According to her, various preparations and trainings of cultural attractions from Jayapura in particular and Papua in general to make the event a great success have been made since the beginning of this year.
At the opening ceremony of the festival at Kalkote resort on the side of Lane Sentani, Anna said the participants and visitors would be awed by the beauty of Lake Sentani and entertained by the traditional dances found nowhere else in the world. (*)