In the easternmost Indonesian province with 30 districts and at least 250 different tribes and languages, Papua cannot be compared with any other province for its rich cultural diversity.
The exquisite tribal arts, known all over the world, are made by among others the tribes of Asmat, Kamoro, Dani, and Sentani.
Although the impact of modernization brings daily change to Papua, much of the inherited social structure, arts and culture have remained unchanged.
Today each of the districts in Papua has its own cultural festival and regional shows where various groups of people are invited to perform and visitors have the opportunity to glimpse the many visual and performing arts of Papua tribal community.
One of the most popular events held annually every June 19-23 is Lake Sentani Festival which attracts tourists from all over the world.
The festival organizing committee chairperson Anna Sawae said in Jayapura early this week that such an annual cultural event was intended to support the government program in tourism sector, and to preserve local cultural values in a bid to enrich the national cultural treasures.
She said the objective of Lake Sentani Festival was to improve and preserve the cultural values of Papuan ethnic communities, to introduce the local cultural potentials to international community, to encourage the development of tourism objects in Papua, and to promote investment opportunity in tourism sector.
"More than that, the specific objective of the festival is to make Jayapura a reliable national and international tourist destination," Anna said, adding that the cultural values would be packaged in such away as to be sold to both domestic and foreign tourists.
Anna said the participants who would enliven the cultural feast this year were the traditional community from 24 villages in Jayapura district.
They will perform various traditional dances to entertain the visitors of the festival at Kalkote Beach, about 3 kilometer away from the center of Sentani town.
She said the festival`s supporting infrastructure has been completed one hundred percent for the cultural festivity from June 19-23, 2011.
According to Anna, the local government, supported by the local community, had one hundred percent completed the supporting infrastructure at the festival arena in Jayapura district town of Sentani.
"All preparation such as exhibition pavilion, parking area, and transportation facility have been made ready for the Lake Sentani Festival this year," Anna Sawae said.
She said the completion of all supporting infrastructure of the cultural festival was inseparable from a good cooperation between Jayapura district government and the local people with different cultures but living in perfect harmony.
"A lot of attractions will be performed during the festival, especially the cultural uniqueness that belongs only to the Sentani people in Jayapura district," Anna said.
From the past experiences in organizing Lake Sentani Festival for the third time since 2008, Anna Sawae expressed optimism that the fourth similar event this year will attract more domestic and foreign tourists.
As the festival gets nearer, foreign tourists continue to arrive in Papua provincial city of Jayapura for the cultural event that will take place at Kalkhote resort in Sentani.
Report from Jayapura said 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 several 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.
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, and the number this year was expected to exceed that in 2010.
Meanwhile, Fredrik Sokoy, an anthropologist from Cendrawasih University (Uncen) at a seminar on the advantage of Lake Sentani Festival for the people of Papua in Sentani said on Thursday that the festival should be designed in such a way to have a good result.
"LSF should have a positive impact on the survival of indigenous Sentani tribal community in specific and other tribes in Papua in general," Fredrik said.
Fredrik said the festival should be designed properly for its short term and long term program in order to obtain good results.
The design for the short term program, according to him, should be included in the non-core cultural domain to re-inventorize Sentani tribal community`s cultural potential from the upstream to downstream and natural resources, and the natural resources at Lake Sentani area.
In addition, he said Jayapura district government should provide Jayapura Cultural Museum with all all related information about local tourism for the visitors.
While the design for long term program as the main cultural domain, Fredrik said it should cover work ethic, attitude of competition, self-esteem, structured educational achievement, moral ethics, and cultural education of indigenous Sentani tribe.
"In the short term and long term program of Lake Sentani Festival, the indigenous tourism of Sentani traditional dances, typical clothing, typical foods, typical handicrafts, and location of typical residential should be taken into account," Fredrik said. (*)