"The folk festival that we have prepared for the Sail Wakatobi launch tomorrow evening, will include the traditional `kande-kandea` and `Kabuenga`," Tawakal, the head of the Wakatobi Tourism, Art and Cultural Office, said in Wakatobi, Southeast Sulawesi, on Friday (July 15).
"Kande-kadea" is the Wakatobi people`s tradition to welcome and offer honored guests with various traditional Wakatobi food.
Several ministers such as Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Leksono, Tourism and Culture Minister Jero Wacik, Southeast Sulawesi Governor Nur Alam, and Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad will be present at the reception.
Beautiful girls and women from eight sub districts and 100 villages in Wakatobi District will offer various local food dishes to the honored guests who can choose the food according to their taste.
"In short, the kande-kandea to be organized to mark the launch of Sail Wakatobi this time will be the merriest ever held by the Wakatobi people in the history of "kande-kandea"," Tawakal said.
The folk festival will also include "Bangka Mbule-mbule" to be participated in by around 10,000 traditional fishing boats, and "Kabuenga" traditional ritual which is organized to help young people find their future husbands or wives.
A tour by 1,000 bikers from Indonesia and abroad is also organized to mark the launch of Sail Wakatobi Belitong.
The 1,000 bikers including Minister Fadel Mohammad, Minister Jero Wacik, Governor Nur Alam and Wakatobi District Head Hugua, will be led by Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono," Tawakal said.
Minister Fadel Muhammad had earlier said at least 40 countries will take part in Sail Wakatobi-Belitong 2011 in the second week of July.
"So far, 40 states have confirmed their participation but we hope the number will eventually rise to 70," Fadel said recently when seeing off task force members of the Surya Bhaskara Operation, a civic mission organized as part of the Sail Wakatobi-Belitong activities.
The marine affairs and fishery ministry`s director general of marine and fishery sources supervision concurrently the Sail Wakatobi-Belitong organizing committee secretary, Syahrin Abdurrahman, said the Sail 2011 event has six main activities.
The activities are a yacht rally, a civic mission of Bhakti Surya Bhaskara Jaya, national and international seminars on marine and fishery sources management, archipelagic youth marine cross, marine and fishery product exhibitions.
The Sail Wakatobi-Belitong 2011 will be organized for six weeks, since the second week of July until the fourth week of August in Wakatobi and Belitong District, Bangka Belitung Province, Sumatra.
A number of big ships will participate in the Sail, and one of them will bring along a group of doctors who will give free medical services to Wakatobi residents.
Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono had earlier said that the budget allocated for Sail Wakatobi Belitong was estimated to reach Rp60 billion.
The funds would also be used to improve some infrastructures in Wakatobi and Belitong.
Minister Agung said Sail Wakatobi Belitong was important to promote marine tourism, conduct a civic mission, develop the youth in the framework of the national character building, and to speed up the development in the regions.
Fadel, who has stayed on Wangi-wangi Island, Wakatobi District, since few days ago, has called for acceleration of infrastructure development in the district to support the implementation of Sail Wakatobi Belitong 2011.
"I want the development be accelerated," Minister Fadel said in Wangi-wangi on Friday.
The construction works of main roads, power installation and a plane runway must be completed soon, he stated. "It`s very important. We want the development in Wakatobi to progress," he said.
Having underwater panoramic beauty and breath-taking diving sites, Wakatobi is a biodiversity hotspot especially known for various species of coral reefs.
The district is situated geographically at the world`s coral reef triangle center and has around 942 fish species and 750 coral reef species.
Thanks to its rich marine sources, it has become a location of researches conducted by European and American universities over the past tens of years.
To optimally develop the marine sources, the marine affairs and fisheries ministry plans to set up a world-class School for Marine Conservation (SMC) in Wakatobi.
"We want to build an international standard school in Wakatobi," Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Fadel Muhammad said in Wangi-wanig on Saturday.
The planned school is expected to become a benchmark of similar marine schools in Indonesia, and will have three departments, namely Conservation Management, Biodiversity, and Ocean Engineering.
SMC would be able to accommodate 400 students, around 2,000 training course participants, and have 50 lecturers, the minister said.
Since 1996, Wakatobi has had a conservation area or a national park covering a total area of 1.39 million hectares. The national park has 25 clusters of coral reef, 600-km long coastal line, 112 species of coral reef from 13 families, and 93 species of fish.
Indonesia is one of the world`s largest maritime countries with about 5.8 million square kilometers of marine territory. It is the biggest archipelagic country in the world, with around 70% its territory is waters and it has 17,480 islands.
The government plans to increase the nation`s marine conservation area to 20 million hectares by 2020, from the present 13.5 million hectares. (*)