Wamena, Papua (ANTARA News) - The Baliem Valley Festival 2011 was officially kicked off by the tourism and culture ministry`s expert staff, Hari Kuntoro Drajat, in Jayawijaya District, Papua Province, Monday.

The Baliem Valley Festival was one of the significant cultural events in the history of the Indonesian people and Papua in particular, Kuntoro said on behalf of Tourism and Culture Minister Jero Wacik at the opening ceremony attended by thousands of visitors.

Wasiwilo District, Jayawijaya, is a special valley therefore it has been promoted as a tourist destination, he said.

The cultural values of Papua`s people must be preserved and promoted nationally, because Papua is the center for the national development of food, fishery and mining energy.

These are all thanks to the abundant natural and cultural resources in Papua, according to him.

The minister appreciated the efforts of Jayawijaya District head Wempi Wetipo in organizing the annual festival.

"This is very good and in synergy with our programs in the cultural and tourism ministry," he said.

Jayawijaya District Head Wempi Wetipo in his report during the opening ceremony said the Baliem Valley Festival is being held from August 8 to 11, 2011, under a theme of "Peace For All".

The festival is not only an national event, but also an international event to promote the sense of unity and boost the economy of the Jayawijaya people.

Wempi regretted that Minister Jero Wacik could not come to the opening ceremony, and hoped that the minister will personally kick off the festival in 2012.

The number of visitors to the 22th Baliem Valley festival this year is expected to increase as indicated by the air tickets reservations on the date prior to the festival.

Around 40 percent of tourists to be attending the festival would be foreigners particularly those from European nations. (*)

Editor: Kunto Wibisono
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