Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The upcoming two-day seminar on international marine tourism in Bangka-Belitung (Babel) provincial city of Pangkalpinang is expected to promote the abundant tourism potentials in the province.

Bangka and Belitung islands province is blessed with pristine, pollution-free white sandy beaches with blue sea waters, fine coral reefs, and giant granite rock formations

In an effort to more intensively promote such potentials, both national and international tourism players will hold the seminar at Novotel Hotel in Pangkalpinang from September 21-22, 2011 as part of Sail Wakatobi-Belitung 2011 event.

"The seminar will be held as part of Sail Wakatobi-Belitung 2011 in a bid to promote Babel tourism potentials to the participants of the international marine event," Babel Culture and Tourism Office spokesman Yan Megawandi said in Pangkalpinang over the weekend.

He said at least 14 domestic and foreign speakers from among others Malaysia, Fiji, Australia, and Canada would speak on marine-based development in the two-day seminar.

The domestic speakers, according to him, would come from Bandung Institute of Technology, Gajah Mada University, University of Indonesia.

Besides, he said Kapayang island resort manager, Budi, would also be invited to share his experience on the way how he managed Kepayang island into an interesting coral and turtle conservation area in Babel.

According to Yan Megawandi, the speaker from the University of Indonesia in the seminar would explain underwater archeology as part of marine tourism.

"More than a hundred tourism players and students around the world will attend the seminar and share their experiences about the methods of developing their respective tourism areas," Yan said.

He added that from that seminar, the tourist players on Babel Province would study a lot from the other participants and then develop the tourism potentials more properly in the province.

The province is made up of two major islands, Bangka and Belitung, and hundreds of other smaller islands with exotic beaches for swimming, diving, and snorkeling.

Belitong alone has exotic beaches such as 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 for the participants of Sail Wakatobi-Belitung 2011.

Yan said the series of Sail Wakatobi Belitong 2011 would be divided into two, namely Belitung island would host the outdoor activity, and Bangka Island would host indoor activity.

The outdoor activities in Belitung island will among others include cruise ships and yachts rally, underwater world chess record breaking, international beach volley ball tournament, Singapore-Belitung Cruise, seaweed planting activity, turtles conservation activity, and fishing competition.

While the indoor activities in Banka island will include Babel potential exhibition, sailing and diving training for the teens, pepper plantation agro-tourism, and marine eco-tourism international seminar.

Yan said the economy of the people in Bangka and Belitung at present is still depending on tin mining, and therefore they have less awareness of developing the local marine tourism potentials.

Tin ores which are continuously mined will sooner or later run out but marine tourism potential, if developed properly, will support the local people`s economy.

Therefore Bangka District Culture and Tourism Office (Disbudpar) spokesman Asep Setiawan has asked the relevant local authorities to ban the presence of tin dredging ships and the practice of unconventional tin mining in the island`s tourism areas.

"Tin ore mining activity including the operation of tin dredging ships in a number of important tourism areas in Bangka will eventually destroy the island`s tourism," Asep Setiawan said in Bangka district town of Sungailiat recently.

Asep said the scale of destruction from unconventional tin mining has reached a level where Bangka island`s original natural beauty - one of its main tourist attractions - will soon be a thing of the past, if nothing is done to stop or control the environmentally damaging tin mining activity.

"Unconventional mining methods and the operations of tin dredging ships in Bangka Island`s tourism sites should soon be restricted, Asep said.

He said tourism and marine fisheries would be the district`s mainstay after the tin ores were exhausted, and therefore all parties should maintain it for the survival of the local community.

With the destruction of nature and marine ecosystems perpetrated by unconventional tin miners, Asep said investors in tourism field were feared to leave Bangka for another regions.

Besides Belitung, Bangka island is also blessed with marine tourism and historical attractions in abundance.

Having lush tropical forests and surrounded by crystal clear sea with white sandy beaches, Bangka island can be another tourism destination in Indonesia.

After visitors have set foot on the pristine, beautiful beaches such as Parai, Pasir Padi, Sampur, and Matras beaches, returning to their hotels and accommodations will be a hard thing to do.

It is because of these abundant marine tourism and historical attractions that the Pangkalpinang city government is currently making every effort to develop them for both domestic and foreign tourists.

"Besides marine tourism, historical attractions also have a great potential to attract and increase the number of domestic and foreign tourists to visit the island," Pangkalpinang culture and tourism office spokesman Ahmad Elvian has said in Pangkalpinang.

The historical attractions on Bangka island, according to Ahmad, are among others Museum Timah (Tin Museum), Rumah Residen (Resident`s House), Dutch Cemetery, Perigi Pekasem (Pekasem Well), and Tugu Pergerakan Kemerdekaan (monument of independence movement).

Reporter: by Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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