news focus: Babel poised to host sail Wakatobi Belitong peak event

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Bangka Belitung (Babel) Province has been busy making preparations for the peak event of Sail Wakatobi Belitong (WWB) 2011 which will be officially closed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on October 13, 2011.

A media center has been set up by the ministry of communication and informatics at Tanjung Kelayang, Belitung District, Babel, for national and international media covering the Sail Wakatobi Belitong activities from October 10 to 14, 2011.

"In the Sail Wakatobi Belitong peak event on Wednesday (Oct. 12) and Thursday (Oct 13), there will be many national and foreign media here to disseminate information to the public. It`s expected to help promote tourism in the region domestically and internationally," the Babel communication and information office head, K.A Tajuddin, said in Pangkalpinang, Babel, recently

The Sail Wakatobi Belitong activities in Belitung District started last October 5 and would last until October 12, 2011 consisting of sports competitions, art performances and exhibitions.

"Now, there are exhibitions of handicraft products, traditional food, arts and culture from all provinces in Indonesia," he said.

President Yudhoyono is scheduled to be present at the peak event and officially see off participants of the international yacht rally joined by 120 yachts from 20 countries from the continents of Asia, Australia and Europe.

"At the SWB`s peak event on Thursday (Oct 13), President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his entourage will also watch a decorated fishing boat parade," K.A. Tajuddin said.

At least 500 traditional fishing boats will take part in the parade. Almost 75 percent of Bangka Belitung`s population are traditional fishermen.

The head of state will also watch a record breaking underwater chess game organized to highlight the SWB-2011.

Other activities will include national and international seminars on marine resources and fishery management, a marine youth gathering, and a marine and fishery product exhibition.

Preparations of facilities and infrastructures to support those activities have been done properly, he said.

As of the international yacht rally being held as part of the SWB-2011, at least 20 of the total 120 participating yachts have arrived in Tanjung Kelayang waters, Belitung District.

"At present, other participating yachts are on the way to Tanjung Kelayang," Tajuddin said over last weekend.

The international yacht rally`s route is split into two, namely an Eastern Pass Rally and a Western Pass Rally, both starting in Darwin, Australia, on July 23, 2011.

The Eastern Pass Rally included passage points in Saumlaki (July 26-30), Banda (Maluku), Buru and Wakatobi (August 23-29), and finally Bau bau, Bulukumba, Makassar, and Labuhan Bajo in Sulawesi.

The Western Pass Rally chose Kupang (East Nusa Tenggara) as the entry point (July 27-31), and continued to Alor Lembata, Maumere, Ende, Riaung, and finally in Labuhan Bajo, as a meeting point for participants of the both routes.

The journey has continued to North Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara), Bali, Karimun Java, Kumai, and finally in Belitung, before proceeding to Singapore.

The rally`s participants have to pass 21 districts/cities in Indonesia and will finish in Singapore, according to Syahrin Abdurrahman, the marine affairs and fishery ministry`s director general of marine and fishery resources surveillance, in July 2011.

They are staying in Balitung for around a week until the peak event of SWB on October 12 and 13. They will later continue their journey to Singapore.

The SWB 2011`s theme is "Clean the Ocean for Future Life" to respond to the impact of climate change which has caused a rise in the sea`s temperature.

Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Muhammad Fadel has outlined four objectives of the marine event, namely: to make harmonization in benefiting the regions` potential for the welfare of the people; to promote Wakatobi and Belitung as domestic and international tourist destinations; to create the best sailing passage; and to make the marine and fishery potential in the two regions as a living source for the local people and the source of sustainable development in the regions.

The SWB is also organized to promote investment opportunities and tourism in Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi) and Belitung (Babel, Sumatara) in particular.

The SWB has been going since the second week of July until October 2011, with main destinations in Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi) in last August and Belitung District, Bangka Belitung Province, on Sumatra Island, in October 2011.

The Sail Wakatobi Belitung is part of Sail Indonesia event, which previously included Sail Bunaken 2009 in North Sulawesi and Sail Banda 2010 in Maluku.

"The international event will give positive impacts to the national economic development and to the economy in the regions especially," K.A Tajuddin said.

The SWB peak event will also be highlighted by a civic mission activity called "Bhakti Surya Bhaskara Jaya Operation" organized to give free medical services, from October 11 to 17, 2011.

"The social activity is being carried out by the Indonesian Navy in cooperation with the the health ministry, the social affairs ministry, as well as the Singaporean Navy, to help the regional government improve the health quality and welfare of the local people," he said

The Indonesian health ministry has sent 12 doctors to support the civic mission in Belitung from October 5 to 12.

The 12 specialist doctors are from M Husin Hospital in Jakarta, dr Kamal Amiruddin of the health ministry, said in Pangkalpinang last Monday (Oct 9).

The ships of the Indonesian and Singaporean Navies` have been standby at Tanjung Kelayang coast to facilitate free medical services to the Belitung community.

Belitung District, which is an island, is blessed with beaches having blue sea waters, coral reefs, fine white sand, and giant granite rock formations.

Its exotic beaches include 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.  (*)