Sabang tourism pins hope on new minister

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The natural seaport city of Sabang on Weh Island in the western part of Aceh province which is rich in marine tourism potentials is waiting for the new tourism minister`s help to develop its tourism.

Sabang which has a natural deep-sea port sits on Weh Island where the extraordinarily beautiful submarine biota and scenery constitute great potentials for the development of marine tourism.

With these potentials, local tourism operators are convinced that newly appointed Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu will not ignore it and extend a helping hand to develop and advance Sabang`s tourism.

"The central government will not ignore Aceh`s tourism potentials but will continue to pay attention to its development , particularly the development of Sabang tourism," Aceh tourism operator Zulfikar said.

Zulfkiar, who is also secretary of the Indonesian Restaurant and Hotel Association (PHRI) for Aceh, said that Aceh expected the minister`s attention through her ministry in the form of promotions of the province?s potentials.

"At least, Sabang, which is now developing itself into a national tourism destination should be promoted as a venue for national and international tourism events," Zulfikar said.

The ministry of tourism and creative economy was also expected to partner with national investors to develop Sabang.

Head of Sabang`s Tourism and Culture Service Yusfah Hanum also expressed hope that Minister Mari Elka Pangestu would launch intensive promotions to introduce the tourism potentials of Sabang Islands.

"I am confident that Madam Mari Pangestu would come to see herself the tourism potentials of Sabang whose beauty has been well-known not only by local tourists but also foreign ones. These potentials should be developed so that it would be comparable to other popular tourism destinations in the country," Yusfah said.

Yusfa said that Sabang very much hoped that it would be able to host various national and international tourism events that could boost the progress of local economy. The local people were aware of the importance of the economic growth through the tourism sector in their region.

In the meantime, the local government is of the view that Sabang city is ready to welcome investors who will build star-rated hotels to support the region as an international tourist destination.

"We will do our best so that investment in Sabang will run well. The local people will be very happy if they have enough infrastructures to support the region`s tourism," Sabang Deputy Mayor Islamuddin said on Saturday.

He said that the local government would provide facilities and comfortable business climate for investors who were will to develop supporting tourism infrastructures in the region.

Regarding land, Islamuddin said that investors did not need to worry about because investment areas had been made available. Sabang Business-Area Development Authority (BPKS) has cleared people`s lands which are designed as business areas for investors.

A number of investors have in the past several months come to Sabang to explore the possibility of building star-rated hotels in Sabang which is located about 14 miles away from Banda Aceh City.

"A number of national investors have conducted a survey but none of them have yet to expressed commitment to starting building star-rated hotels," the mayor said. He said that the presence of star-rated hotels in Sabang was badly needed by tourists, both foreign and locals. So far, Sabang only has several non-star hotels and tens of hostelries.

"We are convinced that Sabang deserves star-rated hotels as it has awesome natural beauty which could attract not only local visitors but also foreign tourists," he said.

Tourism observers and foreign visitors admitted that Sabang had beautiful tourism objects such as the undersea natural panorama at Pulau Rubiah, the white sand beach of Gapang and a number of other tourist destinations in the Weh Island.

The local government will also maintain Sabang?s natural beauty in developing its tourism.

Therefore, The local government will introduce an environmentally friendly tourism development concept through a conservation program, especially in Aneuk Laot tourism area.

"The local government of Sabang has the commitment to developing Sabang`s tourism sector through an environmentally friendly concept," Head of Sabang`s Tourism and Culture Service Yusfah Hanum said.

In developing the facilities at Lake Aneuk Laot, the local government will not use cement materials so that the location would look naturally beautiful and match the existing environs.

"The development of supporting facilities will become the local government`s priorities so that the tourism sites will remain clean and natural in an effort to make visitors enjoy themselves when they visit Sabang," Yusfa said.

This means that international tourists who have ever visited Sabang would come back to Sabang such as those who took part in the recent Sabang International Regatta 2011, a yacht festival, where at least 11 yachts came from the Netherlands, Britain, the United States, Australia, Malaysia and Thailand .

Sabang Internasional Regatta 2011 was aimed at introducing maritime tourism potentials of the island which has a population of 30 thousands and a target of attracting at least 10,000 tourists annually.