Jakarta, (Antara News ) - The Biak Numfor district government in West Papua aims to promote regional development and empower the local communities who live in primitive conditions.

Newly elected district Head Yesaya Sumbok has asked all levels of society, including prospective district heads and deputy district heads who lost in the past regional election, to join hands in the regional development.

"Together, let us join hands to develop the district into a leading international tourist destination in eastern part of Indonesia," Yesaya stated in the Papua provincial city of Jayapura on Tuesday.

He noted that all people including his political rivals are part of the assets and the future of Biak Numfor district in the regional development program.

The district is made up of two major islands of Biak and Numfor, and many other small islands with a number of beautiful beaches and crystal clear water in Cenderawasih Bay.

Biak is one of the better known areas of West Papua and it formerly served as a major air-stopover on trans-pacific flights from Jakarta.

At that time there were clear plans for developing this pearl of the island for tourism but that never really happened following the halt of trans-pacific flight.

Since then, international tourists virtually stopped visiting Biak, which is blessed with many atolls, reefs, and corals.

Biak now offers the most spectacular sea gardens in the world, and the sea around it are dotted by small islands that have very beautiful varied fish and corals.

Therefore, Yesaya is determined to develop marine tourism at the Padaido Islands to make Biak Numfor district an international tourist destination in eastern Indonesia.

"Consisting of 30 small islands, Padaido is a small archipelago with distinct uniqueness and attraction, and therefore we will develop it in order to be a leading tourist destination in Papua," Yesaya stated.

According to him, the cluster of Padaido islands has beautiful beaches and various types of habitats such as atolls, reef edge, and underwater caves.

"Therefore we are committed to developing the islands to support the local revenue by involving the local people, investors, and environmental observers," he noted.

Further, the Biak Numfor district head added that he had coordinated with the Yorrys Raweyai Foundation to develop marine tourism potential at Padaido.

"I have discussed the matter with Yorrys and we will follow it up later," he explained, adding that Padaido Islands is a paradise for both domestic and foreign tourists who like diving or snorkeling.

Meanwhile, Deputy District Head Thomas Ondi explained that Padaido is derived from the local language meaning the "inexpressible beauty", and in the past it was known as Schouter from William Schouter, a Dutch sailor who first discovered the islands in 1602.

According to Thomas, it takes just one hour from the Bosnik port to reach Padaido using motor boats, and about 3 to 4 hours using a canoe paddle to the islands, which offer a variety of attractions, underwater caves, and tunnels to explore.

He pointed out that the beaches on those islands have cotton-white sand and clear water with the sunlight penetrating into the seabed enabling the visitors to see the marine life from the mainland.

"Besides having the greatest biodiversity of coral ecosystems in the world, other things that that the divers should not miss are challenging underwater caves to be explored, the wrecks of sunken ships, aircraft, and tanks," he explained.

He noted that the maritime tourism development program in the surrounding islands of Padaido is advanced and promising throughout the year.

The programs include bio-diversification and fishing tourism development.

According to a study conducted by Biodiversity Conservation Network (BCN), Padaido is one of those places blessed with the greatest biodiversity of coral ecosystems in the world.

There are 95 species of coral and 155 species of fish, such as various types of sharks reef and octopuses as well as numerous other maritime properties.

Padaido Islands has reef area of about 9252 acres and 328.2 acres of deep reefs.

Some international divers argue that Padaidos beach area has the most spectacular coral reefs in the world, and therefore, this marine park is perfect for diving and snorkeling adventures.

Further, Biak public relations spokesman Estiance Kbarek noted that bird lovers sometimes spend most of their time in exploring the islands large and lovely bird park, which is home to birds of paradise as well as a couple of species that are native to the Biak Island.

"The sunsets on Biak Island are noted for their astonishing spectrum of color. The evening is a good place to wander along the shore and sip cocktails at chilled out beach bars," he elaborated.

He added that Yapen Island in the district is also home to typical birds of paradise, parrots, cockatoos, and many others for visitors to explore the bird community. (*)

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Otniel Tamindael
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