Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Annual events, such as the cultural festivals of Lake Sentani, Baliem Valley, and Humboldt Bay have proven effective in attracting both domestic and foreign tourists to Indonesias easternmost province of Papua.

Increasingly more numbers of foreign tourists have shown profound interest in these cultural festivals and are visiting the province to enjoy its natural beauty and to gain firsthand information about the local culture.

According to Mayor of Jayapura Benhur Tommy Mano, the number of tourist arrivals in Papua through the provincial city of Jayapura continues to increase every year.

He noted that the annual tourism and cultural events in Papua have served as a yearlong gateway for the tourism industry in the province.

"In line with the several tourism events in Papua, the number of tourist arrivals has continued to increase during the past four years," Mano remarked in Jayapura on Thursday.

He noted that the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Papua in 2014 comprised 7,268 foreign tourists and 66,137 domestic tourists.

Mano further explained that the increase in the number of tourist arrivals was a result of the efforts made by the Jayapura Culture and Tourism Office to intensively promote the local tourism attractions.

"In a bid to develop the tourism attractions in Papua and to make it a tourist destination in eastern Indonesia, the local authorities continue to work closely with the tourism ministry and other relevant institutions for holding the tourism events," Mano affirmed.

He stated that the local authorities annually organize events such as the Humboldt Bay Festival, Baliem Valley Festival, and Lake Sentani Festival to promote the local culture and tourism attractions.

Mano expressed optimism that the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Papua through the city of Jayapura will continue to increase until the cultural events kick off.

In an effort to attract more tourists, Papua will host the Humboldt Bay Festival on August 5-7, which will be followed by the Baliem Valley Festival to be held on August 6-8, 2015.

Scheduled to take place in Usilimo region in Jayawijaya district, the Baliem Valley Festival is usually enlivened by various fascinating art and cultural performances, including traditional Papuan dance performances, pig racing, Puradan Rattan Spear Throwing, Sikoko Spear games, and Papuan traditional musical performances, among several others.

The festival will also feature a special Sege-throwing competition and an archery competition for foreign visitors as a mark of appreciation for attending the festival.

The mayor of Jayapura stated that the Humboldt Bay Festival is part of the efforts to support Papua Governor Lukas Enembes program to make the province one of the key tourist destinations in eastern Indonesia.

Mano also affirmed that the Humboldt Bay Festival will be synchronized and coordinated with the implementation of other events such as the festivals of Lake Sentani and Baliem Valley.

"We will certainly create a calendar, which will include the agenda of the festivals in the regions that can be useful to the local and foreign tourists," the Jayapura mayor noted.

In the meantime, Jayapura Culture and Tourism Office spokesman Bernard Fingkreuw has stated that the Humboldt Bay Festival will be organized in a bid to preserve Papuas unique and traditional arts.

Known as the land of "Cendrawasih," or bird of paradise, Papua is truly blessed with an abundance of natural resources and unparalleled traditional arts and culture that must be maintained.

"Whether it will be themed "Beautiful Numbay", "Beautiful Humboldt", or any other theme, the important aspect is that the festival should showcase the beauty of Humboldt Bay and feature various art and cultural activities and attractions," Fingkreuw remarked.

According to the spokesman, the city administration of Jayapura has assigned an event organizer for the annual Humboldt Bay Festival.

"We have appointed an event organizer to make preparations for the Humboldt Bay Festival this year. This is the first time that we have done it," Fingkreuw noted.

He added that the event organizer was appointed to make the festival, which has been included in the national tourism calendar, more professional.

"If the government organizes the festival again, it will be monotonous. However, with the event organizer, which includes creative people, the atmosphere of the festival will be different and even better this year," he affirmed.

Further, he affirmed that the Humboldt Bay Festival in Jayapura will be supported by the Ministry of Tourism.

Jayapura city, known in the past as Hollandia, is located in Yos Sudarso Bay, which was earlier known as Humboldt Bay.

American travelers to Jayapura will be interested to learn about the citys connection to the United States, and the role it played in World War II.

Fingkreuw noted that the Humboldt Bay Festival was scheduled in early August to avoid overlapping with the Baliem Valley Cultural Festival in Wamena, which is held on August 9 every year.

"We chose to hold the Humboldt Bay Festival early in the month of August, so that the visitors traveling to Wamena can stop over in Jayapura to attend the event," he explained.

Therefore, Papua Governor Enembe emphasized that the Humboldt Bay Festival should be promoted widely and packaged carefully, so that it can generate revenue for the city of Jayapura.

"This festival is unique and nice, as it will feature traditional dances, flute and drum performances, traditional menu cooking contest, hair weaving contest, and ornamental nut," he revealed.

Enembe also stressed that if all aspects of this annual event are well-packaged by involving all stakeholders from the board of hotels and restaurants, travel agencies, and related businesses, then it will be able to attract several local and foreign tourists.


Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Jafar M Sidik
Copyright © ANTARA 2015