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SWISS GOVERNMENT, INDONESIA INK DEAL TO DEVELOP FLORES TOURISM INDUSTRY

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Theindonesiatoday.com — The Swiss government and Indonesia have reached an agreement to develop tourism industry of Flores island, which is still under-developed. The Swiss government is expected to allocate US$5 million to develop the tourism industry in this rugged island for four years.

 

The agreement was signed in Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province, by Switzerland Ambassador to Indonesia, Heinz Walker-Nederkoom, and Director General for Tourism Destination Development at the Ministry of Culture of Tourism, Firmansyah Rahim. The agreement was signed on Sept. 16 witnessed by NTT governor Frans Lebu Raya, Antara reported.

 

The Swiss aid worth US$5 million or Rp45 billion is to be spent from this year until 2013.

 

The Swiss Ambassador said that Flores Island has number attractive tourism objects such as Komodo Island, three-colors Kelimutu lake, pristine beaches, however having had attractive place alone would not attract tourists.

 

He said Switzerland which has hundreds of years in developing its tourism industry would like to share its experience in developing tourism sector in Indonesia in the hope that the sector would offer greater contribution to the national economy.

 

The aid to develop tourism industry in Flores is part of the Swiss government commitment to boost cooperation with Indonesia on areas of economy, trade, investment and development.

 

He said tourist places in the world are competing, therefore there is a need for better management. Cooperation is needed between players of the tourism industry and the government in marketing tourism objects in order to lure visitors.

 

Firmansyah Rahim said the tourism destinations in Flores need an integrated planning. So far, tourist destinations have been managed sporadically by those who focus on coastal areas and mountainous tourist destination areas.

 

“This cooperation program is aimed at developing all tourist destinations in Flores Island through integrated approach, therefore it will have a strong competitiveness,” said Firmansyah.

 

Frans Lebu Raya said under the planned program, wider community will involve therefore the tourism industry will also benefit wider community. Part of the program is to empower local people’s skills in managing the industry.

 

“I hope that through this program, the Flores Island people and East Nusa Tenggara province as a whole raise their awareness and involve in the development of tourism industry in this region, therefore the sector will provide optimum benefits,” said the governor.

 

Flores island is one of the biggest island of the East Nusa Tenggara province. Its main and popular attractions are the Komodo Island in the western tip of the island, three crater lakes of different colors in Ende in central part of the island, as well as whale hunting in Larantuka, eastern tip of the island.

 

In 2004, the island attracted world attention after paleoanthropologists discovered skeletons of previously unknown hominid species in Liang Bua cave in Manggarai, western Flores.

 

The project will be executed by Swiss NGO, Swiss Contact, which already had office in Labuan Bajo, the capital of West Mangarai Regency. The target of the project is to boost the number of visitors to the island to 45,000 in 2013 from 25,000 in 2008.

 

For visitors, Flores is a popular destination for adventurous travelers given poor transportation system and road condition across the island, making it difficult for travelers to get around the island. The island used to be linked with State-owned airline Merpati from Bali, however the airline has abandoned most of its routes. At present, visitors visited the island from Bali through sea transportation means or via airlines such as Trans Nusa, Lion Air’s unit Wings Air and Batavia.
roffie.kurniawan[at]gmail.com

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