Infrastructure Development to Boost Tourism in Raja Ampat

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  • Indonesian President Joko Widodo a.k.a. Jokowi visits the Raja Ampat in West Papua, January 1, 2016. ANTARA/HO/Setpres-Agus Suparto

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo a.k.a. Jokowi visits the Raja Ampat in West Papua, January 1, 2016. ANTARA/HO/Setpres-Agus Suparto

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaDeveloping the infrastructure, including extending the Marinda airport runway to boost tourism in Raja Ampat district, is part of President Joko Widodo`s pledge to focus more attention on the Papua region.

    The government of President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, has launched key infrastructure projects aimed at facilitating visitors' access to Raja Ampat.

    President Joko Widodo wants Marinda airports runway in Raja Ampat extended to 2,500 meters in order to serve larger aircraft, according to Raja Ampat District Head, Abdul Faris Umlati.

    During his visit to Raja Ampat recently, President Jokowi expressed his hope that the Marinda airport could be expanded like other airports in Indonesia with a 2,500 meters runway.

    Umlati explained that the local government has agreed and is ready to support the development of Marinda airport, but most of the land around the airport is a conservation area that requires further study by the relevant ministries.

    Marinda airport is currently serving only small planes and has a 1,200 meter runway that is 30 meters wide, but the Transportation Ministry will extend it to 1,600 meters.

    This will be done after the airport is handed over by the local government to the Ministry of Transportation which will manage and develop it.

    In addition, the people of Raja Ampat also want the airport to be expanded to accommodate wide bodied aircraft because the area is a world tourist destination.

    President Jokowi said tourism development in West Papua is being undertaken to develop Raja Ampat.

    "This year, we have set our focus on development of Raja Ampat," Jokowi said, adding that the budget has been set only for the development of an airport terminal and to extend the airport runway.

    The district administration has been told to prepare land for the project. Construction would start when land will be made available.

    According to the president, many things were on the agenda for infrastructure development in West Papua, especially in Raja Ampat district.

    With no direct flights to Raja Ampat, visitors heading to the islands have to take a domestic flight to the airport in nearby Sorong city, before taking another two-hour boat ride.

    The main airport in Sorong will undergo some work to enable it to accommodate international flights, while improvements are also being made to allow Marinda airport in Raja Ampat to service domestic flights from other Indonesian cities.

    There are also plans to build five-star hotels on the main Waigeo island, although the local government did not provide a specific timeline for those plans.

    Known as the most biodiverse marine habitat on earth, the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat in West Papua is an ideal destination for both local and foreign tourists to relax and unwind.

    The visitors to Raja Ampat have the opportunity to witness a multitude of marine habitats and coral reefs in one glance without having to swim a stroke.

    Raja Ampat comprises four large islands and hundreds of dots and specks off the fragmented western corner of the land of Papua, the worlds second-largest island.

    Most visitors arrive in Raja Ampat through Sorong, a city on the far west coast of Papua, which has an airport, army barracks, and a karaoke bar called Happy Puppy.

    In less than two hours from Sorong, the visitors can reach Raja Ampat, where they can indulge in activities, such as swimming, diving, and snorkeling, or just relax.

    Reaching Raja Ampat has now become easier as the Bahari Express fast boat, a public transportation service, is offering rides to foreign tourists from Sorong city to visit the tourist attractions there.

    Raja Ampat is home to a multitude of attractions and experiences.

    With thousands of people visiting Raja Ampats marine and natural attractions, visitors can skip the crowds and experience it all aboard the Bahari Express fast boat.

    "Our ship serves not only the local passengers but also foreign tourists who want to visit Raja Ampat," remarked Erwin, a Bahari Express crew member.

    In Raja Ampat, the tourists can enjoy not only the beautiful marine biodiversity but also the scenic beaches and gain local insights into the history of Raja Ampat.

    In terms of historic relevance, in the 15th century, the Raja Ampat Archipelago was part of the reign of Tidore Sultanate, a great kingdom centered in Maluku Islands.

    To run its government, the Sultanate of Tidore appointed four local kings to rule the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool, which are the fourth-largest until this day.

    The term "Four Kings" who ruled the islands became the basis for the name Raja Ampat, which comprises some 610 islands, with 753 kilometers of coastal line.

    Foreign tourists visiting Raja Ampat are enthralled by its beauty, found nowhere else in the world.

    Some of the tourist attractions in Raja Ampat are the Kabui Strait, Arborek Islands, Pasir Timbul, the iconic Wayag Islands, and Arborek Island.

    Arborek Island is fast developing as a region for marine conservation. The island, which includes the Arborek Village, has gained popularity for its success in developing it into one of the best marine conservation areas.

    The success has been recognized both by the local authority and international community.

    The island has succeeded in managing its conservation area since several parties, including the national and local governments, non-government organizations, research centers, and the local people have lent their support.

    Arborek Island has been simultaneously managed as a conservation area and marine tourism destination.

    Tourists visiting the island can experience the beautiful scenery, both on the surface and underwater. They can explore the scenic village on the island and the ocean life.

    The visitors can indulge in several activities on Arborek Island, including diving and snorkeling, but they have to carry along their own equipment due to the lack of rental facilities.