TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The South Halmahera district government in North Maluku Province continues to develop Widi Islands as a global marine tourism destination in the province.
Situated in the south of Halmahera, Widi Islands, with white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and colorful coral, has been one of Indonesias best diving sites.
Hence, the South Halmahera district government is making every effort to transform Widi Islands into a superior marine tourism destination to attract more local and foreign tourists.
According to Head of the Tourism, Youth, and Sports Office Nur Kamarullah, the local government is demonstrating greater commitment to managing the area by focusing on marine tourism development.
He noted that Widi Islands has become the local governments key focus in the effort, as the island is already widely known as one of the worlds paradise destinations for beach lovers.
Comprising 99 small islands with white sandy beaches, Widi is often juxtaposed with other tourist attractions in the world and is often referred to as the "Maldives" of Indonesia.
"Widi Islands is indeed the future of the rise of tourism in South Halmahera and North Maluku, in general, and thus, the Department of Tourism has given the task of promoting it on a large scale," Kamarullah remarked in Ternate recently.
In addition to the large-scale development of Widi Islands, various festivals and tourism-based events are also planned to be held throughout the year, with the aim of increasing tourist visits to the area.
One such event is the International Fishing Tournament to be held in October 2017, which is also planned to be officially opened by President Joko Widodo.
Kamarullah noted that more than 100 anglers from various countries in the world, including Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and India, have confirmed their attendance at the International Fishing Tournament at Widi Islands.
According to Kamarullah, a culinary and cultural festival will also be held during the upcoming fishing tournament.
In June 2015, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was inked between North Maluku Province and PT Leadership Island Indonesia to develop Widi Islands into a tourist destination.
North Maluku Governor Abdul Gani Kasuba remarked at the time that he highly lauded PT Leadership Island Indonesias commitment to transforming Widi Islands into a tourist area in South Halmahera District.
Kasuba expressed hope that Widi Islands would be transformed into an international tourist destination in the eastern part of Indonesia, particularly in North Maluku.
He noted that in comparison with the beauty of the islands in Raja Ampat District, West Papua, Widi is much more scenic.
"Hence, with the signing of the MoU, Widi islands will soon be developed into a tourist destination in North Maluku," Kasuba remarked at the time.
In the meantime, spokesperson of PT Leadership Island Indonesia Natalia remarked that the company will soon follow up on the MoU to develop Widi Islands.
She noted that following the development of Widi Islands, the area could be visited by tourists from several countries.
Widi is one of at least 400 scenic islands in South Halmahera District, North Maluku.
Earlier in 2014, the South Halmahera district government had cooperated with a Canadian investor to develop Widi Islands into a global tourism destination.
As part of an MoU, the district administration will issue policies and regulations to support the development of the islands as a tourism destination and will also build infrastructure, such as a transportation network.
In the meantime, the Canadian investor will focus on the construction of accommodation facilities on Widi Islands, such as resorts and cottages for the visitors, and hold a global promotion campaign.
The journey to Widi Islands from Labuha, the capital city of South Halmahera, via sea transportation takes 11 hours.
Widi Islands, with white sandy beaches and panoramic natural views of the sea, comprise 99 small scenic islands that have the potential to attract domestic and foreign tourists.
To visit Widi Islands, tourists can take a flight to Ternate and then continue their journey using sea transportation or board a small plane to Labuha. The visitors can finally board a ship to reach the islands in South Halmahera.
Several foreign tourists will make South Halmahera a destination for marine tourism, since it offers panoramic views of the sea.
South Halmahera has a variety of places that can be used as a maritime tourism attraction for foreign tourists.
The district currently has several marine tourism mainstays that have been known to the public, including the panoramic coastal submarine Guraici Island, Nusa Raa tourist center, and the white sandy beach on the island of Widi in the Gane Timur Sub-district.