Sail Morotai expected to boost N Maluku`s tourism and fisheries

07 , 2012 | Source: Antara News

The final preparations are under way for Sail Indonesia 2012, or Sail Morotai, which will be held in Indonesia`s northernmost island of Morotai from September 12-15.

Approximately 5,000 guests, including foreign sailors, are expected to attend the international maritime event. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to inaugurate the Sail Morotai peak event at Daruba beach, Morotai island, on September 15.

Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono held a coordination meeting on Sail Morotai`s final preparations in Jakarta on September 4. Among the several ministers attending the meeting were Youth and Sports Minister Andi A Mallarangeng, Education and Culture Minister M Nuh, Tourism and Creative Economic Minister Mari Pangestu and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif C Sutardjo.

At the meeting, Agung expressed hope that Sail Indonesia 2012 would help speed up economic development in North Maluku, particularly in the tourism and fisheries sectors.

"The fisheries sector in North Maluku has the potential to contribute foreign exchange worth trillions of rupiahs to the nation if it is well managed," the minister said.

"The waters off Morotai island are home to some 191 species of fish, with a production capacity of 148,473.8 tonnes annually," he added.



"Such maritime potential is expected to attract investors from Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan. In fact, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on investment in the fisheries sector was signed by a Taiwanese company and a local partner called Jababeka," Agung stated.

The natural beauty of Morotai island, which is situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is also expected to attract tourists.

Agung, Sharif, and Public Housing Minister Djan Faridz visited Morotai Islands on September 2 to oversee the final preparations, particularly with regard to transportation and accommodation for the event`s participants and guests.

Djan stated that the preparations were "99 percent completed".

The Sail Morotai organizing committee and the Morotai Island administration have jointly developed the necessary infrastructure and facilities in order to ensure the event`s success.

In addition to the several hotels in Ternate, the capital of North Maluku, hundreds of houses of local inhabitants have been renovated to provide home-stays for participants and guests of the event.

Well-equipped tents will also be set up by Indonesian military officers to accommodate guests and participants, because of the limited number of hotels on the island.

Accommodation arrangements in Tobelo, a neighbouring city in North Halmahera district, have also been made in anticipation of increased demand during the event. Transportation will be provided from Tobelo to Morotai.

Earlier, Sail Morotai organizing committee chairman Muhadjir Albar said in Ternate that a ship of state-owned shipping line PT Pelni will also be available to accommodate some of the race participants in Daruba.

"The Pelni ship can accommodate up to 1,000 people, so this will help solve the hotel problem," he stated.

A special resort has been constructed for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is expected to stay overnight in the island.

"All infrastructure projects have been completed and the organizing committee is now focusing on the event`s activities," Albar noted.

Sriwijaya Air and Express Air will offer flights between Babullah Airport in Ternate and Pittu Trip airport in Daruba during the event.

Besides, according to a report from Taiwan news agency CNA, Indonesia will allow chartered flights from Taiwan to Morotai during the sailing event. A non-stop flight from Taipei to Morotai will take about three hours.

The Indonesian government suggested in 2010 that Taiwan take charge of the overall development of Morotai. The two countries have held talks on the issue several times since then.

Andrew Hsia, Taiwan`s representative to Indonesia, said the establishment of direct charter flights to Indonesia was necessary for Taiwan to develop Morotai island.

Meanwhile, North Maluku Governor Thaib Armiyn recently said: "North Maluku will use the Sail Morotai event to promote tourism in the region and also highlight the province′s natural resources. Hopefully after this event, the number of tourists visiting North Maluku will increase."


"The province has various tourist attractions, such as the World War II heritage sites on Morotai Island, its maritime resort, as well as the beautiful scenery in North Halmahera," he added.

(North Halmahera)



"We now have flights connecting Tokyo, Morotai and Bali in order to attract Japanese tourists. There is also an investor interested in constructing a five-star hotel in Morotai because he believes in the province`s tourism potential," the governor pointed out.

At least 100 World War II veterans, who were stationed in Morotai and other neighbouring islands during the War, have been invited to attend the opening ceremony.

The war veterans from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, are also expected to help promote the island as a tourist destination.

Morotai was used as a military base by the Allied forces in their battle against the Japanese in Asia-Pacific during the war.

The North Maluku provincial administration has built a World War II Museum in Morotai, which will be inaugurated during the Sail Morotai event.

"There are a number of tourist attractions in Morotai, many of which are World War II heritage sites, such as the islands of Sum-Sum and Dodola. We will develop them with better infrastructure facilities to attract more visitors," Thaib said.

"The island of Sum-Sum was used as a resting place by Gen. Mac Arthur, the chief of the Allied forces in Asia-Pacific. The island also has a water spring, named Glass Water, where Gen. MacArthur liked to bathe," he added.

A total of 133 yachts from 22 countries taking part in Sail Morotai set sail from Darwin, Australia, on July 28. There were 47 yachts from Australia, 20 from the US, nine from Canada, eight from New Zealand, seven from the Netherlands, and six from England, among others.

The rally participants were divided into two teams, which would take two different routes to Indonesia. The eastern route would pass through Saumlaki, Banda, Buru, Ternate, Wakatobi and Takabonerate, while the western route would be through Kupang, Alor, Lembata, Ende, and Riung.

Head of the North Maluku and Youth and Sports Affairs Office Djafar Umar recently said the guests and participants would be entertained with Soya-Soya dance on September 15.

"The Soya-soya dance will be performed below the sea level by around 100 divers from the Indonesian Diving Sports Association (POSI) branch of North Maluku," he stated.

"The dance will be performed besides a welcoming dance involving about 1,000 dancers in the presence of President Yudhoyono," Umar said.

The Soya-Soya dance depicts the heroic struggle of a Babullah Empire soldier, named Soya, who led an attack against Portuguese soldiers during the colonial era in order to retrieve the remains of Sultan Babullah.

"In Sail Belitung, there was a chess game under the sea. In Sail Bunaken, a red-and-white flag was hoisted below the sea level. And now in Sail Morotai, we will present the underwater Soya-Soya dance," he added.

Sail Morotai 2012 is the latest in the series of annual international sailing events held by the Indonesian government since 2000, with different islands being selected each year as the venue of the race.

Sail Bunaken was held in North Sulawesi in 2009, while Sail Banda was organised in Maluku in 2010. Last year, Belitung island hosted Sail Wakatobi.

 

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