The government has set aside Rp1.7 trillion (US$121.42 million) for the development of Labuan Bajo - Photo by President Office.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The government has set aside Rp1.7 trillion (US$121.42 million) for the development of Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara province to become a super premium tourist destination this year. The funding support has increased by 10.4 percent from Rp1.54 trillion allocated in 2019.

Labuan Bajo, situated on the most western tip of the island of Flores, a buffer zone to Komodo National Park which was established in 1980, has stipulated as tourism authority by presidential decree number 32 of 2018.

The destination is one of four extraordinary priority destinations that are being prepared to host pre- and post-tours for delegates attending the IMF-World Bank Annual Meeting in Bali in October 2018. The three others being Lake Toba in North Sumatra, the Borobudur cultural park in Central Java and the Mandalika beach resort area in southeast Lombok.

During his official visit to the region on Monday (01/20), President Joko Widodo ordered the development of zones must begin this year. Five zones that need to be addressed are Bukit Pramuka, Kampung Air, container ports and passenger docks, Marina Area, and Kampung Ujung zone.

“We really need to integrate, both related to the neatness, cleanliness, comfort, and security for tourists,” said the president, explaining the five zones will become a public space with beautiful views. The zones are believed to be the driving force of development and the center community activities in Labuan Bajo.

For Labuan Bajo, the budget was channeled through five ministries. Among these the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing amounting to Rp979.3 billion, the Ministry of Transportation of Rp435.04 billion, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Rp244.74 billion, the Ministry of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration worth Rp21.72 billion, and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Rp29.23 billion.

Meanwhile, to the region’s officials, governor Victor Laiskodat and the regent Agustinus Dula, the head of state underlined the problem of a large number of disputed lands. The president urged the officials to pay attention to this matter given the number of investors who wanted to invest their capital in Labuan Bajo.

“So it is really harmonious between the existing customary law and the positive law that we have,” Widodo said, admitted there were domestic and foreign investors who wanted to invest their capital in Labuan Bajo, one of them from the United Arab Emirates, which days ago had an agreement with Indonesia for $2.8 billion projects.

The government is targeting Indonesia as a leading Asian and World tourism destination by 2045 with a total of 73.6 million foreign tourist visits, from the 18 million people set for 2019. The officials believed Indonesia’s diversity which includes more than 17 islands, 300 ethnic groups, 700 languages, world heritage sites, as well as the third-largest biodiversity is a great potential for tourism development.

This year, the government will focus on developing leading destinations with a target of 21.6 million foreign tourists in 2025 increasing competitiveness with a target of 31.8 million people, in 2030 increasing diversity of tourism with a target of 42.8 million people, in 2035 increasing the integration of tourism with a target of 57.5 people, National Development Planning Ministry has said.

Furthermore, in 2040 the strengthening as Asia’s flagship destination with a target of 65.1 million people, and finally in 2045 the strengthening as the world’s flagship destination with a total of 73.6 million people visiting, it said.

Besides the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, the authorities have said the tourism sector also directly contributed to foreign exchange reserves so as to strengthen the economy externally. Then tourism must become a government’s concern so that it can become the backbone of the Indonesian economy in 2045.

Tourism can also contribute to inclusive growth and more balanced national development by bringing investment to remote areas with tourist attractions. In 2018, Indonesia’s foreign exchange income from the tourism sector reached $17 billion, rose $2 billion from $15 billion a year earlier. And in 2019, the government targets the tourism sector to contribute $20 billion in foreign exchange.

US$1=Rp14,000

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com