Surfing Lures More Foreign Tourists to Come to West Sumatra

Many foreign tourists have arrived in Mentawai Island district in West Sumatra province in their preparation to enjoy surfing in the offshore district waters which was frequently selected as host for World Champions Surfing Series event.The tourists, among others coming from United States, Australia, Britain and Austria, arrived at the island by ferry or hiring boats after landing at Minangkabau International Airport (BIM) in Padang Pariaman district.

Martin Daly, head of world surfing agent, Indies Trader Marine Adventures from Australia said in Padang, capital of West Sumatra recently that ocean waves in Mentawai waters have the most consistent movements among the well known surfing locations in the world.There are about 400 spot surfing with almost six-meter high of the ocean waves which can be used by the surfers, Zulkarlin, head of Mentawai Island district tourist office told Antara.”The flow of tourist visits to Mentawai always increases annually and in 2007, the amount reaches about 12 thousand people for surfing,” Zulkarlin said, adding that the local government had established six resorts including Makaroni in Silabu Island, Kandui in Nyang Nyang Island, Saraina Koat Mentawai in Pulau Karang Majang, Alloyta in Simakakang Island, and Surfing Ground di Katiet in a bid to make the tourists feel comfortable.

According to Zulkarlin, 60 percent of about 12,000 surfers were Australian citizens, 39 percent from the U.S. Brazil, Europe, Asia, and one percent is Indonesian surfers.”We are waiting for investors to set up more resorts in Mentawai and will facilitate them to get licenses,” Zufkarlin said.In the meantime, Martin who has been promoting Mentawai’s sea waves in the world market since 1990, now operating four mini cruise-ships to carry the tourists.

He stated that surfing package price to Mentawai reaches US$2,500 or about 22.5 million rupiah per person for a visit of 20 day-stay. The income from tourism sector constitutes 95 percent of the provincial income, Zulkarlin pointed out.At present some 46 mini cruise-ships have been made available to help transporting tourists in the Mentawai waters.Target of tourist visitIn 2008, West Sumatra provincial government set a target of tourist arrivals as many as 131,123 people, with length of stay 4.08 days and daily expenditure amounting US$150 of each person.”The province is optimistic to reach the target with the support of tourist object diversification,” Head of the West Sumatra Tourism, Arts and Culture Office, H James Hellyward, said recently.

West Sumatra as one of tourist resorts in Indonesia has been set as a center of tourist development for western part of Indonesia with series of its tourist resorts.Several panoramas which are highly attractive to tourists among others Ngarai Sianok in Bukit Tinggi, Lake (Danau) Maninjau, Danau Diatas, Danau Dibawah, Danau Singkarak, Lembah Anai water fall, Ambun Pagi, Carolina Beach, Bungus Beach, Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat (National Park) and Singgalang volcano.Cultural attractions among others Pagaruyung Kingdom palace in Batusangkar, which is now undergoing renovation, he said, bringing optimism that West Sumatra will likely reach target of the tourist arrivals due to its cooperation with international events in Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, India and Japan.

Apart from that another tourism event which will be held in Padang starting from May 30 to June 1, 2008 and tourism promotion through a forum dubbed “Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT)” would also attract more tourists to the region, James said.

According to him, low flight route tariff from Padang to Malaysia and Singapore will also lure many tourists to visit the province.Padang Immigration office recorded tourists arrivals in 2007 reaching 113,822 people, with a length of stay 4.02 days and daily spending US$130.As may as 23,213 tourists coming from Malaysia, 1,481 from Singapore, 941 from several countries like US, Britain, the Netherland, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, and 37-400 people from Canada.

West Sumatra has at least seven districts/cities with beaches where tourists can do surfing and diving, for instance, in Pesisir Selatan district, H James Hellyward, said at the Asia Dive Expo (ADEX) which took place in Singapore from April 18 to 20 April.In addition, Hellyward said West Sumatra has places where tourists can see something more unique, namely the turtle breeding process.

The provincial tourism office would involve local fishermen in its effort to develop its turtle breeding areas as tourist objects as it is they who know precisely when the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, James said, noting that the most interesting period is during a full moon.It is expected that the turtles way of laying eggs could lure more foreign tourists to visit West Sumatra which also popularly called Minangkabau.

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