JAKARTA, presidentpost.id – Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has said that to make Central Sulawesi a world-class destination, the Mutiara SIS Al-Jufrie Airport in Palu should serve direct international flights.
“About 75% foreign tourists want direct flights, so Central Sulawesi has to make it happen if it wants to attract more tourists from other countries,” said Arief when launching the Central Sulawesi Calendar of Events 2018, accompanied by Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djanggola at the Tourism Ministry, Jakarta, on Tuesday (7/17).
The minister further explained that promoting tourism needs elements of 3A (Attractions, Amenities, and Accessibility). The main attraction in Central Sulawesi is maritime tourism, with its icon of Togean National Park, claimed as one of the best underwater destinations in Indonesia.
Unfortunately, the nearest town to Togean, named Ampana, is about 370 km from Palu or 8 hours driving. Therefore, the development of access to Togean Island is urgently needed.
“Togean Island is the best island in Indonesia for underwater attractions. Unfortunately, to get there we need 8 hours driving, ideally 2-3 hours. There must be a flight from Palu to Ampana,” said Arief.
According to him, the Mutiara Airport has met the specifications as an international airport for its runway has the length of 2,500 meters and width of 45 meters with a load-bearing power can be raised to 56 PCN for accommodating the aircrafts of Boeing 737-800 type.
“Central Sulawesi can learn from Banyuwangi Regency of which after having international airport, its tourism sector grew 300%. North Tapanuli Regency is also the same, after having Silangit International Airport the number of tourists in Lake Toba is up three times,” the minister said. The initial phase can be done by Palu Airport is serving charter flights and the Tourism Ministry is ready to provide subsidy.
Meanwhile, Governor Longki Djanggola said the connectivity is a major concern of the local government of Central Sulawesi in developing the tourism. Still, he has targeted to attract 3.825 million tourists consisting of 75,000 foreign and 3.75 million domestic.
“We have 8 flagship events this year, including the Pesona Palu Nomoni Festival held from September 28 to October 3 and the Pesona Lipuku Festival held on November 2-6,” he said, adding that there will be also Togean International Oceanic on August 7-11, Tour de Central Celebes on October 14-18, and Tomini Bay Festival on October 14-16. (KEMENPAR/TPP)