PREPARATIONS are almost ripe for the implementation of the international maritime event of Sail Sabang to be held from November 28 to December 5, 2017, in Indonesia's westernmost Province of Aceh.
The Aceh provincial government, through the local Culture and Tourism Office, continues to finalize all preparations for the successful implementation of Sail Sabang and is confident that all would be completed in time.
Preparations are being intensified to ensure the success of the international maritime event, in which thousands of local and foreign tourists and guests are expected to visit the city of Sabang on the westernmost tip of Sumatra Island.
Sail Sabang is also expected to effectively promote the natural and underwater marine beauty of Sabang and the surrounding island of Weh.
Coordination with all relevant agencies continues to be made to prepare the various means of land, sea, and air transportation to successfully host Sail Sabang 2017, according to Aceh Culture and Tourism Office Chief Reza Fahlevi.
The Ministry of Transportation, in cooperation with the city government of Sabang, will provide 29 buses to serve the sail participants, tourists, and guests who will arrive to witness the international maritime event.
Four slow ships and speed boats as well as several roll-on/roll-off ships will be provided to ferry the passengers between Ulee Lheu and Sabang. In addition, the Navy will operate four frosch and water taxi boats for the Malahayati-Balohan route on December 1-3, 2017.
The national flag carrier Garuda will operate additional flights to Aceh from Nov 29 to Dec 3 to ensure the grand success of Sail Sabang. More than five thousand domestic and foreign tourists are expected to visit Aceh Province to witness Sail Sabang.
Sail Sabang will be enlivened by various art and cultural attractions, including mass dances, Sabang wonderful expo, Aceh fun dive, international aerobatic show, international diving competition, and coffee and culinary festival to entertain the tourists, guests, and sail participants and to make them feel at home.
Hence, a total of 180 tour guides, certified by the Pramindo Professional Certification Institute, are ready to welcome the tourists and to offer them the best possible services.
The National Agency for Professional Certification has issued certificates to the 180 tour guides, Chairman of the Aceh Tour Guides Association Zainuddin Johan remarked.
According to Johan, all tour guides are ready to provide the best services to domestic and international tourists who will visit Aceh to witness the national annual event of Sail Sabang themed "Towards Sabang, Gateway of World Maritime Tourism Destination."
President Joko Widodo is scheduled to open Sail Sabang, as part of the government's efforts to make Sabang City the gateway to Indonesia.
"Sail Sabang is not just managed by an event organizer but it is also a state project to make Sabang the western gateway to Indonesia," House of Representatives' Vice Chairman Fahri Hamzah remarked in Sabang recently.
Hamzah stated that ahead of the implementation of Sail Sabang, the central government should have reviewed the locations where the national event will be hosted and conducted repairs for the required infrastructure. Several guests and tourists from various countries will visit Sabang during the event, thereby making the event a viable opportunity to promote Aceh.
Hence, Fadhlullah, a member of the House of Representatives' Commission VI, has encouraged the Aceh provincial government to capitalize on the momentum offered by the event to conduct tourism promotion, in particular, and also to increase investment.
By hosting the event, the Aceh district government can promote tourism and investment and cooperate with various parties to increase economic growth and create job opportunities for people in the westernmost province, according to Fadhlullah.
He further suggested that the government should devise a concrete concept of various areas of economic potential, with the aim of attracting investors to the province.
"Guests from several countries will be present at the event, and this is a golden opportunity that must be utilized, as we will not have to spend huge amount of funds to go around the world to promote Aceh," the Acehnese legislator revealed.
The international maritime event in Sabang is expected to encourage investors to invest, especially in the tourism industry in Aceh.
"The event should be optimized to encourage private investment in the tourism industry," Iskandar, head of the Capital Investment and Integrated One-Stop Service of Aceh Province, remarked.
He acknowledged that Sabang has marine tourism potential that is no less interesting than that in other regions. Speaking in connection with the tourism industry in Aceh, Iskandar pointed out that Sabang has become a barometer, but the city`s tourism potential had yet to be managed optimally.
Hence, Sail Sabang is expected to encourage growth in the tourism industry in Sabang, which comprises several scenic islands, including Weh. The sail event is part of the efforts to develop Sabang as a maritime tourism destination, as the government has set a medium-term plan for 2019 to develop Sabang.
Foreign tourist arrivals in Sabang currently reach some 12 thousand. By 2019, the number is expected to increase threefolds to reach some 30 thousand. Thus, the local government needs to improve accessibility and human resources to serve as guides and diving instructors.
Sabang city government's spokesman Sofyan Adam has affirmed that the local government will continue to promote the tourism industry, with the hopes of improving the welfare of the local communities.
"We continue to make improvements and rectify any shortcomings in stages to offer convenience to the tourists, as tourism is the mainstay product of Weh Island, whose landscapes and forests are beautiful," Adam noted.
In the meantime, Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf has expressed hope that the event would run successfully and make the city a gateway for foreign tourists to the province.
"We are determined to make Sail Sabang a success and make the city of Sabang a gateway for international and domestic tourists," the Aceh governor noted.
As part of the national annual event of Sail Indonesia, Sail Sabang is expected to attract more than 100 yachts from different countries to participate in the international yacht rally. Yachters from Europe, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand and those from other parts of the world are expected to participate in the international yacht rally; hence, preparations are being optimized by the Aceh provincial government. [antaranews/photo special]