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Raja Ampat turns to Bali to help promote tourism
April 16th, 2010

In an attempt to attract more tourists, West Papua’s Raja Ampat regency opened a representative office in Bali to promote marine tourism in the regency, known as one of the world’s best diving spots.

The office will provide complete information about tourism in Raja Ampat and offer travel document services. It will also serve as an information center for investors interested in entering the regency.

Regent Marcus Wanma said his administration decided to open the Bali office since they believed the resort island was a potential draw for tourists from around the world.

“Bali can also serve as a transit point. Tourists can make the journey to Raja Ampat from here,” Marcus said at the inauguration ceremony of the representative office located on Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai in Sanur.

The popular diving spot of Raja Ampat was visited by around 4,000 tourists last year, mostly foreign tourists from the US, Australia, Japan and Europe. The regency is targeting to increase tourist arrivals to to between 5,000 and 6,000 this year.

Raja Ampat lies at the center of a coral triangle and boasts a rich marine biodiversity with more than 456 coral species – more than half of the total coral species globally – and around 828 coral fish species.

Located in the northwest of West Papua, Raja Ampat consists of 610 islands, including the four main islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Misool and Salawati.

The area offers diving facilities, beaches and mountains in Wayag area. Tourists can also observe the cultural life of Raja Ampat residents.

Since the regency was established in 2003, the administration has been increasing efforts to develop marine tourism there, including by improving accessibility to the area by building roads, telecommunication networks and airports, Marcus said.

To widen access, the regency, which is still blanketed by forests, began constructing airports in Waigeo, Misool, Waisai and Ayau in 2007. The regency allocated Rp 2.5 billion to build each airport.

Currently, Sorong is the main entry point into Raja Ampat.

“Tourist can only go to Raja Ampat through Sorong and continue their trip by ferry. We expect that the new airports will be ready to use by the end of this year,” Marcus said.

Direct flights to Sorong are available from Manado and Makassar.

The head of the regency’s tourism and culture agency, Yusdi Lama Tenggo, added that should the new office in Bali succeed in attracting more tourists to Raja Ampat, the regency would open more offices, including in the North Sulawesi capital of Manado and in Singapore.

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