Sports

Tapping Indonesia’s potential
for sports tourism

The development of Indonesia’s rich potential for sports tourism has been hampered by obstacles, says a top national sports figure.

The president of the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI), Rita Subowo, ticked off a list of several factors hindering the local development of sports tourism on Friday: “We still lack promotion, media exaggeration about security and a lack of government’s attention.”

Rita made her comments at a seminar on sports tourism held by Antara news service. The speakers included Tourism and Creative Economy Deputy Minister Sapta Nirwanda, West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno and marine tourism operator I Made Mandi Widhiana.

A blueprint to develop sports tourism in Indonesia has yet to be developed, according to Rita.

She pointed out that there was a need to capitalize on the tourism opportunities from sports events held in the nation.

“We set up what was called Cultural Education Program, or CEP, during the Asian Beach Games in 2008,” Rita said, referring to the Asian biennial sporting showcase that featured a selection of sports played at sea or on the sand.

“We did not distribute the medals at the end of a competition, but later at the CEP forum. Representatives from the provinces were invited to promote their cultural packages.”

Rita said that it was important to explore the unique potential for sports events in each of the nation’s provinces so that development could be better focused.

“We may later set up a circuit in beach volleyball and paragliding, for example, hosted by several regions,” she said.

“That would further encourage sports tourism.”

Meanwhile, Nirwanda said that he had heard that sports tourism was one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the travel and tourism industry.

He said that developing sports tourism could trigger the economic empowerment of local residents in underdeveloped provinces

West Sumatra Governor Irwan presented a list of sports events — local and international — that his administration has organized in hopes of cashing in on tourism as well.

One such event is the Tour de Singkarak, an international cycling race sanctioned by international cycling body.

“We still have problem with promotion, but we are committed to improving it,” he said.

Irwan said the development of sports tourism had boosted the number of local visitors to the province from 4.5 million in 2010 to over 5 million in 2011.

The number of foreign visitors were also said to have increased from 133,404 to 185,781.

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