NTB sets high hopes for Mt. Tambora as a tourist attraction
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The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) provincial administration has announced plans to launch the 2015 Visit Lombok Sumbawa (VLS) program with a target of drawing 2 million visitors to Lombok and Sumbawa islands by 2015.
Enthusiasm for the campaign is buoyed by the success of the 2012 VLS, launched by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the middle of 2009, to reach its target of drawing 1 million visitors to Lombok and Sumbawa islands.
“The 2012 VLS target has been reached. On the third Sunday of November, 2012, the number of tourist arrivals to NTB surpassed 1 million visitors. We will organize the 2015 VLS program with a target of drawing 2 million visitors each year from 2015 onward,” said NTB Tourism and Culture Office head Lalu Moh. Faozal.
Faozal added that one of the approaches to boost future tourist arrivals in NTB was to promote the 200th anniversary of the Mount Tambora eruption on Sumbawa Island.
The eruption in 1815 was one of the world’s largest volcanic eruptions and impacted various corners of the world. The eruption sank the Pekat kingdom on Sumbawa, and the volcanic ash also affected seasonal cycles in Europe.
“We can sell Mt. Tambora for the 2015 VLS and further improve our other prime destinations, such as Senggigi Beach and Gili Trawangan Island [both in Lombok],” he said.
Access to NTB has become easier thanks to the operation of Lombok International Airport in Central Lombok.
Currently, the airport serves direct flights from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and several other countries.
The province has been included in the Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI) under Economic Corridor V, together with Bali and East Nusa Tenggara, as a national tourism gateway and an area to support food security.
NTB Tourism Promotion Agency (BPPD) member Halus Mandala said that to reach the target of 2 million visitors in 2015, the provincial administration and every stakeholder should not only start developing tourist destinations, but also organizing local communities.
In addition to needed improvements in infrastructure, security and tourism comfort in Lombok and Sumbawa are also seen as issues that need to be addressed.
“Rumors saying that NTB is not safe and is prone to conflict should be minimized by raising the awareness of every party, including the community. Security personnel cannot work by themselves to guarantee security without support from the community,” he said.
However, tourism awareness among communities in NTB, especially those living around tourist destinations, remains low.
“We have formed many Tourism Awareness Communities [Pokdarwis], but many of them are not aware of what to do,” Siti Alfiah, the head of the NTB Tourism and Culture Office’s tourism product section, told The Jakarta Post.
A Pokdarwis is made up of 20 people from various societal elements, including the village administration, community and religious figures, youth and small and medium-scale entrepreneurs.
Their duties include maintaining security and comfort in tourist destinations and keeping tourism areas clean.
NTB, Siti said, aimed to form another 100 Pokdarwis by the end of 2013. As of 2012, 247 Pokdarwis were established in Lombok and Sumbawa.