The Jakarta Post
Officials in Berau, East Kalimantan, say they are ready and waiting to hold the Derawan Festival 2013 in June, seeing it as a prime opportunity to promote the tourism potential of the area.
“When it comes to infrastructure, we have good roads, making Derawan easily accessible. In addition, we have good hotels, good food and everything related to the visits of domestic and foreign tourists to the event. We are definitely ready,” said Berau Regent Makmur HAPK at his office recently.
The idea of holding the festival — named after the pristine group of islands in the regency — came from Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono.
The minister said in a visit to the area last year that Berau would be an integral part of the implementation of both Sail Komodo 2013 and Derawan Festival 2013, planned as an annual event.
Makmur was grateful for the trust placed in the regency, and said the promotion of the event by the welfare minister presented huge value in making it known throughout the archipelago.
“This is a golden opportunity to promote the tourism potential that Berau regency offers. The minister has seen the great potential of the Derawan Islands. This is our capital to realize it [the Derawan Festival],” he said.
“The most important thing is how to make the public aware of it and interested in coming to the festival. With a strong will to make Derawan Festival into an annual event, we expect that the festival will showcase our cultural appeal and tourism potential, especially marine tourism.”
In his visit to Berau, Agung, who chairs the organizing committee of Sail Indonesia, said Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu were involved in discussing the inclusion of activities for the Derawan Festival in to Sail Indonesia, which will be held in line with Sail Komodo.
“So, the agenda for Sail Komodo is to be held in June of this year and will be centered in both Labuan Bajo and in East Kalimantan, especially the Derawan Islands. The program will be either in the form of a marine tourism expo or seminars on various existing potential districts in Berau,” Agung said.
East Kalimantan Governor Awang Faroek Ishak hailed the planned holding of the Derawan Festival, declaring, “[…] We give full support to the implementation of the festival, which is in line with Sail Komodo in Labuan Bajo. This is an opportunity to promote Berau as one of the leading tourism spots in East Kalimantan among the international community.”
Awang added the tourism industry was one of the prime non-oil natural resources and it should be developed in addition to the potential of other renewable natural resources.
“We should not only rely on oil and gas and coal mining but we must continue to explore other potential renewable resources, such as agriculture, tourism, farming, fishing and more; we have to support them fully.”
The Derawan Festival will be on the theme of “Derawan for the Future”, aimed to promote the natural beauty of the Islands as one of the leading tourist destinations in Indonesia.
He said the festival is expected to increase the number of domestic and foreign tourists to the Derawan Islands. This event is part of the spirit of the slogans Wonderful Indonesia, Visit East Kalimantan and Recognize Your Country, Love Your Country.
Derawan Islands offer a myriad of charming marine tourism attractions, with underwater parks being one of them. The parks continue to attract foreign tourists, especially world-class divers.
The most popular islands in the group are Maratua, Derawan, Sangalaki and Kakaban.
“Kakaban is incredible and amazing, with a lagoon found in the middle of the island. It is the largest jellyfish lake. There are only two jellyfish lakes in the world, one in Palau and another in Kakaban. Foreign tourists should know about this as it proves how wonderful Kakaban island is. Kakaban is also known as a ‘heaven’ for divers. They can swim in the ‘soup’ [of jellyfish] without fear of being stung because the jellyfish in Kakaban have no sting,” Awang said.
Geographically, the islands are situated in the northern peninsula of Derawan waters in Berau District, consisting of Pulau Panjang, Raburabu, Samama, Sangalaki, Kakaban, Nabuko, Maratua and Derawan. There are also the natural phenomenon of reefs delta such as Gusung Muara, Gusung Pinaka, Gusung Buliulin, Gusung Masimbung and Gusung Tababinga.
There are several small islands with coastal ecosystems which are home to coral reefs, seagrass-beds and mangroves. In addition, many species are protected in the islands such as green and hawksbill turtles, whales, dolphins, clams, coconut crabs, mermaids, fish, barracuda and other species.
Meanwhile, Berau Regency Public Relations Head Mappasikra Mapasalleng said a variety of tourist activities will be included in the upcoming festival. The activities will take place both in the islands and Tanjung Redeb, the capital of Berau Regency.
“The Derawan Festival will begin in June in line with Sail Komodo; the top event will be conducted on Sept. 15 to coincide with the 203rd anniversary of the Tanjung Redeb capital and the 60th anniversary of Berau regency” Mappasikra said.
Mappasikra added that the event will include things related to the tourism potential of the Derawan Islands and Berau. “For example, marine exhibitions and activities that promote tourism [such as underwater photography, a fishing competition, race boats, marine seminars and others]. The packaging will be implemented by the Ministry of Tourism and we will provide total support,” Mappasikra said.
Regarding infrastructure in the district, on Feb. 23 the Transportation Minister inaugurated the operation of the Kalimarau airport terminal in Tanjung Redeb, Berau, one of the projects of the Master Plan for Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI). The Rp 400 billion (US$41.27 million)-terminal is the first of its kind to be equipped with the garbarata (passenger embarkation) system.
—All photos Courtesy of Berau Regency’s PR Documentation Division