The Anambas Tourism Agency in Riau plans to develop three islands once used as asylum camps into tour destinations for former Vietnamese refugees who were once housed on the islands.
The tourism agency’s head of promotion, Sofyan W, told The Jakarta Post on Friday that around 14,000 Vietnamese citizens fled their home country when political turmoil occurred in the 1970s.
He said the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) housed refugees in temporary camps on the three islands – Air Raja, Kuku and Letung – before they were relocated to a refugee camp on Galang Island in Batam prior to getting asylum in a third country.
“In 2007, representatives of an international association for ex-Vietnamese refugees visited Anambas after locating Kuku and Letung islands by searching for them on Google,” said Sofyan.
He said the representatives claimed that many former refugees were interested in visiting the islands.
Since 2009, groups of ex-Vietnamese refugees have routinely visited Kuku and Letung islands. They made devotional visits to the graves of relatives who died there. The islands have more than 100 graves of Vietnamese people.
“Every year, two groups visit the islands and each group consists of 60 people,” said Sofyan.
Sofyan said the development of the three islands as historic tour destinations would increase tourist attractions in Anambas regency. (ebf)