The 2013 Sail Komodo can model a new development pathway for East Nusa Tenggara ( NTT ), one that could enable the province to flourish without relying on the mining sector.
Various groups in NTT, including NGOs and Catholic churches, have spurned the mining industry and espoused support for developing the province's tourism sector, which has rich potential.
Former environmental minister Sonny Keraf said on Friday that NTT could develop and prosper by investing in tourism because there was a conviction that the future economy would be increasingly centered on leisure time.
He said that this kind of economy would be focused on fulfilling leisure and entertainment needs.
'This is different from mining, which causes and leaves various environmental problems, sociocultural conflicts and economic problems for local residents,' he said.
'On the other hand, tourism will strengthen sustainable development, which in turn will guarantee a sustainable economy because it involves locals as an integral part of the tourism economy.'
He also said tourism guaranteed preservation of ecology and culture because both natural beauties and cultural attractions were necessary for drawing tourists.
Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited Komodo Island and had lunch there ahead of the Sail Komodo peak ceremony on Saturday.
The presidential entourage arrived at Komodo Airport in Labuan Bajo, the seat of West Manggarai regency, onboard a Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737 aircraft.
The airport's runway has been extended to allow single-aisle jet aircraft to land at the airport. Previously, the airport was limited to only smaller turboprop aircraft.
NTT Governor Frans Lebu Raya, provincial leaders and a number of ministers greeted the President at the airport.
The entourage then boarded the Navy's KRI Beladau-643 to reach Komodo Island from Labuan Bajo.
The Beladau is a locally made 40-meter fast missile ship ( KCR ). The ship was manufactured by
PT Palindo Marine Shipyard in Batam, Riau Islands.
Navy chief spokesman Cmdr. Untung Suropati said the Navy was deploying dozens of warships to participate in Saturday's peak ceremony.
The ceremony includes a sailing and warship parade, which will also have fishing boats from West Manggarai as well as yachts taking part in Sail Komodo.
Separately, the West Manggarai Civil Society Movement ( Gemas ) urged the president to immediately continue the abandoned construction of a hospital.
'Sail Komodo costs billions of rupiah while West Manggarai doesn't yet have a proper hospital,' Gemas chairman Siprianus Jemalur said.