Home sweet home: White tip reef sharks can be found in Bunaken Marine Park. (Celebrate the Sea festival/File)
On Aug. 12, Bunaken Island in North Sulawesi held the annual Bunaken Charm Festival themed “I Love Bunaken.”
The festival offered several interesting activities, such as art and cultural performances, volley ball game, boat rowing competition, Bunaken clean-up, Katinting boat decoration competition, snorkeling, traditional games and grilled-fish party.
Indonesian Idol alumna Gio was also invited to perform at the festival.
Apart from Bunaken, Manado is also home Lake Tondano, Siladen Island and Tangkoko National Park. It is also famous for its traditional cuisines, such as ayam woku belanga, cakalang fufu, bubur tinutuan and ayam rica-rica.
Deputy chief for investment promotion at the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), Himawan Hariyoga, said even though Manado is not on the tourism ministry’s 10 priority destinations list, the number of tourists visiting Manado keeps on increasing.
“The number of visitors coming to Manado has improved amazingly. If I’m not mistaken, the number went from 12,000 people per year to 12,000 per month. With this program we can attract more tourists and improve the economy in Manado,” said Himawan.
Himawan said most of the tourists were from China and he believed that China would become one of the biggest investors in Manado.
“It’s related to the availability of direct-flight routes from several cities in China to Manado,” Hariyanto added.
China is a huge country with the biggest population in the world. In 2015, the number of tourists from China was 120 million people.
The country however lacks beaches and has four seasons in a year.
“They love marine tourism and Manado and its surrounding offer a world-class marine destinations,” said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.
According to BKPM data, the investment in North Sulawesi is mostly dominated by electricity, gas and water sectors. It is recorded that the domestic investment is up to Rp 3.4 trillion (US$254.43 million) whilst foreign investment is at US$209 million.
Thirteen percent, or $26.9 million, of the total of foreign investment is for tourism sector, specifically hotel and restaurant investment. (kes)