The Jakarta Post
The beautiful landscape and bike-friendly roads across Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, have boosted the local economy and brought benefits to the local people.
Tourism has continued to grow in Flores following the inclusion of Komodo National Park as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and bicycle tours have played a great role in the island's tourism-based economy.
In Flores, recreational bicycling is now mainstream. More and more tourists choose to ride bikes to visit places across the island, particularly Kelimutu,a tri-colored lake located in Moni village, Ende regency.
A bicycle tour guide from Flores Cycling Tours, Yohanes Jehabut, said that cycling had begun to develop on the island in 2013.
'Bicycle-tourism was initiated in 2012 but it was implemented by Flores Cycling Tours tour guides in 2013 -- the only bicycle tour provider in Flores at that time. Flores Cycling Tours mapped out bicycle touring routes across the island from February to April 2014, with the support of a cycling consultant from Switzerland, Oscar Runch, and sponsorship from Swisscontact [an international development agency founded by the Swiss private sector],' Jehabut told thejakartapost.com.
He further said that, in its second year, the exploring Flores riding bikes tourism program had attracted tourists from areas across the world, such as Asian and European countries and the US. Flores Cycling Tours had facilitated cycling programs for tourists from various countries, such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Singapore, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.
Jehabut said that Flores cycling tour requests had continued to increase. He said that his cycling tour service now offered routes that pass several scenic destinations across the island, such as Kelimutu National Park, Bena traditional village, Jerebuu old village, Mount Inerie, and Aimere, widely known for its traditional alcoholic beverage, or 'arak', manufacturing plants, and Labuan Bajo, the capital of West Manggarai, rich with beautiful beaches and diving spots.
Jehabut said each cycling route had a distance of around 300-350 kilometers, half of the total distance from Maumere in Ende regency, East Manggarai, to Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai.
The deputy chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) East Nusa Tenggara, Yohanes Rumat, told thejakartapost.com that bicycle tourism in Flores was a new opportunity that might boost the island's local economy. Unique natural tourism and adventures Flores offered were in line with the interests of domestic and foreign tourists, especially those who loved bicycle tours.
'This is a profitable for future tourism in Flores. Bicycle tourists in Flores may need to stay longer because they need to take a rest during their trip from one route to another. At each tourism object they visit, they may need to take a break and spend the night,' said Rumat, who is also an East Nusa Tenggara Legislative Council member.
He said each tourist who chooses to explore Flores by bike may need around 7-8 days. 'So, they will have to spend money for various needs during the trip. They need a long stay on the island. This is a new opportunity for local administration from each area across Flores to increase its local revenue from the tourism sector,' said Rumat.
'I'm calling on local administrations in Flores to be smart in benefiting from this opportunity. Local residents should better prepare culture events and local products. They can present cultural performances, such as traditional dances and offer local handicrafts to the tourists and introduce new tourism objects to them,' he went on. (ebf)