The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has put high hopes on Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, saying that the development should be accelerated as he expects the tourism destination to be ready to host international events in the years to come.
Jokowi returned to Jakarta on Tuesday from the town of Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the popular Komodo National Park, after embarking on a two-day visit during which he and several of his Cabinet ministers, among others, gathered to discuss the development of the area into a "super premium" tourist destination to lure more foreign visitors.
“We need to improve everything in here, including the infrastructure and the landscape. There are also waste problems and clean water issues that we should tackle. We should work hard so that in 2021 the Tourism Ministry can start promoting the island,” Jokowi said as quoted in a statement released by the State Palace on Monday.
"More importantly, we also want to prepare Labuan Bajo [to host] the G20 [Summit] in 2023 and the ASEAN Summit in 2023," he said, noting that in 2023 Indonesia is to hold the presidency of the G20 and the chairmanship of ASEAN.
During Monday's coordination meeting, Jokowi also highlighted the waste problems both on land and in the ocean.
Starting in February, the ministries and agencies are to go deep into the water to clean up the ocean.
Jokowi said that the Public Works and Housing Ministry is to develop an incinerator to manage the trash retrieved from the sea and landfills as he called for the local government to educate residents about better managing their domestic waste. He also ordered the ministry to increase the capacity of the existing water treatment plants to 100 milliliters per second and keep increasing the figure.
The President had also asked Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya to establish a nursery that can produce around five to seven million trees per year so that ecosystem could be preserved in Labuan Bajo.
“We hope the tourists will spend more money and stay longer here. It will no longer be about the number of the tourists, but the amount of money they splurge when in the area,” he said.
Jokowi's administration has targeted Labuan Bajo to become one of the government's five super-priority destinations as a part of its efforts to make the tourism industry one of the new drivers of economic growth.
In July last year, Jokowi said that the government planned to accelerate the development of tourism facilities in Labuan Bajo to attract more visitors, including through the construction of Komodo Airport -- with a bigger terminal and longer runway -- to accommodate more international flights to the region.
The President had expressed hope in October for Labuan Bajo to become a "super premium" tourist destination and ordered the management not to mix it with a tourist destination for “middle- to lower-income tourists”. He even asked Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio to apply a quota system for tourists visiting Labuan Bajo, the nearest town to access Komodo Island, where Komodo dragons live.
Prior to leaving for Jakarta, Jokowi handed out land certificates to residents on Tuesday morning, during which he told them that the government planned to upgrade Labuan Bajo so that it could receive more international tourist visits, which in turn was expected to bring economic growth and welfare for local people.
"Thus I request for [residents] living around Labuan Bajo to be ready. Be friendly to tourists and please don't litter; we need such preparedness in Labuan Bajo," he said.