Jakarta, (Antara Sumbar) - Challenged to become a leading tourism destination in the easternmost tip of Java Island, the Banyuwagi district is poised to host the International Kite and Wind Surfing Competition as part of sport tourism to promote the exotic island of Tabuhan.
A small uninhabited atoll encircled with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, Tabuhan Island is one of popular tourist attractions in Banyuwangi.
Popular tourist attractions in Banyuwangi are the Red Island Beach, Ijen crater located at an altitude of 2,443 meters above sea level, with a depth of 200 meters, Teluk Hijau or Green Bay, and the Tabuhan Island, among others.
Hence, this prestigious International Kite and Wind Surfing Competition that will take place at Tabuhan Island from August 26-27, 2017, is one way to promote regional tourism.
Banyuwangi District Head Abdullah Azwar Anas remarked on Thursday that the sport tourism event will be followed by 50 professional surfers from 13 countries, including Indonesia.
Azwar Anas noted that the International Kite and Wind Surfing Competition is the most fitting event to promote the regional tourism, especially the Tabuhan Island, because the participants are from the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Switzerland, France, The United States, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and Malaysia.
"Sport tourism is considered effective to encourage tourism, because we can have two benefits: first, the athlete and sport enthusiasts will visit Banyuwangi, and the second is the promotion of tourist destinations, especially Tabuhan Island," Anas remarked.
Tabuhan is a small island with white sand and beautiful coral reefs in the vicinity of the Wongsorejo village. It takes only 20 minutes by boat to get to the island, known to have a wind that is suitable for kite surfing and windsurfing.
This small island is described as a picturesque perfect flat water spot for those who love free riding and throwing their latest tricks in super smooth water.
Beautiful untouched scenery, combined with steady trade winds of up to 25 knots between May and November, will make the Tabuhan Island the newest kite and windsurf destination in Southeast Asia.
Covering an area of about five hectares just opposite Bali Island in the strait of Bali, Tabuhan has spectacular marine garden and coral reefs as home for myriad of shellfish, sponges, crayfish and marine plants.
The Banyuwangi district head affirmed that the island has wide sandy beaches, fabulous underwater life, interesting plants and animals, some of them endangered, and, moreover, has been discovered to be ideal for kite-boarding.
"If the island of Tabuhan become the world's kite surfing destination, the economic activities will be boosted as the glowing surf market is now growing rapidly. In addition, the local community can conduct productive economic activities such as souvenir, culinary, travel services and other supporting services," Anas said.
In the meantime, International Kite and Wind Surfing Competition organizer Iwan Syahlani said the Tabuhan Island is perfect for kite and wind surfing because the waves are not so big.
"Tabuhan Island is indeed one of the most ideal spots for kite boarding in Southeast Asia because of the constant wind speed over the island that remains between 20-25 knots," Syahlani remarked.
He said this was also the reason why this island in Banyuwangi is selected as site of the International Kite and Wind Surfing Competition 2017.
Seeing that Banyuwangi is known to have many tourist attractions, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has challenged the district to become a leading tourism destination in East Java.
The challenge of the tourism minister is quite reasonable, as the district is known for its natural beauty, coupled with a variety of culinary and cultural attractions.
During a working visit last June to open direct flights on the Jakarta-Banyuwangi route and to inaugurate the four-star El Royale Hotel, Yahya said Banyuwangi should be a leading tourism destination, with a target of attracting 100 thousand foreign tourists by 2019.
"Tourism is the fastest way to turn the economy. There have been many theories, and the evidence also exists. Now, we are promoting tourism, and next month, tourists will certainly come," the tourism minister noted.
With direct flights from Jakarta to Banyuwangi and the four-star El Royale Hotel being opened, Yahya expressed hope that more local and foreign tourists will visit Banyuwangi.
Hence, the Banyuwangi district head said he positively welcomed the challenge of the tourism minister to make the district a leading tourism area.
Anas explained that several tourism development steps are currently underway, including the construction of a marina that can accommodate 40 yachts, restaurants and eco parks, and boat yards.
"We will continue to develop the tourism supporting facilities. For instance, now, we have 3,571 hotels in Banyuwangi, including the four-star El Royale Hotel. Next year, we will construct one other four-star hotel, one three-star hotel, and one based on a resort concept," Anas remarked.
The Banyuwangi district head explained to Tourism Minister Afrief Yahya that a number of steps to develop tourism is underway, including the plan to build a sky-way cable car in the area of Ijen Crater.
Kawah Ijen is a tourist attraction in Banyuwangi, which is already widely known by local and foreign tourists because of its stunning natural beauty.
Every day Ijen Crater area is never empty of visitors. On a typical day the number of visitors can be hundreds of people, and on weekends and holidays it can reach thousands of people.
Along with the increasing popularity of Ijen Crater, the number of visitors, both local and foreign tourists, continues to increase every year. (*)
Editor: Vicha Faradika