Jakarta. Nearly 25 yachts from around the world are currently participating in the 2017 Wonderful Sail Natuna event, which started on June 6 in Riau's Anambas Islands and will conclude on Thursday (15/06) in the Natuna Islands.
The event is expected to bring as many as 150 foreign tourists to Natuna, Riau Islands.
Esthy Reko Astuti, the Ministry of Tourism's deputy for marketing development, said the government has partnered with the organization behind a similar boating event, called the "Sail Malaysia Passage to the East," to help facilitate this year's Wonderful Sail Natuna.
"This is Wonderful Sail's third consecutive year, and we have been working with the Natuna Islands district administration to promote the region as a global sailing destination and to encourage increased maritime developments," Esthy said in Jakarta on Sunday.
Erson Gempa Afriandi, head of Natuna's tourism agency, said the dozens of yachts docking in the islands have sailed from the event's starting point on Bawah Island in the Anambas Islands in Riau.
"On June 13, most yachters arrived in Natuna, and we welcomed them to a gala dinner where we introduced all our district's tourism potentials," Erson said.
Local elementary school students, the agency head said, had a starring role in that presentation.
Erson added that the yachters, originating from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, will be lavished with private diving, snorkeling and spearfishing sessions before reaching Tanjung Beach.
"It is our hope that the Wonderful Sail to Natuna 2017, aside from promoting the maritime potentials of the district, will provide a direct economic impact to locals and illustrate to our younger generations the potentials of Indonesia's maritime tourism sector," he said.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya also praised the event, saying that the yachters are "guaranteed to be interested in the natural beauty and maritime potentials of the Natuna and Anambas Islands."
The Tourism Ministry has been ramping up efforts to compete with Singapore, which is visited by 4,000 yachts each year.
"If they come to love Indonesia, they will stay for longer. We have world-class maritime tourism facilities [...] we have been ranked among the best," Arief said.