Jakarta. The government opened the new Matahora Airport in Wakatobi, a national park in Southeast Sulawesi famous for its underwater attractions, in a move to boost tourism which has been one of President Joko Widodo’s priority agenda.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan said the Matohara Airport is capable of serving almost all types of commercial flights, with the intention of attracting more tourists to the area.
The new airport is also expected to put Wakatobi's name in the list of Indonesia's top tourist attractions, especially for underwater tourism.
“Many airports in regional areas are still sub-standard. But it actually doesn’t take a lot of time to build a new one,” Jonan told reporters in Wangi Wangi, Southeast Sulawesi, on Sunday (08/05).
The minister said the Matohara Airport has a 2,000-meter runway, took only one year to build and cost Rp 19 billion ($1.4 million) taken from the 2015 state budget.
Also present at the opening ceremony were Tourism Minister Arief Yahya, lawmaker Fary Djemy Francis and South Sulawesi administration's secretary Lukman Abunawas.
Wakatobi started gaining popularity among domestic and international tourists after former district head Hugua started spending more on the island district's promotional budget. It is now often named as one of the most beautiful diving and snorkeling spots in the world.
Writing by Edo Karensa