Cyclists from Malaysia and Singapore won the Indonesian leg of international cycling competition Gran Fondo New York. (SP Photo/Joanito de Saojoao)
Tour de Flores Expected to Spearhead Island Tourism
BY :ALEX MADJI
MAY 18, 2016
Larantuka. Residents of Larantuka in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, participated in a folk festival on Wednesday (18/05) to mark the inaugural Tour de Flores 2016, which aims to promote tourism on the island.
The cycling race, which will start in Larantuka on Thursday and finish in Labuan Bajo next Monday, is the first ever international sporting event to take place on Flores Island. The tour will pass through eight of the island's districts, which will also hold tourism events during the race in order to promote their respective attractions.
"This is a historic moment for Flores. [...] It managed to do what was previously thought impossible," Coordinating Maritime and Resource Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli said on the sidelines of the opening ceremony. "I hope all the district heads in Flores capitalize on this event to boost tourism."
The minister noted that tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors, which has the potential to improve the per-capita income of residents in the region.
Tour de Flores 2016 is in line with the government's aspiration to make tourism a leading sector in the country that attracts income from abroad, surpassing the oil and gas, coal and palm oil sectors in the next 10 years.
Indonesia Cycling Federation president Raja Sapta Oktohari also expressed his astonishment of how one of the country's poorest regions managed to host a multi-stage race listed on the Asia tour calendar of the world cycling governing body Union Cycliste Internationale.
"I am the happiest man with the Tour de Flores taking place now. I have new catchphrase to tell other regions: 'If Flores can do it, why can't you?'," Raja Sapta said.
The race will cover a distance of 662 kilometers and total prize money of Rp 1 billion ($75,000) will be awarded to the winner.
Other stage stops include Maumere, Ende and Ruteng.