Balidiscovery.com recently published an editorial emphasizing the need for the government of Indonesia to adopt a more serious-minded approach to developing cruise tourism by appointing a national cruise ombudsman to oversee much needed coordination to overcome the many bureaucratic barriers to inter-island cruising.
Echoing that report, bisnis.com this past week carried comments from the Chairman of the Indonesian Sea Lovers Foundation (YCBI) calling for the establishment of a national committee to coordinate "Sail Indonesia 2009."
"Sail Indonesia" is an international sailing regatta that passes through the archipelago on a route from Darwin, Australia to Belitung, Indonesia. The most recent "Sail Indonesia 2008" saw 105 of the 121 participating private yachts encounter much-publicized threats of temporary seizure by customs officials who demanded duty bonds of between 5-10% of the ships' value be paid. Race participants questioned this new regulation from the Indonesian Department of Customs and Excise, citing that all the yachts would spend only three months in Indonesia.
Only the intervention of a senior government official, who provided a personal guarantee to customs officials, finally permitted the seized vessel to be released and continue their passage through Indonesia.
Organizers of "Sail Indonesia" point to the substantial foreign exchange spent by visiting yachtsmen in remote areas of Indonesia as warranting government support for the event. The 2008 regatta held from July to October 2008 saw 121 boats visit 17 provinces, 25 regions and 4 municipalities.
The organizers of "Sail Indonesia" offer two route alternatives to visiting yachts. One route travels from Darwin-Kupang-Alor-Lembata-Maumere-Ende-Riung, Labuan Bajo-Mataram. Makasar-Lovina Bali-Karimun Jawa-Kumai and ends in Belitung. Another route sails from Darwin-Saumlaki-Tual-Banda-Ambon-Ternate-Manado-Donggala-Mamuju-Pare pare-Makassar-Kumai before ending in Belitung.
The YCBI Chairman, Raymond T. Lesmana told Bisnis.com that the creation of a national committee is important to the smooth operation of the international sailing event. Lesmana explained, "the relevant Indonesian government agencies and the YCBI can create a solid team to ensure that this event (Sail Indonesia 2009) can be carried out in a coordinated manner."
Lesmana warned: "If the government fails to create a national committee (for 'Sail Indonesia') next year's regatta will be threatened by the arrogance of certain parties working to destroy this event. This is happening at the same time when Malaysia, inspired by the example of the Indonesia event, has created its own 'Sail Malaysia.'
With 230 yachts registered to join "Sail Indonesia 2009" Lesmana posed that if all the interested parties placed national interests before all else, the yearly regatta presents almost limitless potential as a contributor to Indonesian tourism.
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