Tourists Restriction, an Irony in Manado North Sulawesi

Everybody knows that Indonesia comprises of 17 thousand islands. Therefore it is common knowledge that this country has magnificent beach and natural landscapes. Other than that, we were taught in elementary school that Indonesia’s geographical coordinate is very strategic. Unfortunately, these given facts are not lessening the hardship of government’s effort to increase the number of tourists coming to Indonesia. Surely, it needs holistic approach to cater the problem. The government needs to fulfill tourist’s needs from the basic like accommodation, transportation, access, to secondary needs such as hospitality, wi-fi, cleanliness, and other services.

I believe that every region, especially with great tourism potential has to obtain clear planning about their tourism attractions. Sadly, not many of the district head realize and understand how to develop tourism sites. I just got back from Manado, North Sulawesi. It is a province with long coastline. I’d like to share an irony in this beautiful city.

I stayed in a hotel around Tongkaina with fellow journalists. We had a mission to promote the region’s marine tourism. The organizer chose the hotel because it’s close to Bunaken Marine Park. This marine park surrounded by Bunaken Island, Manado Tua Island and Siladen Island.

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When we arrived at the snorkeling spot, the tour guide told us that the number of goggles isn’t equal to the number of passengers in the boat. Therefore, we have to wear it alternately. Ok this is weird. Why didn’t they inform us prior departing to the marine park and why didn’t they count us beforehand so they could separate us into different boats?

Secondly, the water wasn’t as clear as crystal. Although the fishes and coral reefs were astounding, we couldn’t deny the fact that in some part, there are many plastics of snacks, bottles, etc. Why is it dirty?

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Surrounded by plastics and other types of garbage 😦
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So happy to finally found clear snorkeling spot!

If the government serious enough to manage the tourism site, they should have regular cleaning or other means to clear the area. Why didn’t they pick the best site for us snorkeling without making us feeling disgusted over the water?

Credit: @dharma_bungalan

When I arrived at Bunaken Island, I was startled witnessing the condition of souvenir stalls. It was far from decent and too traditional. The government needs more effort to empower the merchants and improve the condition of the kiosks.

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Welcome to Bunaken
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Traditional kiosks in Bunaken, made of woods and boards
Souvenir stalls in Bunaken

From this experience, I would like to recommend 3 points to the local government: train the locals to give better service for the tourists, provide more options of water sport other than snorkeling, and repair the souvenir stalls.

After Bunaken, we continue to Siladen Island. It was pretty nice to chill in the island. Moreover we were entertained by beautiful voice by a vocal group that sang traditional song there.

I wonder why there weren’t many tourists in the tourism spots that we visited. The Head of Development Planning Agency at Sub-National Level in North Sulawesi Ricky Toemandoek said that, Governor Olly Dondokambey released a policy to restrict international tourists because they’re lacking of immigration officials to handle them.

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Sam Ratulangi airport

Other than that, the airport apron isn’t sufficient for all the airplanes. So, number of tourist that could enter North Sulawesi narrowed down to 100.000 people per month. It is also related to the number of rooms available is only 7000 units. It is an irony noting that the Ministry of Tourism now setting an ambitious target to reach 17 million tourists in 2018.

We should have better roadmap for tourism unless the mesmerizing fact about Indonesia’s great landscapes would just be a fact without avail.