Sabang has become a favorite place for marine tourism lovers for performing various activities, such as diving, snorkeling, fishing, sun-bathing, and visiting interesting spots.
Weh Island is very exotic and romantic, as it is surrounded by a number of small islets. Besides, its strategic location, Weh Island, located between the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Strait, is easily accessible by both domestic and foreign tourists.
Therefore, many parties have called for making Sabang a tourism icon of Aceh Province, and even of the country.
Sail Sabang, held from Nov 28 to Dec 5, 2017, is expected to help materialize a dream of turning Sabang into a world-class yacht destination.
The peak event of Sail Sabang was inaugurated by Vice President M Jusuf Kalla in Sabang on Dec 2, 2017.
Kalla has reminded inhabitants of Weh Island in Aceh Province that friendliness and good services remain key to lure tourists.
He lauded the implementation of Sail Sabang, which focuses on the development of tourist destinations.
Indonesia is blessed with scenic maritime areas, and the government and the Tourism Ministry should promote them, he stated.
"The ministry should spread good information. People must visit the places out of curiosity and not just to enjoy the beaches," he remarked.
Sail Sabang should serve as a proof of the government's commitment towards tourism development, in addition to trade, he added.
China, India, and South Korea, with large populations and a growing economy, are potential markets for Indonesia's tourism, he noted.
Among those present at the inauguration of Sail Sabang were Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti.
Sail Sabang is followed by 13 Indonesian warships, a research ship "Baruna Jaya" owned by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, 20 thousand visitors, three thousand foreign tourists, and local residents.
Themed "Toward Sabang as the Gate of Global Tourist Destination," Sail Sabang is enlivened by art carnivals, maritime exhibitions, free diving competitions, casual bike events, social service blog contests, science and technology jamboree and seminars, mass dances, parachuting, and a parade of warships.
KRI Dewa Ruci and KRI Bima Suci also participate in Sail Sabang, the ninth edition of Sail Indonesia, an international maritime event held annually by the Indonesian Government.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya, in his remarks, urged the Sabang city government to provide optimal services to tourists visiting the region.
"The service should be improved, so that the tourists visiting Sabang will have the best possible experience," the minister revealed.
Mayor of Sabang, Nazaruddin, is optimistic that the event would help promote the country's marine tourism internationally.
In future, the Sabang administration will organize various events to attract tourists to visit Sabang, he promised.
The mayor expressed gratitude to President Joko Widodo and the relevant ministries for promoting Weh Island to tourists.
"Infrastructure in Sabang is not adequate. We will strive to improve it and fully support the program of Widodo and the ministries to improve the economy for the public," he stated.
About 1,220 hotel rooms in Sabang have already been fully booked by guests. Therefore, the organizing committee has also offered homestays and rooms for visitors.
Many yachts from various countries will visit Sabang annually.
In April last year, Sabang Marine Festival (SMF) was organized and was attended by Paul Von Wiese, captain of Calypso yacht.
He was impressed by the performance of Sabang officers manning the One Stop Service office at the CT3 BPKS pier for completing the yacht checking process within a matter of minutes.
Sabang officers broke the fastest checking record, compared to the other Indonesian regions, where it could take up to five days, according to Paul who had come with his wife, Mauren Von Wiese, to Aceh for the festival.
The Widodo administration has identified marine tourism as being overlooked despite having a huge potential.
According to Yahya, Indonesia is hoping to have eight thousand yachts near its shores by 2019, including foreign yachts. In 2018, at least four thousand yachts are expected to visit Indonesia.
For that purpose, the government has simplified procedures of permit application for yachts to visit Indonesia. ***1***
EDITED BY INE