Indonesia in Focus
Tojo Una-Una Relies on Togean Islands: Central Sulawesi
Strategically located in the heart of Tomini Bay, Tojo Una-Una regency in Central Sulawesi is rich in marine and tourism potential. In this regency, which was first established on Dec. 18, 2003, one can find at least 56 large and small islands known as the Togean Islands, which stretch for some 90 kilometers.
“We are not getting carried away. We will just focus our programs on developing our maritime and tourism potential. We believe we can progress and prosper with them,” said in Ampana, the regency capital.
The regency, which has an area of some 5,726 square kilometers and is located around 350 km east of the Central Sulawesi capital, Palu, is home to some 100,000 residents.
Damsik said the marine and tourism potential was mostly found in the Togean Islands, resulting in the regency administration placing great hope in the islands to boost the local economy.
He said the Togean Islands were much more beautiful than Bunaken in North Sulawesi.
“It’s only that we face a promotion problem. Bunaken is one step ahead in terms of promotion, making it popular both at home and overseas,” Damsik.
He said that based on the latest research, there are at least 596 reef fish species in the waters around the Togean Islands, including two endemic fish species (Paracheilinus togeanensis and Ecsenius).
Damsik said the Togean Islands were also home to pristine coral reefs.
According to Conservation Indonesia data, the islands provide a home to 262 coral species, including the endemic Acropora togeanensis.
Of 91 types of Acropora found in Indonesian waters, 78 of them are found in the Togean Islands.
“The potential is amazing. So it should come as no surprise that Gorontolo province is claiming Tomini Bay as part of the province. However, the bay belongs to us in Tojo Una-Una,” Damsik said.
With its marine potential, the Togean Islands have become a must-see tourism attraction. So far, most foreign visitors come from the European countries.
According Arianto Dar of the Tojo Una-Una Tourism and Culture Agency, some eight thousand foreign tourists used to visit the area every year. On monthly basis, some 665 foreign tourists used to visit the Togean Islands.
“The tourists came for various reasons, from vacationing to research,” Arianto said.
The number of visitors, however, has declined since the sectarian conflict broke out in Poso back in 2000.
The conflict not only affected Poso, but also reduced the number of visitors to the Togean Islands. These days, only 100 to 200 foreign tourists visit the area every month.
“The drop in the number of visitors has been very sharp. The decline has resulted in lower revenues for the regency administration,” Arianto said.
However, the Tourism Agency was unable to give any details on how much revenue was generated by foreign tourists. Most tourists were brought there by foreign-owned travel agencies with offices in Gorontalo.
According to Jemmy Prantigo, a member of Tojo Una-Una Legislative Council’s finance commission, the regency’s annual revenues amounted to Rp 5 billion, most of which came from tourism and maritime resources.
“The amount is very small as the management of the revenue sources, such as the marine and tourism business, is not as good as it could be,” Jemmy said.
“Our revenues should amount to more than Rp 5 billion. I don’t understand why the amount is so small.”
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