Panoramic view of Raja Ampat Islands. - Antara / Ernest Broning Kakisina

Raja Ampat’s government says to expel tourist ships for destroying coral reefs

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Panoramic view of Raja Ampat Islands. – Antara / Ernest Broning Kakisina

Waisai, Jubi – The Government of Raja Ampat Regency would drive out tourist ships for not complying local shipping regulations. The Regional Secretary Yusuf Salim affirmed the government’s policy is to address the environmental effects caused by tourist boats that often hit and damage coral reefs.

“This policy is to protect the natural reserve of Raja Ampat. Many operating boats do not pay attention to the rules that destroy the coral reefs,” said Yusuf in a meeting with tourism administrators on Thursday (09/01/2020).

He emphasised that the local government would not tolerate those who cause environmental destruction. Their licence would immediately revoke and no longer allowed to operate in Raja Ampat.

“All tourist ships must obey the rule if they want to continue operating in Raja Ampat. Such particular cruise ships must report their arrival to the regional government and follow relevant local regulations,” said Yusuf in a meeting chaired by Regent Abdul Faris Umlati.

To prevent coral reefs from damage and destruction, managers of tourist ships required to involve certified local guides. If not, they are not allowed to enter and operate in Raja Ampat.

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“It is for ensuring the convenience (and safety) during the tour. The coral reefs’ damages also can be avoided (prevented),” said the Head of Raja Ampat Tourism Office Yusdi Lamatenggo on the same occasion.

Further, Yusdi hopes that tourism operators and local people would report to the Tourism Office if they find any tourism services to not involving certified local guides. His office is ready for taking action on those who violate the rules.

Earlier, Lamima Surabaya, an Indonesian-flagged cruise ship, reportedly hit a coral reef surround Misool Island of Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua Province. Meanwhile, several Indonesian cruise ships carrying foreign tourists travelling in Misool Island also suspected of not paying tolls to the regional tourism office for entering local tourist destinations.

The Sub-district chief of Misool Selatan Samsul Rumasukun when contacted from Sorong on Tuesday (7/1/2020) confirmed that Lamima Surabaya was transporting foreign tourists before ran aground on the coral reefs surround Banos and Lenmakana waters in Misool Island on 3 January 2020. But the case was not widely known to the public.

He said the ship had continued its tour, but the incident already tackled by the Raja Ampat Police.

Meanwhile, Adrianus Kaiba, the Head of the Regional Public Service Agency for the Tourism Destination of Regional Tourism Office, separately said that every tourist visit Raja Ampat oblige to pay entrance fees in tourist destinations.

According to him, Lamima Surabaya cruise ship, which reportedly ran aground in the tourist destinations between the islands of Banos and Lemakana Misool, has so far not paid entrance fees to the regional tourism office.

At the end of December 2019, the Provincial Government of West Papua appealed for yachts entering its sea territories to involve local tour guides. This appeal issued following the incident of the cruise ship Aqua Blu landed on the coral reefs of Wayag Island.

The Head of Provincial Tourism and Culture Yusak Wabia in Manokwari on Monday (30/12/2019) stated the importance of using local guide services to avoid accidents such as crashing into coral reefs.

He said the local guides were more aware of the geographical condition of their territory, so it would prevent accidents. “Only local people know for certain the geographical conditions and the weather of their sea. They also maintain the coral reefs which are the source of their livelihood,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Indonesian Tour Guide Association (HPI) in Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua Province, Ranny Iriani Tumundo, regretted the incident of Aqua Blu cruise ship crashing on the coral reefs of Wayag Island.

She conveyed that according to the regulations, each cruise ship sailing around the sea of Raja Ampat oblige to notify the local government and meet the administrative requirement before visiting tourist destinations. Also, they require to pay retribution fee for entrance to the local government through the Office of Investment and Integrated Business Services.

“If a cruise ship has done it, then it is legal to travel in Raja Ampat. Also, the cruise ships must obey the shipping lane and involve local people as tour guides to avoid unexpected incidents happen, such as crashing into a coral reef,” she said. (*)

 

Reporter: ANTARA

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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