When mentioning the name Wakatobi, the imagination coming to mind is the beautiful water along the very impressive coral reef. It’s really fascinating. Wakatobi is managed professionally since it has been transformed into a world class region. On the other hand, the infrastructure, especially the transportation, remains inadequate with the predicate as the world triangle coral reef and the marine paradise region of Indonesia
For spending holidays to Wakatobi, travelers from various cities can reach the destination by air or sea. The route by air is Makassar-Bau Bau-Wakatobi. Alternatively, it can also be reached through the Denpasar-Tomia route because it has an air strip that can accommodate light aircraft. This line is owned by the Wakatobi Dive Resort operating a cottage on the Onemooba Tomia Island, a small island near Tomia. Within the past ten years, the island has become the paradise for diver destination. Meanwhile, the sea route can be taken through Kendari by using motor boat to Wanci, the capital of Wakatobi (Wangiwangi Island) with a travel time of nearly nine hours.
The development of Wakatobi as a destination for divers is inseparable from the role of a Swiss businessman, Lorenz Mader. He has invested his capital to build up the area. Onemooba Island, a small island in Tomia, is rented from the government for a period of 30 years. As an entrepreneur, Lorenz also promotes the destination to various tourism promotion events in the world such as the marine tourism promotion in Orlando, the USA, with the conservation materials of Onemooba Island. “Different types of fish can be found here by snorkelers and divers of the world,” said the Regent of Wakatobi Hugua in his note.
On the other hand, a majority of local residents make their livelihood as fish-looking fishermen. Previously, some fishermen were catching fish by damaging the environment including by the use of fish bombs. It certainly damaged the coral reefs that should be protected and preserved. To maintain the harmony between the interests of ecotourism and fishing, the government teamed up with the Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program (COREMAP), an international institution making cooperation with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (KKP). “They work for the conservation of coral reefs as well as help introduce the eco-friendly technology in the management of marine resources to reduce the ecological damages,” added Hugua.
For equitable distribution of tourism development on the other islands (Wangiwangi Island), the Regent Hugua also opened access to make Matahora airport near Wanci town as a regular flight path of Denpasar-Manado-Makassar to Wakatobi. Since this access was established, tens of thousands of tourists have visited the islands in the Wakatobi County offering magnificent white sandy beach. Some tourist resorts have also been established in Kaledupa subdistrict.
Administratively, Wakatobi region is 10 years old. Wakatobi has just been known since the French investor invested in Tomia Island in 2007. The population is only 121,000 people and the regional budget reaches IDR 400 billion per year. “With all the shortcomings, we encourage the development by making air stripe so that we can boost the economic growth, especially for the coastal communities,” said the Regional Secretary of Wakatobi County, Hardi Laomo, on receiving the PIP entourage of the Badung County led by the Assistant III to Regional Secretary of the Badung County, Oka Darmawan.
“When compared to the Badung County in terms of the revenue, the Wakatobi tourism sector is still far away but I do hope the presence of the Badung County government can make a cooperation in the future by promoting the Wakatobi as the Beyond of Badung,” hoped Hardi Laomo.
Meanwhile, Oka Darmawan delivered high appreciation to the Wakatobi County government for its willingness to receive the entourage and even praised the commitment of the Wakatobi community for its great role in preserving the marine environment. “We can take this as a lesson from Wakatobi community,” he said when the entourage visited the Bajo Settlements, at Bajo Indah village. (BTN/014)