Yacht-based tourism provides a ready source of potential foreign exchange earnings for Indonesia, a country comprised of 17,508 islands.
Raymond T. Lesmana, the Chairman of the Cinta Bahari Indonesia Foundation estimates that each year some 2,000 sailing yachts sail pass Indonesian water without bothering to visit a single port. Speaking to the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, Lesmana said: "In fact, a single sailing yacht with three crew can spend as much as Rp. 17.5 million (approximately US$1,920) each week. This is just for food, drink, shopping and does not include berthing fees."
Pointing to the growing number of pensioners who spend their time sailing the world, Lesmana said that the 50 yachts calling on Langkawai in Malaysia spend an estimated Rp. 37.5 million (approximately US$4,120) each week , not including charges for water, electricity, permits, boat services and other purchases.
Lesmana, who heads a foundation dedicated to promoting a love of the sea, said that if the Government is serious in increasing foreign exchange earned from tourism it needs to clarify its policies on tourism investment. He complained that sea tourism was still viewed by the Government as a niche market, not worthy of high priority in developing national tourism.
Lesmana said that the Indonesia's waters offer the widest and most beautiful single area in the world for yachting, but fails to get its fair share of the market due to a lack of promotion and international standard marina facilities. He also pointed out that the large size of Indonesian territory in combination with an average speed of only 5 knots for a sailing yacht means a minimum of one year's visa is needed to sail through the archipelago. This is in stark contrast to the current three month clearance granted to yachts wishing to visit the Country.
Fruther complicated by the current limitation of 30 days for a visa-on-arrival, Lesmana also called for a new one-stop-service approach to issuing sailing permits, combining under a single roof the current plethora of permissions required from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate of Sea Communications, the National Police and State Intelligence Board.
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