World natural heritage status being sought for Bunaken

North Sulawesi`s `Bunaken` National Marine Park in Manado waters where the `Sail Bunaken` festival is being held with hundreds of yachts and warships from many countries taking part, is being proposed for recognition as a World Natural Heritage.

“Many countries have suggested that we propose the inclusion of the Bunaken National Marine Park (TNL) in the World Natural Heritage list.

 Indonesia has submitted its proposal and is doing its best to have the park with its uniqueness recognized as one of the world natural heritages,” Director General of Maritime and Fisheries Supervision affairs Aji Sularso said.

Bunaken National Marine ParkOne of the world bodies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has made an observation of the Bunaken National Marine Park. It seems that UNESCO is interested in the park`s beautiful marine biota that could justify its recognition as a world heritage.

The on-going `Sail Bunaken` event, where tens of warships and over 160 yachts from many countries are expected to take part, is a momentum for North Sulawesi to promote the Bunaken park`s beauty to the international community.

Bunaken is one of Indonesia`s marine parks which hosts marine beauty that could not be found in other countries as it is rich in beautiful marine biota and colorful coral reefs.

The North Sulawesi regional government is also building supporting infrastructure facilities for the Bunaken marine park so that it could qualify as a world natural heritage.

As part of the efforts to attract world attention, the North Sulawesi regional government is now organizing the `Sail Bunaken` festival in the national marine park which will last from August 12 to 20, 2009.

Until Thursday, a total of 75 yachts and six warships from a number of countries have arrived at Bitung port, North Sulawesi to take part in Sail Bunaken.

“At present six warships from four countries have anchored at Bitung port. They will take part in the Sail Bunaken contest,” Bitung city spokesman Erwin Kountu said. Of the six warships, two are from Thailand (Phuttaoetia Naphalai FF 461 – Rattanakosin FS 441), two from Malaysia (KD Kedah 171 and KD Tunas Samudera), one from the Philippines (Manuel L Quezon PS 70) and one from Britain (HMS Echo H87).

The Sail Bunaken activities would be participated in by 28 warships from 14 countries, 163 yachts from 25 nations and a number of Indonesian warships.

About 19 Indonesian warships have berthed at Bitung port, among others KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda, KRI Surabaya, KRI Fatahilah, KRI Arung Samudera and KRI Patola. “It is expected that about 163 yachts from various countries will take part in the Sail Bunaken activities,” the regional government spokesman said.

According to Director General of Maritime and Fisheries Supervision affairs Aji Sularso, the Sail Bunaken festival is the world`s biggest maritime event because it is attended by tens of countries which have sent warships and yachts, a senior official said.

“Sail Bunaken is a momentum for Indonesia to improve its image because Manado being successful in organizing the world`s biggest maritime event,” he said in Manado on Thursday.

He said Sail Bunaken which would present sailing and flying pass activities of various warships and fighter planes was a rare world event. Besides, the event`s big maritime and bio-diversity potentials could be converted for the people`s economic activities.

North Sulawesi Governor SH Sarundajang, said the on-going Sail Bunaken festival was expected to improve the tourism industry. He said the world`s maritime event would have a positive impact on the province`s economic development, especially in the tourism sector.

“Sail Bunaken is expected to have a positive impact on the development of the tourism sector in North Sulawesi,” he said.

According to the governor, development of the tourism sector in an area would overcome the economic crisis there. “The tourism sector is very important and if it continues to develop well, it will overcome crises of any kind,” Sarundajang said.

After all, there is also a yacht rally held along with the sail Bunaken activities, which is expected to contribute about Rp27.72 billion to the incomes of 14 districts in the province.

“The yachts will sail around 14 districts for four months, with an average length of stoppage of four days in each of the districts,” Aji Sularso said.

He said that each of the crew (estimated 500 person) is expected to spend US$ 100 per day. This excludes the spending of about 7,000 warship crew members.

The director general said that up to now 75 participants of the yacht rally had arrived. The other participants are still on the way. There are two entry gates for this year`s yacht rally, namely Darwin in Australia and Kinabalu in Malaysia.

Those sailing from the Darwin gate will pass Saum Laki, Ambon, Ternate and Bitung while yachts sailing from the Kinablu gate will pass through Tarakan before entering the Bitung port.

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