Larantuka, Flores. Tour de Flores, the annual cycling race in East Nusa Tenggara, helps to accelerate infrastructure development in the province and it is also expected to benefit the local economy and the tourism industry on the long term, officials said.
The second edition of the race takes place in several stages over a total distance of 760.8 kilometers between Larantuka in the east and Labuan Bajo in the west of Flores Island.
"Many road sections on the island have been fixed for the Tour de Flores, because we want the riders to compete on the best roads possible," Tour de Flores chairman Primus Dorimulu said during the opening ceremony on Thursday (13/07).
Primus said a section of road near Mbay, the capital of Nagekeo district in central Flores, had been in a poor condition for several years.
The Ministry of Public Works and Housing earlier froze the funding allocated to the repairs due to corruption.
But after the event organizers requested the inclusion of that road section in this year's race, the ministry resolved the matter and made Rp 33 billion ($2.47 million) available for the repairs, Primus said.
"In 2016, the ministry also spent Rp 100 billion on Flores roads. So, the impact of the Tour de Flores is very real," he added.
East Nusa Tenggara Governor Frans Lebu Raya said the race has also had an impact on tourist arrivals in the province.
More than 832,000 Indonesians visited the province last year, compared with 441,000 the year before. Foreign tourist arrivals also doubled to 140,000 from a year earlier.
"In five or 10 years, Flores will be a coveted destination for global tourist. So, let's not worry too much about the money we spend this year," Frans said.
The Tour de Flores costs the seven participating districts on the island about Rp 1 billion each to provide accommodation and transportation for the race participants, officials and media representatives, Primus said.
The provincial government also set aside about Rp 4 billion for the event, with the central government, through the Public Works Ministry and the Tourism Ministry, providing support in terms of infrastructure and marketing.
The growing tourist numbers will eventually increase demand for hotels, transportation and goods, so residents must be ready to provide this, Primus said.
The East Flores local government wasted no time to follow his advice. During the event's opening ceremony, it introduced a new product, Rumadu Forest Honey.