Jakarta. The Wonderful Lembeh Strait Festival, or FPSL, is taking place in Bitung, North Sulawesi, on Oct. 6-10.
"This event aims to show the maritime potential of the Lembeh Strait, which is 7,5 kilometers long. Through the FPSL, we expect marine tourism to attract more foreign tourists," Bitung Mayor Maximilian Jonas Lomban said during the opening of the festival.
"We thank the Ministry of Tourism and the Navy, which have given us more than 1,000 percent support for this event. This collaboration provides safety and comfort for tourists who come to Bitung," Maximilian said.
More than 1,200 decorated ships, consisting of merchant and fishing vessels, will participate in a parade during the festival, which is held to commemorate the 27th anniversary of Bitung.
"The Lembeh Strait is one of the best diving spots in the world, which must be used by the Bitung city administration to develop marine tourism, which will in turn improve the regional economy," said Esthy Reko Astuti, deputy for tourism development at the ministry.
The festival features, among others, a 10-kilometer run, art and cultural performances, underwater and landscape photography competitions, a culinary exhibition, the decorated ship parade, a yacht parade and a swimming competition in the Lembeh Strait.
Esthy expressed hope that the festival will be an effective way to introduce the wonders of Bitung to people across Indonesia and to tourism stakeholders to increase tourism to the province.
The Tourism Ministry has declared Bitung a special economic region and an international sea port hub due to the city's location on the Pacific Rim.
North Sulawesi received 1.8 million domestic and 30,000 foreign tourists last year, with 13,019 domestic and 20,133 foreign tourists having visited Bitung.