– Somnath Lamichhane/RSS
Labuan Bajo, Indonesia: Bali undoubtedly tops the list of those willing to visit the Southeast Asian country Indonesia. Among the other tourist attractions in Indonesia, Bali alone beckons millions of foreign tourists since years.
Rich in biodiversity, especially of marine species, Bali stands out among other 17,000 small and big islands that make up the island nation-Indonesia, home to more than 270 million people of over 300 ethnicities.
Among the other tourist destinations in Indonesia, this scribe was impressively lured by the charm and beauty of a tiny island named Labuan Bajo.
Once a small fishing town located at the western end of the large island of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of eastern part of Indonesia, Labuan Bajo is lately leveraging its tourism for not only its development and prosperity but also the Flores at large.
Flores houses around 5 million people (2014 census), with 96 per cent of them being Christian.
Indonesia was colonized by Portuguese, British and French and later by the Dutch until 1949.
Although Indonesia is the country with Muslim dominance, people from every caste, community, religion and race seem to embrace their country and imbibe the spirit of ‘unity in diversity’.
The Indonesian government has lately intensified the tourism promotional activities targeting this most poverty-stricken island in Indonesia.
The island with less soil fertility is characterised by several small islands and limited small settlements is rich in natural beauty.
The Labuan Bajo which is reachable by around a 45-minute flight from the Bali-based Denpasar Airport has a domestic airport which meets the requirements to operate international flights as well. According to the airport office, the airport witnesses the operations of over 20 flights en route to Bali, Surabaya and Jakarta on a daily basis.
Tourists choose to arrive here by the use of cruise service as well. With an encouraging number of tourists arrivals here, hotel, restaurant and resort; and cruise business is significantly booming.
A local tourist guide Rodrigo Gojalec shared that with the rise in tourist arrivals at Labuan Bajo annually, the locals have been securing good income.
Earlier, the people at Labuan Bajo, featuring barren and dry lands to a larger scale, were hardly managing two squares meal a day through fishing. But now they have found relatively better livelihood options in tourism business lately.
Anyone visiting Labuan Bajo can relish sea sighting, sunrise and sunset views, boat riding, seashore excursion, and indigenous and cultural dances. But these are not enough to describe and know about the beautiful island.
The Komodo National Park listed on the World Heritage Site reachable from the Labuan Bajo’s major port by an around four-hour cruise trip is the major attraction here.
The Padar Island, Pink Beach, an amazing view of coral reef, and the Komodo dragon would obviously provide immense pleasure to anyone interested in ecology.
A view of a hill dividing a sea from three sides which can be seen after climbing some 600 steps of the Padar Island and rare reptile Komodo Dragon get featured in the Indonesia’s currency notes.
According to Park’s nature guides, this imposing giant haunts other big and small animals inhabiting the park like cattle, buffalo, deer and even human.
According to them, the reptile is up to four meters. Approximately 500 tourists visit the areas on a daily basis. Preparations were underway to operate international flights from Labuan Bajo within one year, and hotels and restaurants are opening up, said Nikolaus Alexander Priesnitz, General Manager of Ayana Komodo Resort based in Labuan Bajo, expressing the hope that influx of tourists to Flores Island may rise in the coming days.
Adorned with natural beauty, Labuan Bajo and its surrounding areas are visited by tourists from as far as Canada, the United States of America, Australia, South America and Europe. The places see influx of a higher number of domestic tourists.
Approximately 15,000 tourists from Nepal visited Bali each year in the previous years, said Murni Nyaristi, Third Secretary, Head of Information, Social, and Cultural Division, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Dhaka, urging Nepali tourists to visit also Labuan Bajo.