“We don’t want our clients to fly over ten hours from Europe just for a two-day visit to Komodo, said Heinz Hirter, European Tour Operator on a familiarization trip (fam trip) to Flores, as he captured the warm hospitality of the people at the traditional village of Belaraghi on Flores island. “Komodo is surely spectacular, but they [their clients] also need other attractions,” he continued.
Heinz Hirter and 10 other operators from Europe and America were in Flores last October in search of new destinations and tourist attractions.
“Kelimutu and Komodo are the highlights of Flores for the time being, but out there are still a lot of attractions that can be introduced to tourists, which can also help raise the welfare of the people of Flores through tourism,” said Ruedi Nuetzi, Asia’s Program Director of Swisscontact, who invited 10 leading tour operators from Europe and 5 from Indonesia to join the fam trip he initiated to find new attractions.
There are a lot of attractions that deserve to be introduced to the world in order to reduce the burden on the Komodo National Park, which has risen rapidly in popularity but has also become physically threatened by the sudden increase of visitors, said Nuetzi as the group on tour met the heads of each district Tourist Office.
A number of accommodations in Maumere, Moni, Ende, Bajawa, and Ruteng are really liked by tour operators, who agreed that their clients will enjoy staying at clean, well maintained, and friendly hotels and guesthouses. “Clean bathrooms, fans or air conditioners, warm and friendly staff – that will be enough. Add Wi-fi availability – that would be perfect,” said John Hessing, Dutch Tour Operator who specializes his tour packages for those with hearing disabilities.
“We have been sending guests to Indonesia on a regular basis. The package I prepared attracted much attention. I prepared for my clients to stay 22 days in Flores, and I’m convinced that this tour package is very interesting,” said Ruud Jansen, Travel Consultant for a tour operator in the Netherlands.
“The scenery here is spectacular! This is what we need to compose a tour package. Kids and everyone here are always waving and smile joyfully to greet visitors,” said James Jeske, Tour Operator from the USA.
Although some local tourist offices were concerned that their regions would only become a one-day transit place, all tour operators convinced them that this will not be the case.
Most important for their clients is that destinations must keep the authenticity of the attractions, find other highlights in their areas, and inform them about this so tourists can stay much longer. “Instead of staying for just one day, tourists can stay for 10 days if it can be filled with various activities and attractions,” said Hank at the cool town of Ruteng, West Manggarai.
Besides visiting the habitat of the Komodo dragons on the islands of Komodo and Rinca, today the Komodo seas are also already a favorite with world-class divers for the huge variety of fish, giant manta rays, turtles, dolphins, and whales that can be admired in these waters.
A visit to Komodo is made through the town of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores, where new hotels and other tourist facilities have sprung up. There are regular flights daily from Bali to the Komodo Airport on Labuan Bajo.
The island of Flores is well-known for the spectacular three-colored lakes of Mt. Kelimutu, the spiderweb ricefields at Manggarai, Easter celebrations at Larantuka, the prehistoric “hobbit” caves at Liang Bua, megalithic villages, beautiful woven textiles, and a whole lot more.