The Jakarta city administration said Monday the government would assist in developing marine tourism in the Thousand Islands regency to help boost the local economy.
Arie Budhiman, head of the Jakarta tourism agency, said the government would prioritize future development programs requested by the regency.
"No specific budget figures have been mentioned yet, but the government will encourage the local administration to propose programs. Then both bodies will set up the roadmap and action plan," Arie said.
Edy Putra Irawady, deputy coordinator of industry and trade at the office of the coordinating minister of the economy, said the Thousand Islands had the potential to become the center of marine tourism in Indonesia.
He said the regency's 108 islands could be sorted by economic potential into eight different groups. These include their suitability for entertainment, nature conservation and housing and commerce.
"The Thousand Islands can also be developed along the lines of food production, education and vocational training, shopping centers and exhibitions, sports events and entry points with immigration facilities, customs and a port," Edy said.
He said his office would provide a forum for island regencies throughout Indonesia, including the Thousand Islands, to consult and share experiences in developing their respective marine potentials.
He added the forum would consist of regencies with marine tourism potential, such as Raja Ampat in West Papua, Benoa in Bali, Bangka Belitung, Natuna and Sabang in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Nias in North Sumatra, Batam, Bintan and Karimun in Riau and Bunaken and Wakatobi in Sulawesi.
Edy said the government and the administration would streamline regulations and reduce bureaucracy to support the development program, as well as set a pollution prevention agenda.
On the tourism development front, Arie said the Thousand Islands regency needed to take concrete steps to attract more visitors.
He said a major concern was the heavily polluted Jakarta bay, currently the main gateway to the regency.
He said his administration would coordinate with the Banten and West Java administrations to raise public awareness of the pollution problem.
Jakarta's 13 rivers all empty out into the bay, bringing tons of household, commercial and industrial waste every day.
Arie added infrastructure, accessibility and weather conditions also limited tourism development in the area.
"Tax returns from hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues in the Thousand Islands have been below expectation for the past couple of years because of all these factors," he said.
"Hopefully this new program will help boost the economy, and hence the tax returns, in the area."
Deputy Regent Andit Rachman had earlier pledged to review data on island ownership and permits on land usage in the regency to help boost the development of tourism there.