On a bright morning, Labuan Bajo Airport, East Nusa Tenggara, was crowded with domestic and international tourists looking to spend their weekend away.
Words by Sendy Aditya
The locals, ready to meet their guests, were lining up at the arrival gate, while a few local dancers were putting garlands around the tourists’ necks to welcome them to Labuan Bajo.
The vehicle I was in prepared to leave Labuan Bajo Airport. I still had the garland around my neck as I was planning to leave it on the hull of the boat that would take me around the islands that are famous around the world for their beauty: Komodo Island, Padar Island, Gili Lawa, Pink Beach and others.
It only took 15 minutes from Labuan Bajo Airport to get to the port. Boats of all sizes were docked at every berth on the calm sea. The beauty of Labuan Bajo is not just a rumour, and one can see its many attractions on arrival.
At the docks, where fishermen carry out their daily activities, several boats were awaiting passengers while others were unloading their catch to be sold or brought home. This vibe is unique to Labuan Bajo, the majority of whose residents are fishermen, and indeed makes for a great photographic keepsake.
The roaring engine of the boat could be heard in the background throughout the journey, lulling me to sleep. The boat boasted classy facilities, including an air-conditioned bedroom, food, snorkelling gear, and an endless supply of mineral water and soda. As we arrived at Komodo National Park, we were welcomed by the park’s tough and intrepid rangers.
When exploring the island, we were accompanied by fresh air and beautiful yet quiet nature. Plants were everywhere, moving quietly as they welcomed passers-by. A large species of lizard with the Latin name Varanus komodoensis was fast asleep in the shade of the trees.
After lunch, I continued my journey to Pink Beach, which is famous for its red sand. There are only seven pink-sand beaches in the world, including the one on Komodo Island. The red colour of the sand comes from the flakes of red coral brought to the shore by the waves.
It would be a travesty to visit Pink Beach without sparing some time to snorkel, or play on the sand. A little later, I continued the journey to Gili Lawa, where we hiked to Puncak Lawa to enjoy the best view of the island. After an hour’s journey from Pink Beach, the top of Lawa could be seen in the distance – boats were docking along the beach.
Spreading the word about the beauty of Labuan Bajo to improve its popularity among tourists requires the support of many parties, including all state-owned enterprises (SOEs). SOEs’ support for the development of Labuan Bajo as one of the special economic areas in the tourism sector is being realised through a leadership forum and social activity with the theme ‘SOE Synergy for Indonesia’.
The event, held on October 27–29, 2016, was attended by SOE Minister Rini Soemarno and president and CEOs of all SOEs. During their stay in Labuan Bajo, the SOE leaders took a closer look at any urgent requirements in the area so as to support the acceleration of Komodo’s prioritisation as a tourism destination through the corporate social
responsibility programmes of each SOE.