In Indonesia media are currently not focused on the Giro d'Italia or the upcoming Tour de France but rather on the Tour de Flores, the first ever cycling race as well as the first ever international sporting event that is organized on the island of Flores in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. Between 18 and 23 May 2016, 160 competitors from 16 countries participate in the Tour de Flores competing for IDR 1 billion (approx. USD $75,000) in prize money over a 743-kilometer track (in five stages) across the island's spectacular landscape.
For the Indonesian government this cycling race is a great opportunity to boost (sport) tourism on Flores and try to make the world aware about the beauty of Flores' natural scenery. Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli witnessed the opening ceremony of the Tour de Flores in Larantuka, the capital of the East Flores Regency, on Wednesday (18/05). He said "this event is a historic moment for Flores and a great opportunity to boost tourism".
Prior to the opening on Wednesday, a folk festival was organized with the aim to promote the local cultures as well as tourism. Also during the tour, which passes through eight districts on Flores up to Monday (23/05), tourism events will be held each day. Indonesian authorities are eager to boost tourism across the country and make it a more significant source of foreign exchange earnings. Boosting tourism on Flores would improve the per capita GDP of local residents. Flores is currently among the poorest regions in Indonesia.
Other cycling races in Indonesia - the Tour de Singkarak in West Sumatra and the Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen in East Java - managed to boost tourist numbers in these regions. As such, Minister Ramli has high hopes that the Tour de Flores will contribute to economic growth on the island.
There are 13 different ethnic groups on Flores, each with its own set of cultural traditions and art. The island is also home to the famous komodo dragon (the world's largest lizard). Other key tourist attractions are the Kelimutu volcano (containing three colored lakes) and snorkeling and diving sites. Economic activity on Flores mainly involves agriculture, fishing and the production of seaweed.