Indonesia is the exotic jewel of Southeast Asia, renowned for its natural biodiversity, its 17,000 islands stretching from Sabang in the west to West Papua in the east, and a population of 240 million featuring over 300 ethnic groups.
As water makes up the majority of the country’s territory, this one-of-a-kind tropical archipelago has one of the longest coastlines in the world yet remains a largely untapped playground for yachting.
The Indonesian government is struggling to develop the ideal framework – including organisation, regulations – for recreational boating and particularly to unleash the country’s potential to become one of the world’s premier yachting destinations, a true boating playground.
Some progress has been made such as the Yacht Electronic Registration System (YachtERS; yachters.beacukai.go.id) for visiting foreign yachts. There are a few marinas in build such as Marina Labuan Bajo near Komodo, the Indonesia Navy Club in Jakarta and the Kinara Marina Resort in Thousand Islands just off the capital.
There are also several government initiatives for boating infrastructure such as floating jetties for berthing throughout Indonesian waters and 21 entry ports for visiting yachts.
Many of these initiatives are focused on catering for visiting yachts, which are seen as a huge economic opportunity for Indonesia’s tourism. The ruling regime has declared its will to make tourism Indonesia’s leading sector, surpassing extractive industries like oil and gas, coal and palm oil.
Aside from making the country attractive to foreign yachts, one of the biggest challenges that needs to be decoded is how to make Indonesians the prime mover of the country’s recreational boating and yachting economy.
We have the world’s largest tropical archipelago, yet the majority of the current generation lacks an understanding of the country’s maritime culture – and the desire to go out and play at sea.
Indonesia actually has a strong history as a maritime kingdom, namely during the Srivijaya and Majapahit empires, but our domination of the seas within the archipelago was lost during the colonial era and the aftermath is still in effect today.
At the Community for Maritime Studies Indonesia (CMSI), we believe this decoding effort needs a synergistic movement between governments, communities, academics and industries with a series of breakthroughs, not a business-as-usual approach.
All parties need to work together to create a boating culture within the nation and therefore a yachting lifestyle. This is a movement to reach out to as many Indonesians as possible, and bring them to boating-related activities with the aim of creating a new maritime generation, set free from the previous land-oriented mindset. We call it a home-grown boating and yachting movement, a boating lifestyle for everyone – each and every Indonesian.
Targeting real action, CMSI has focused on a hands-on maritime empowerment effort with programmes and campaigns. Our Ayo Berlayar (Let’s Go Sailing) programme has attracted hundreds of Indonesians to enjoy the sea on our sailboat flotilla.
We’ve been working with related government institutions on regulations and policies supportive of recreational boating, and have been invited to many seminars and talk shows to discuss our campaigns.
Earlier this year, we enjoyed a golden opportunity to organise an event called Indonesia Boating Gathering at the Indonesia International Motor Show (April 25-May 5), an 11-day event that attracts over 500,000 visitors each year. Last year, the show recorded US$300 million in transactions.
The Boating Gathering introduced this captive audience to the on-water lifestyle by displaying a range of boats, engines, toys, sailing clubs and other watersports communities – stand-up paddle, wakeboarding, windsurfing – for them to discover.
We hosted talk shows about the boating lifestyle, an industry revival and a boat-related community gathering series including sailors, power boaters, anglers and divers. We aimed to lure this active audience into the exciting world of boating, hopefully planting a seed of interest that will grow. It was a small but important first step on the road to an international boat show.
Hopefully in the near future, Indonesians will enjoy our own homegrown yachting lifestyle so we can welcome foreign yachts and visitors to explore this archipelago hand in hand, and start realising the huge potential of the jewel of Southeast Asia.
Column by Nino Krisnan, a practicing naval architect and boat and yacht designer, and Secretary General of Community for Maritime Studies Indonesia (CMSI; www.cmsi.or.id)
The original Column appeared in Yacht Style Issue 47. Email [email protected] for print subscription enquiries or subscribe to the Magzter version at: www.magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/
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