IN THE last few days, Labuan Bajo Village, Komodo District, West Manggarai Regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), has been crowded with guests from within the country and abroad with the same goal, namely attending the 42nd Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo will be held from May 9 to May 11, 2023, with a number of high-ranking officials holding meetings at the main events, namely the Meruroah Hotel and AYANA Komodo Waecicu Beach.

In this chairmanship, Indonesia has adopted the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicenter of Growth” which means ASEAN is relevant and important as the center of world growth, with the aim of strengthening ASEAN’s institutional capacity and effectiveness, so as to be able to answer challenges in the next 20 years.

This grand agenda also discusses ASEAN as a center of growth, with a large population and economic growth that is almost always above the average world economic growth, it is hoped that ASEAN will continue to be a center of economic growth that is inclusive, resilient and sustainable.

This conference will also boost the economy in various cities throughout Indonesia, and momentum to showcase development progress, so that it can attract foreign investment to Indonesia.

Multiplier Effect
The organization of the 42nd ASEAN CTF has created a multiplier effect for the real sector economy in the Labuan Bajo area and its surroundings, ranging from fully booked lodging to restaurants that are always crowded with guests every day.

One of the hotel service providers, Front Office Manager of Loccal Collection Hotel Rian Hidayat, said that all hotels in Labuan Bajo had a positive impact with the current 42nd ASEAN Summit, including the hotel he manages.

At Loccal Collection Hotel, he revealed that guests who stayed were dominated by officials of Indonesian government agencies to representatives of delegations from foreign countries. During the implementation of the 42nd ASEAN Summit from May 7 to May 12, 2023, he said the rooms were always fully occupied with a percentage of room occupancy reaching 100%.

“The increase is extraordinary. Usually 60 to 70% (room occupancy), now 100% continues. Then, the government gave a message to provide the best service for guests, both from within the country and delegates from abroad, during the 42nd ASEAN Summit,” said Rian.

Labuan Bajo is ready to receive and serve large international events, so that guests know that the region is capable, especially in Labuan Bajo.

Loccal Collection Hotel has a characteristic, which is to appoint local residents to be empowered as employees, where almost 90% of employees are taken from local communities around West Manggarai Regency.

Meanwhile, one of the local restaurants Pondok Mal Ceng’go, which is quite close to Meruorah Hotel, the main hotel for the 42nd ASEAN Summit, recorded an increase of more than 100 percent compared to a normal day.

“Almost 100 percent (increase), even over, today many guests were disappointed. We also received orders from the ASEAN Summit, but lacked space,” said Executive Manager of Pondok Mal Ceng’go Marlina Purukan or Kiki.

Kiki hopes that the increase in visitors will not only occur when there are big events, such as the current 42nd ASEAN Summit, but will also continue in the future.

Pondok Mal Ceng’go also empowers human resources from local residents. Almost 100 percent of employees are local, only the chefs are from outside. Management opened a business for local employment.

Local government support
Meanwhile, the Head of the Tourism, Creative Economy and Culture Office of West Manggarai Regency, Pius Baut, said that the successful provision of accommodation during the 42nd ASEAN Summit was inseparable from the cooperation between business actors and the local government.

Likewise, West Manggarai Regent Edistasius Endi has circulated a circular letter (CL) to tourism players in Labuan Bajo and its surroundings to support the organization of the 42nd Summit. There are several CLs from the regent to tourism players to support the ASEAN Summit, according to their respective types of businesses and licenses.

In addition, there are also directions from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy through various meetings that have been held previously. Until Tuesday (9/5), the West Manggarai Tourism and Creative Economy Office noted that all available hotel rooms around Labuan Bajo, totaling around 2,000 rooms, were fully occupied for May 7 to May 12, 2023.

Along with the full capacity of the hotel, it supports local residents to provide lodging or home stays to accommodate guests who run out of hotel rooms.

Pius is optimistic that the 42nd ASEAN Summit will attract more tourists, both local and foreign, to visit Labuan Bajo in the future.

The 42nd ASEAN Summit has guaranteed the safety and comfort of Labuan Bajo. This will boost tourists to Labuan Bajo, from several previous years, several events aimed at promotion and cultural preservation. [antaranews/photo special]