TANA TORAJA – Increasing accessibility and transportation connectivity are important to support tourism in Tana Toraja. Therefore, the government has built Toraja Airport in recent years to encourage connectivity and local tourism.
During a working visit to South Sulawesi Province on Thursday, March 18, 2021, President Joko Widodo inaugurated Toraja Airport, also known as Buntu Kunik Airport, in Tana Toraja Regency.
“Almost every six months I always ask the Minister of Transportation when the airport in Tana Toraja will be completed. Finally, today we can inaugurate and it is operational. We should be grateful, thank God,” said the President in his remarks.
The construction of this airport took up a budget of approximately Rp800 billion and has its challenges and uniqueness. During construction, three hills were cut to build an airport runway.
The airport has a runway length of up to 2,000 × 30 meters which is intended for the landing of ATR 72-600 aircraft. The airport is also equipped with a terminal building covering an area of 1,152 square meters which can accommodate up to 45,000 passengers per year.
The presence of the airport is expected to make it easier for the surrounding community to travel from one place to another. The mobility of goods will also increase.
“Usually, if the people here go by land to Makassar it takes nine hours. Earlier I tried the ATR (plane) for 50 minutes,” said the President.
The Toraja Tourism Sector
With this increased connectivity, the President believes that the Toraja tourism sector will also increase rapidly. In Tana Toraja, there are many tourist destinations whose access will be more open thanks to the more adequate transportation infrastructure.
“It could be that later those who come from Bali directly here, maybe from Jakarta directly here, maybe from Bandung directly to Tana Toraja to see ‘The Land Above the Clouds’, see Kete Kesu, see Pango-Pango,” he said.
Simultaneously with the inauguration of Toraja Airport, President Joko Widodo also inaugurated virtually Pantar Airport which is located in Pantar District, Alor Regency, East Nusa Tenggara Province. The parties related to the inauguration of Pantar Airport participated in the virtual inauguration ceremony of Toraja Airport.
The construction of an airport with a runway along 900 × 30 meters and equipped with a terminal building with a capacity of up to 36,000 passengers per year is a manifestation of the government’s presence to help develop underdeveloped, remote, outermost, and border areas so that it can open isolated local areas and encourage economic activity.
“This airport has been built since 2014 and we have finished operating it. This is also an airport which is very important so that if the weather by sea is less friendly, you can use this airport,” said the President.
The Head of State hopes that the construction of the two airports can have an impact on increasing regional economic growth, creating more jobs, and reviving new economic growth centers in the surrounding area.
Present at the inauguration ceremony of the two airports were Minister of State Secretary Pratikno, Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi, Caretaker (Plt) Governor of South Sulawesi Andi Sudirman Sulaiman, and Regent of Tana Toraja Theofilus Allorerung. Meanwhile, the Governor of East Nusa Tenggara Viktor Laiskodat and Deputy Governor Josef Nae Soi also attended virtually. (snd)