Bengkulu Governor Agustrin Najamudin hopes that legions of foreign tourists will be drawn to the province, with Panjang Beach being the main drawcard, and coastal areas in general. Panjang Beach is a 7km long white sandy beach just 3km to the west of Bengkulu city, not to be confused with Pasir Panjang Beach in Malaysia.
Accommodation options along Pantai Panjang had long been limited, he admitted, but the government had already built hundreds of 'homestays' in anticipation of an influx of foreign sun-seekers, which were to be managed directly by the local people:
Foreign tourists who come to Bengkulu are expected to stay at locals' houses located near the beach
But he added that foreign tourists preferred to stay in the homes of local people anyway, rather than in hotels.
Bengkulu is on the map
However the plan to increase tourism would only work if local people got on board:
All people in the province have to be ready and open to welcome foreign tourists who will come because Panjang beach will be turned into an international tourism destination.
Fostering tourism was vital to increase economic welfare in the relatively backward province, and Agustrin pointed to the example of Bali, where the people were prosperous because the Island of the Gods had such a dynamic tourism industry that drew people from all corners of the world.