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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Timor Leste's tourism industry still in early stages

Timor Leste has identified tourism and agriculture as two key industries.

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BACAU: To diversify its economy, Timor Leste has identified tourism and agriculture as two key industries.

Tourism was chosen because the country is blessed with natural beauty and it is a fast way to get the people employed.

The few people who have been diving in Timor Leste call their experience one of a kind.

Kevin Austin, CEO of Sustainable Marine Industry Development Facility, said: "Just four days ago, we had three adult blue whales coming through the lagoon. We haven't seen that in the world, this close to the shore. It's unusual around the world now. Around 95-97 per cent of the time, we see green turtles, sharks, reef sharks, and occasionally manta rays."

The tiny nation sits at the heart of the Coral Triangle - an area so rich in marine life that it has been called the Amazon of the Seas.

But divers, or tourists in general, are few and far between. The ones who find their way there are doing it for special reasons.

Tourist Cath Cock said: "I heard of the Santa Cruz massacre in the 90s. As an Australian, for these things to happen in our nearest neighbour, in Timor Leste, I felt some responsibility."

Timor's turbulent past does not have much mass market appeal. The tourism industry brought in just US$21 million in 2011, practically unchanged from five years ago.

Security problems are a big concern.

Until a few months ago, the UK was still warning its travellers about the danger of getting caught up in fights among gangs of youths.  (source:

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