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The opening of Lombok International Airport, together with the visit of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and state cabinet ministers from 19 – 21 October, has put Lombok in the spotlight for investment and development as Indonesia’s second main tourism destination.
At the Presidential visit, Coordinating Minister Hatta Rajasa said that the Mandalika resort development project was in line with the Accelerated Indonesian Economic Development Master Plan (MPPPEI), which places Bali and Nusa Tenggara as main gateways for tourism.
The construction of the new airport is a direct attempt by the national and provincial governments to open Lombok up to international travellers and, together with the “Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012” campaign hopes to attract 1 million visitors to the island in the next two years.
Lombok International Airport (LIA) is reported to be able to handle larger aircraft, such as Boeing 747 and Airbus 320, and is designed to handle up to 3 million passengers per year.
At the centre of this development attention is the Mandalika resort area, which was previously slated for a US $600 million development by United Arab Emirates group, Emaar Properties.
The Mandalika resort area spans 1,175 hectares and is located on the south coast of Lombok, less than 30 minutes drive from the new international airport. Its coastline, facing the Indian Ocean, boasts 7.5 kilometres of fine white-sand beaches and unpolluted azure waters. The area is slated to become Indonesia’s new premier destination.
Lombok International Airport Slated for Long-Delayed Opening in October 2011.
The government now estimates the inauguration of the Lombok International Airport, on Bali’s near neighbor island to the east, will take place in October 2011.
Kompas.com reports that the long-delayed project is now in its final stages of completion, including the acquisition of lands needed to improve access to the new airport.
Sapto Kariyadi, the sales manager of the Lombok branch office ofGaruda Indonesia in Mataram, Lombok, said: “This can’t be postponed further. The airport must be quickly finished due to its meaning for the development of the economy of the island of Lombok.”
Sapto said the new Lombok airport will enhance tourism to Lombok due to its ability to handle larger aircraft.
During a visit to the new airport on Monday, June 13, 2011, the vice-minister for transportation, Bambang Susantono, called on contractors to hasten the completion of their work. Said Susantono, “if we want to inaugurate the airport in October, then all work on the airport has to be completed by September.”
Sisantono confirmed that the radar and navigation systems are operating and ready to go, with only the terminal and road access work still uncompleted.
The new Lombok International Airport covers an area of 595 hectares. The airport’s development cost RP. 802 billion (US$91 million), an increase from the Rp. 665 billion (US$75.6 million) originally estimated for the project.
[Lombok Airport to Open One Year Behind Schedule]
Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. Lombok district authorities have begun work on improving roads and other essential infrastructure to support the island’s growing popularity as a tourist destination.
The roads linking the capital city of Mataram to West and North Lombok, where the bulk of key tourist areas are located, are not only too narrow but are also in poor condition, especially in the dangerous mountainous stretch of zig-zagging roads in the Pusuk area.
The road will be widened from the Gunung Sari subdistrict in West Lombok to the Pemenang subdistrict in North Lombok. This stretch of road, running via Pusuk Pass, is currently the only road linking the two districts.
In the meantime, Sujanadi said, district authorities have already begun work on building an alternative road linking the Senggigi coastal resort in West Lombok to Pemenang in neighboring North Lombok.
“Almost 70 kilometers of the new road in North Lombok has already been completed,” he said.
Sujanadi added that since tourism accounted for about 70 percent of the North Lombok district’s local revenue, “we will do whatever we can to assure greater comfort for tourists.”
The road leading to Pusuk Pass, a popular lookout spot with a panorama of the three Gili islands, is notorious for the troops of monkeys often seen coming out of the bordering forest, now becoming a hazard for traffic.
Tourist guides in the Senggigi beach resort area have also complained of frequent flooding on certain stretches of road, and piles of garbage accumulating near the entrance gate of the Senggigi resort.
The road to Mawun, a popular beach in Central Lombok’s south, is also severely damaged. Local resident Amet said the government had begun to repair the sides of the road, especially the embankments, but the many potholes had been left untouched.
However, Amet said, an alternative road is available. Authorities say road repairs on tourist routes are ongoing and are expected to be completed next year.
Landslides are a common problem for road users heading to Sembalun, another popular destination, on the slopes of the Rinjani mountain in East Lombok.
“The damage to bridges along the main road from Sembalun is disturbing. The bridges’ foundations are clearly being eroded by water, causing landslides, but the road has not been given the attention it needs,” said Jumala, a local farmer who uses the damaged stretch of road from Sembalun to sell his produce in Mataram.
Road users on that stretch have also complained of the posts set up by locals demanding money to clean the road and fill potholes. “It is true that they do not demand much, about Rp 2,000 (20 cents) for children and Rp 4,000 to Rp 5,000 for adults who pass the damaged road to Sembalun,” said Ecang, a Mataram resident.
Regarding the narrow stretch of road leading to Pusuk Pass, West Nusa Tenggara provincial government spokesman Lalu Moh Faozal said local authorities were having problems obtaining the necessary permit from forestry authorities to widen the road, as this would take up forest land.
“The provincial government is facing constraints in obtaining the necessary permits to widen the Pusuk Pass road since this stretch lays within a forest conservation park,” he said.
“Permission can only be granted by the central government, or in this case, the Forestry Minister, for the Pusuk Pass road to be widened,” Faozal said.
He added that Pusuk Pass was initially a subdistrict road but following the separation of North Lombok from West Lombok, the road had become a link for the two districts.
He said the road to Mawun and nearby Awang beach was also in bad shape because it supported frequent heavy traffic such as trucks heading to the Nusantara port. The road is currently under repair, with the work expected to be completed by mid-2011, Faozal said.
An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, dated Jan 25, 2011
The new Bali? Indonesia hopes so
Traffic jams are now common in Bali, a victim of its own success in pulling in swarms of tourists and using the money to buy cars and turn rice paddies into hotels.
Across a narrow sea channel lies Lombok, another volcanic island ringed by beaches, where in the capital Mataram the few foreign visitors are more likely to be slowed down by a horse-drawn cart than a tailback of Toyotas.
But authorities in Indonesia, a current emerging market investor darling, have big plans for the island.
A new international airport is expected to open later this year, and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is leading a bidding race to develop an unspoilt southern coastline of white sand into a world class resort and luxury residential community.
Indonesia hopes such projects will overhaul its poor infrastructure, seen as both a hurdle to growth and a cash making opportunity, with Asia showing the most investment interest in a sign of new money flows between emerging markets.
Lombok’s leading exclusive development so far, Indian-owned The Oberoi, an isolated and expansive resort of manicured lawns and infinity pools facing Bali, was chosen as the venue for a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers this week.
“We brought the ministers here to show them how unspoilt it is … and the opportunities,” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said during a stroll through the grounds.
Tourism contributes just 2-3 per cent to the country’s GDP, versus 6 per cent for Thailand, and economists believe boosting Indonesia’s service industries could be a new engine of growth for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
Indonesia’s 17,000 islands stretch from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, and offer pristine coral reefs, diverse cultures, archaeological monuments, striking volcanic scenery and dense rainforests with unique wildlife such as orangutans.
“We think we can do eco-tourism,” said Natalegawa. “We discussed as a group what value-add the region can offer, and we think it is forests and the marine environment,” he said, after taking his counterparts to get their feet wet by releasing baby turtles into the waves and planting trees along the shore.
Despite the symbolic gesture, and a deal with Norway to earn $1 billion by halting forest clearing, the country’s environmental record is poor. Deforestation led it to be the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter in 2005, according to the World Bank, with palm oil and timber plantations putting the Sumatran tiger and Javan rhino at risk of extinction.
A bitter dispute between the palm oil industry and environmentalists underlines the difficulties for the region of spurring economic growth and preserving its environment.
Southeast Asia still has plenty of exotic spots that it could promote, especially in Indonesia and Cambodia, said Surin Pitsuwan, head of regional political group ASEAN, also pointing to Myanmar if moves towards democracy enabled investment.
ASEAN, home to 500 million people, aims to liberalise air traffic and invest in improving regional road links.
Local authorities in Lombok, whose wildlife contributed to the theory of evolution through naturalist Alfred Wallace, are keen to develop the industry, but there is no guarantee Bali’s tourism success can be reproduced elsewhere in the archipelago.
Lombok’s culture is not as obviously rich as Bali’s, lacking its famous dances or unique brand of Hinduism, while Bali has learnt over centuries what foreigners look for and still-smiling locals are multilingual. By contrast Lombok’s interior offers a tough hike up active volcano Mount Rinjani and some hard stares.
“People come to Bali for the culture, not the view – the view is better in the Maldives. Here in Lombok it’s nature,” said Widi, from Bali and working at the Sheraton on Senggigi, currently the only developed strip of beach on Lombok, but where an empty coastal road divides surfers and boutique villas from thatched shacks and green mountain humps.
With no timeframe to complete the $600 million project to put 10,000 luxury villas on the southern coast, it seems Lombok is not yet ready for the region’s leaders – Indonesia will host a meeting of Asian prime ministers in Bali later this year.
“Tourism development would be a great thing here in Lombok,” said Widi. “I just hope they plan it better than Bali.”