For years it has lived in the shadow of its more famous neighbour Bali. Now Indonesia’s pristine Lombok Island is making a concerted effort to build itself up as the next Bali, while trying to maintain its natural charm. Slower to catch the tourism train than its neighbour to the west, Lombok has been promoted as an “unspoiled Bali”.
Tourists visiting Lombok typically treat it as a side-trip to Bali, staying just a few days.
The Japanese and Australians, Bali’s top two groups of tourists, come to Lombok for the surfing. The Koreans come here to honeymoon, the Europeans see it more like an extension of Bali, and expats come from Jakarta for the relaxation. But there’s new interest in Lombok.
The new International Airport
Work has started on a new $US72 million ($A75.11 million) international airport, close to the town of Praya and about 30km south of the existing Salaparang airport.
Authorities believe the opening of the new airport, expected in 2010, will make Lombok a primary tourist destination, rather than just an add-on to Bali. International travellers will be able to fly direct to Lombok. And the new airport will be able to handle 2.4 million visitors, a massive increase on the Salaparang airport’s 800,000 passenger capacity. Of course this project is a great economical turn up for the region south- and east Lombok. The unspoiled, natural coast is ideal for private homes or commercial projects like hotels or resorts.
By laying the foundation stone, the Governor of the province West Nusa Tenggara, Mr HL Serinata officially opened the construction works on January 19th 2008. The total investment is 665 billion rupiah (about 72.3 million US dollars) and the opening is scheduled for 2010.
The new airport is close to the village of Tanak Awu in Central Lombok, about 35 kilometers away from the city of Mataram the capital of Lombok.
Mr. Serinata expressed its hopes that the establishment and operation of this new airport would connect the island directly with the international business. “I am confident that many investors will settle here and I hope that this brings an upturn for the local job market. Therefore, we must now raise the skills of the inhabitants of the region to adapt to the new realities.” The governor said in an interview with the Jakarta Post.
The President of the state-owned airport management company “PT Angkasa Pura” Heru Legowo said: “So far, only small passenger machines can land on Lombok because the airport Selaparang is not suitable for larger aircrafts such as the Boeing 747.” The new main runway will have a length of 2750 metres, this is 650 metres longer then at the Selaparang Airport.
The Emaar Group
Jakarta, Indonesia, April 30, 2007: Emaar Properties, the UAE-based global property developer, has expanded its geographic presence in to Southeast Asia with a mixed-use project in Central Lombok Island in Indonesia. The development value of the project, spread over 1,200 hectares, is AED 2.2 billion (US$600 million; IDR 5446 billion). In the presence of Indonesian Vice President His Excellency Jusuf Kalla, Emaar Properties Chairman Mr Mohamed Ali Alabbar signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) with Mr Muhammad Syahrial, President Director, Perusahaan Pengelola Aset (PPA), the state-owned Asset Management Company. “Indonesia is our sixteenth global market and the Lombok development will scale up our property portfolio to a wider Southeast Asian region,” said Mr Alabbar. “The Lombok project also marks our consolidation of the property development roster by having world-class developments in emerging markets with high growth potential.”
He added: “Lombok is one of the most promising tourism destinations in Indonesia and has the potential to be the magnet for world-travellers. We are thankful to the Indonesian Government for their trust in us to support their development initiatives that will help position Lombok on par with Bali as a world-class tourism destination.” Emaar’s Lombok project is set at the pristine Mandalika Beach and will be an environmentally-friendly development that integrates natural elements into a residential, leisure and hospitality zone. “Eco-friendly measures will be adapted for the Lombok project to ensure that residents can enjoy the advantages of living in tune with nature,” said Mr Alabbar. “The leisure spread will incorporate diving, snorkeling, hiking and surfing sports, for which Lombok is acclaimed globally.”
“Lombok has a long history of welcoming travelers from around the world, and tourism is the island’s largest source of income,” said Mr Syahrial. “Emaar’s resort-cum-residential project will complement our efforts to further develop Lombok while maintaining its environmentally sound tourism growth initiatives.”
Emaar’s Lombok project will have a 7 km natural waterfront, which will support a marina, apart from luxury residences and resorts by five-star hospitality chains. Emaar has already initiated the process of identifying five-star international resorts and hotel brands to be part of the development, which will also have a golf course and retail amenities. The homes will employ tropical designs and low-rise architecture in tune with the surroundings.
Emaar’s global expansion to new and emerging markets is in line with its Vision 2010 to become one of the most valuable companies in the world through geographic expansion and business segmentation. Emaar already has a strong foothold in Southeast Asia, where it opened its first Emaar – Raffles International School in Singapore, which also marked the company’s diversification into education.
Emaar, today, has an overseas development portfolio of over AED 220 billion (US$60 billion) and has a significant presence in the emerging markets in Middle East and North Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, the USA and Europe. In Dubai, its home-base, Emaar is developing Burj Dubai, on course to becoming the world’s tallest tower, and The Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destinations.
The Bali Tourism Development Corporation signed off on the Lombok mega-tourism project in March, with master planning for the development beginning in April. The first five-star hotels are expected to open to guests in a few years time and further development will take place over a number of years.
Visit Lombok today and you’re certainly not met with a carbon copy of Bali. It’s immediately clear that it’s more laid back and less touristy, even though tourism is the island’s largest source of income.
It’s sometimes described as being like Bali 20 years ago, although at least one Lombok travel company says that’s incorrect if you consider the landscapes and cultures that are uniquely Lombok.
At this time there is virtually no road on Lombok that is not under construction. All the major roads in Mataram get extended; new roads are under construction to connect east and south Lombok better.
The riverbanks get fixed to avoid floods in the rainy season. 2 new powerplants are under construction, one of them geothermal.
Tourism Development Forecast
Foreign visitors to Indonesia increased by 17% in the first half of 2008, according to estimates from Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik. The number of visitors was approximately 3.1 million for the first six months of 2008, compared to 2.56 for the same period in 2007.
Additionally, the Minister estimated that tourism brought in some US $3 billion during the first half of the year. Earlier in May, the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics indicated that there had been a 13% increase in tourism for the year to date.
Wacik said in an interview in the Indonesia Investor Daily newspaper that the number of visitors is expected to increase by even larger amounts of the second half of the year. The summer and early autumn months are traditional holiday months and are the busiest of the year for the country.
At the beginning of the year, the government of Indonesia initiated the Visit Indonesia Year 2008 program to increase tourism and interest in the country. The target for 2008 is 7 million foreign visitors. That will be a large increase from 2007’s 5.51 million visitors, which was up 13% from the year before.