As the fate of a second airport in northern Bali hangs in the air, what’s more urgently needed is better planning and development of land infrastructure in the popular tourist island, trade members told TTG Asia.
The idea to develop a second airport came from the Bali regional government in as I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport’s annual capacity of 17 million passengers is deemed inadequate to cope with the anticipated tourism boom.
Indonesia Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi said that the government is still deliberating its decision, but the focus now is to maximise the existing airport in southern Bali, for example, by building another runway.
Instead of building a new airport, Ida Bagus Agung Partha, chairman of Bali Tourism Board (GIPI), urged the Indonesian government to concentrate on developing road and seaport infrastructure to make it easier for travellers to around Bali.
He said: “It is the poor-quality roads and the absence of other alternatives which has made it difficult for tourists to explore Bali. More importantly, the development can also become a gateway for potential investments to come in, creating entrepreneurial opportunities for the local people.”
Ketut Ardana, chairman of ASITA Bali Chapter, agreed: “With better road infrastructure, travel companies can create road trip packages to northern Bali. This will disperse Bali’s tourism (traffic) away from the concentrated areas of Kuta and Nusa Dua.”
He added: “Although Bali has some of the best scenic routes in Indonesia, it takes more than three hours to reach northern Bali from Ngurah Rai. If we could reduce the time to, say, one and half hour, there will be more tourists (opting for) road trips.”
Ida Bagus Lolec Surakusuma, managing director Pacific World Nusantara, said: “What we need in Bali is a diversification of products and destinations, not a new airport. We just have to be more innovative.”