Industry players are eagerly anticipating the completion of a cruise terminal at Bali’s Port Benoa late this year after multiple delays, with the enhanced infrastructure expected to help address capacity strains at Denpasar airport and boost tourism numbers.
Once construction is completed, the Port of Benoa is expected to transform into a world-class port that can accommodate three cruise ships at once as well as hundreds of yachts. Currently, cruise ships stopping in Bali have to moor off shore and passengers are transported ashore on small boats.
Ida Bagus Agung Partha, chairman of Bali Tourism Board, said the cruise terminal was vital for the island with Denpasar airport’s current shortage of capacity. So far, cruise ships visit Bali more frequently than any other ports in Indonesia.
“We hope Benoa Port will open soon (as it has been delayed several times), as Bali is a hub to Indonesia and also being the central of tourism activity,” he said.
Indroyono Soesilo, special advisor to the tourism minister on marine tourism development, said that the Benoa Master Plan was focused on optimising supporting facilities, which would entail dredging the sea 12m deep and widening the area up to 200m.
“The Cruise Ship Terminal will be able to accommodate 5,000 passengers and 1,500 crew members, or equal to 44 Boeing 737 planes,” he said.
The future Benoa Port is also equipped with supporting facilities such as hotels, shopping centres, restaurants and convention centre.
According to state-owned port authority Pelindo III, Benoa Port has been battling a decrease in cruise ship arrivals due to the lack of infrastructure. In 2015, Pelindo III only attracted 58 cruise ships with 68,534 passengers and the figure was down to 53 cruise ships and 62,859 passengers in 2016. The figure for 2017 was not available at press time.
There are also plans to develop a second port in northern Bali. The new facilities at Celukan Bawang Port will accommodate seven ships at a time, each with a capacity of up to 1,000 passengers.
“Celukan Bawang Port already has the sea level that fits the standard so no further dredging is needed. The huge area of the part provides easy access for hundreds of vehicles to transport arriving tourists to attractions,” Indroyono said.
The government will also develop five other ports, such as Belawan in North Sumatera, Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, Tanjung Perak in Surabaya and Soekarno-Hatta in Makassar.
Such developments are in line with the government’s programme to develop the cruise business and become a regional cruise hub in the region.
Tourism minister Arief Yahya said in in 2016 that 260,000 tourists arrived in Indonesia on cruise ships, an increase of 30 per cent from 200,000.
Last year, visiting cruise ships made 350 calls with 320,000 passengers. The figure is expected to rise to 420 calls and 350,000 passengers in 2018.
The minister said: “Compared to cruise traffic in Singapore per-year, Indonesia still lags far behind. Singapore gets approximately 1.2 million passengers per year.”
The country seeks to boost visitors to 500,000 passengers and at least 500 cruise calls by 2019, he added.