JAKARTA, Indonesia – All the island’s tourism stakeholders are gearing up to warmly welcome the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, to be held in November 2013.
Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Tourism Industry Association, is reassuring people in the industry that this international event will have a positive impact on the island’s economic condition.
“We are now witnessing the influx of foreign and domestic investment flowing into various sectors — infrastructure and tourist accommodation, in particular,” Wijaya said.
As part of the preparations to host the APEC summit, the central government also has been focusing on infrastructure improvement on the island through several construction projects.
The ongoing airport expansion project, the Dewa Ruci underpass and the construction of a toll road connecting Nusa Dua-Benoa and Ngurah Rai International Airport are to improve the island’s public facilities and all are expected to be complete by the first half of 2013.
The toll road, which will connect Benoa harbor, Ngurah Rai International Airport and the Nusa Dua tourism enclave, is being built under a public-private partnership involving seven state-owned enterprises: PT Jasa Marga, PT Pelindo III, PT Angkasa Pura I, PT Pengembangan Pariwisata Bali, PT Wijaya Karya, PT Adhi Karya, and PT Hutama Karya. The Bali provincial administration and the Badung regency administration will also invest around Rp 100 billion (US$10.5 million) each in the toll road project.
Meanwhile, the Dewa Ruci underpass is being built at the Dewa Ruci junction, a busy intersection next to Mall Bali Galeria in Kuta. It is the critical point of convergence for traffic to and from the island’s most important tourism sites, including Ngurah Rai International Airport, Nusa Dua, Kuta, Sanur, Denpasar and Ubud. Long and prolonged gridlock is a common sight at and around the intersection. The underpass will be 450 meters long and is estimated to cost Rp 136 billion funded from the state budget.
The expansion project for Ngurah Rai International Airport is also underway to anticipate the surge in traffic prior to the APEC summit. PT Angkasa Pura I, the operator of Ngurah Rai International Airport, has spent Rp 2.7 trillion to improve the airport’s international terminal, build a new apron and expand the parking facilities. The expansion project is expected to increase the airport’s total capacity from 9 million to 25 million passengers per year.
Beside the basic infrastructure, a number of new hotels are being built in Nusa Dua and its surrounding area. In Nusa Dua, at least 1,319 new luxury hotel rooms will be added
for the APEC summit. Some of the new rooms will be in six new hotels to be built in the area, one of which is the contentious Mulia Resort at Geger Beach.
The Nusa Dua luxury-hotel enclave is already home to 4,000 rooms in 15 hotels.
“Both before and after the summit, the current infrastructure projects will give additional value to Bali as an international tourist destination,” Wijaya said.
High quality basic infrastructure — including a well-equipped airport and congestion-free traffic, is badly needed to support the island’s tourism, he added.
Wijaya asserted that the construction of additional hotel rooms would not lead to an unhealthy tariff war among hotels and other accommodation providers caused by the oversupply of rooms.
“The current unhealthy tariff war is actually occurring among three-star hotels and non-starred hotels. We still need more five-star hotels in Bali to achieve quality tourism,” Wijaya said.
Besides bringing improved infrastructure, the APEC summit is expected to serve as free-of-charge promotion for tourism in Bali.
“You can figure out the benefits of APEC for Balinese tourism. There are 21 heads of state scheduled to attend the summit.”
In addition to world leaders, journalists from across the world will also come to cover the event.
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said that the infrastructure projects implemented prior to the APEC summit were not only dedicated to the APEC meeting.
“These new projects are expected to enhance public facilities in Bali, to make the island more livable for the locals and a comfortable tourist destination for visitors,” the minister explained.
Mari added that the APEC summit should provide an opportunity to promote Balinese culture and tourism, and many of Bali’s best products. “We hope that we can use the momentum to improve Bali’s tourism image through various arts and cultural performances,” she said, adding that there would be many side events targeting tourism attractions throughout Bali during the APEC summit, including at Uluwatu and Taman Ayun Temple in Badung Regency, and Taman Safari Indonesia in Gianyar.