Construction to start on cruise ship terminal at Bali’s Benoa, completion hoped for 2018 IMF-World Bank meeting

The Indonesian government has big plans for Bali’s Benoa. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Indonesian government has big plans for Bali’s Benoa. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Making way for literal boatloads of more tourists in Bali, the building of a cruise ship terminal at the island’s Benoa Port will begin in September, Indonesian officials announced last week.

The decision to start construction next month comes after a meeting lead by Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan on August 1.

The new cruise terminal will open up South Bali’s Benoa, which at the moment can only accommodate two cruise ships at a time, to mega cruise ships carrying up to 5,000 passengers and 1,500 crew members. Construction is slated for completion by the end of next year.

“The East Dock Pool will be 662 x 150 meters with the depth of 11 meters whilst the West Dock Pool will be 900 x 150 meters with the depth of four meters. The Cruise Ship Terminal will be able to manage 2,500 passengers on a single batch,” said Pelindo III president director Ari Ashkara, as quoted in a statement released by the Indonesian government.

PT Pelindo III is the state-owned port management company in charge of the new port’s construction.

Some cruise ships have been too big for Bali in the past because of Benoa’s shallow shipping lanes and have been forced to anchor at sea, about five kilometers out from the pier. So, a cruise port with a deepened navigation channel would allow bigger ships to get closer.

The construction of the cruise ship terminal is part of the government’s strategic master plan to develop Benoa into a hub port for cruise ships in Southeast Asia. The big hope is that Bali would become an arrival and departure point for cruise ships from around the world, with cruise operators setting up their home base in Bali. Rather than just a destination port as it is now, where tourists just get dropped off to explore the island then get back on the same ship and continue with their travels.

The government also has plans to develop Celukan Bawang Port in North Bali, to make the island’s less trodden north more accessible to the masses.

Celukan Bawang is apparently being prepared as a tourist boat stop and will be a stopover point for seven ships, carrying 1,000 passengers on average, from December 2017 to March 2018.

“Celukan Bawang Port has natural depth, so no dredging is required. Extensive land area there can also accommodate hundreds of vehicles that will bring tourists to different tourist attractions,” VIVA News quoted the chairman of the Maritime Tourism Acceleration Team, Indroyono Soesilo, as saying.

Tourism destinations in North Bali such as Lovina Beach, Beratan Lake, Bedugul Botanical Gardens, West Bali National Park, and Menjangan Island will also be publicized as Bali’s best destinations up north, while the government is still working on the possibility of developing further new destinations in the region.

Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya says there’s huge untapped potential for the country to develop its cruise ship industry. According to Yahya, over three million tourists travel via cruise ship in East Asia and Australia, but only 200,000 foreign tourists are stopping over in Indonesia on cruises.

“With the availability of this new (Benoa) terminal facility, it is hoped that the target of 500,000 foreign tourist arrivals from cruise ships for the year of 2019 can be achieved,” the minister said.

Yahya hopes the Benoa Port can be completed by the big IMF-World Bank meeting, held in Bali in October 2018.

“This is important because the whole world will be watching Bali.”

The meeting is a huge deal for the government and setting development project deadlines, with it expressing desire to complete two major long-awaited projects: an underpass in front of Bali’s airport and construction on a towering sculpture at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park before the meeting.

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