Land disputes raise concerns as gov’t plans to develop tourist attractions in NTB ahead of MotoGP races

Mandalika is located in the southern part of Lombok island. Photo: ITDC
Mandalika is located in the southern part of Lombok island. Photo: ITDC

With tourists expected to flock to West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) next year to attend the MotoGP motorcycle race (if the health situation allows), the Indonesian government announced this week that it will further develop tourist destinations in the province, a project that also covers nearly 800 villages.

Abdul Halim Iskandar, Minister of Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration, said that IDR9.4 billion (US$647,235) has been allocated for the project, which will focus on four regencies within the Mandalika Priority Tourism Zone in NTB.

The Ministry hopes to seize the potential of a multiplier effect from the world-class racing event so that local communities can also benefit. The project will involve developing homestays as well as digital marketing to promote both natural and cultural attractions in the area.

In 2019, Indonesia signed a deal with Dorna Sports ⁠— the exclusive commercial and television rights holder for MotoGP ⁠— to host the world-class motorcycling races for five years. The initial contract has since been extended to 10 years, with the first race set to take place in 2021 in Lombok, under the organizing of MGPA, a business unit of state-owned Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC).

However, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) last month urged ITDC to halt the construction of the MotoGP circuit in Mandalika, the coastal resort area that will be the main location for the races, following reports of land disputes with local residents.

Komnas HAM said they received reports from 15 landowners, who were reportedly on the brink of being evicted without ever being compensated for their land and were allegedly targets of intimidation.

The government has yet to publicly address the land dispute concerns amid its plans to develop the region’s tourism potential.

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