Authorities Cruising for Liner Success

BENOA

The national tourism authorities are eager to develop Indonesia as a destination for crusie ships, a minister said in Denpasar.

Mari Elka Pangestu, head of the Tourism and Creative Economy ministry was attending a workshop on the cruise industry in Bali.  She said that there were plans to develop 25 ports nationwide as cruise destinations.

“We want to show that we are serious, especially in terms of infrastructure readiness,” she said.

Amongst the ports identified for the project were those at Surabaya and Makassar.  In Bali both the main commercial port at Benoa, and a second port at Tana Ampo in Karangasem had been identified as crusie destinations.

Pangestu said that facilities such as passenger terminals and approach roads would be improved at all the ports.

“We don’t a situation where the harbours are ready but the terminals and transportation remain messy,” she said.

Around 200 cruise liners with 119,000 passengers are expected in Indonesia this year, with most stopping in Bali.  Pangestu said that the government hoped to see cruise passengers totalling 500,000 within three years.  Indonesia is targeting a total of 8 million tourist arrivals for 2012.

The minister said that while cruise ships only provided a relatively small number of visitors they were considered to be of high value.

“You have to bear in mind that 80 percent of the passengers will come back and stay longer.  And don’t forget that every cruise liner brings along crew members whose numbers may total half of the passengers,” she said.

A total of Rp3 trillion has been budgeted for the port improvements, with Benoa in line for the first makeover, according to officials.

Amongst representatives of cruise companies attending the workshop was Craig Millan of Royal Caribbean International.  Millan said that Indonesia had huge potential as a cruise destination.

“During winter, cruise tourism will shift from China and other destinations, and Indonesia can pick it up. Or it can take from that country to enter Australia during the winter. We are ready to cooperate,” he said.

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