According to the Department of Culture and Tourism, Bali's southern seaport of Benoa is being prioritized for development as an international standard turn-around port for cruise vessels.
In a report carried in Bisnis Indonesia, the government is reportedly seeking to equip the Benoa Port facility with hotels and amusement centers seen as necessary supports to a passenger port facility. The report also says that the provincial government of Bali has been asked to undertake dredging in various parts of the current harbor to allow visits by larger vessels.
The Secretary General of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Sapta Nirwandar, told a meeting of sea-tourism operators: "We want Benoa to become a cruise ship terminal with the dimensions of an entertainment area in accordance with the dynamics exhibited by other international turn-around-ports. Benoa has become a priority for us."
Sapta went on to explain that Benoa has become a top priority nationally for development as a turn-around-port out of consideration of the local potential for sea tourism. The leading tourism official also justified the decision of his department by pointing to the growing number of cruise passengers calling on the port of Benoa every year.
Sapta said: "Last year alone some 1.7 million (foreign) tourists visited Bali. The number of visits by cruise ships to Bali is also large. We are targeting that by 2009 that a turn-around port is in operation, creating a an international cruise destination that is equal to Singapore."
By developing Benoa as a cruise port Sapta is certain that the number of cruise ship visits to Bali will increase and this, in turn, will act as a stimulus to developing cruise tourism in eastern Indonesia.
Didien Junaedy, the Secretary General of the Association of Sea Tourism Operators (Gahawisri) welcomed Sapta's comment, describing this as positive development in national sea tourism.
At the same time, Junaedy cautioned the government not to focus only on Benoa, as there were many other ports in the rest of Indonesia worthy of their attention.
In response, Sapta said the government has plans for development and upgrading of port facilities in other areas, such as Batam, Bintan, Maksassar and North Sulawesi.
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