Sunday, January 16, 2011

Don’t Ban Bali Hotel Building, Develop the North: Minister

Made Arya Kencana | January 15, 2011

Denpasar. Tourism Minister Jero Wacik has said he does not fully agree with plans of the Bali provincial administration to impose a moratorium on hotel development in Denpasar, Badung and Gianyar until 2015.

A week ago, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said the island was suffering from imbalanced tourism development and an excess of hotel rooms.

“A moratorium is fine, but it should not be too extreme,” Wacik said on Friday, adding that in his opinion the problem could be solved through spreading tourism development and infrastructure across the island.

Wacik said there were plans to build an airport in Buleleng district in North Bali and to construct railway lines in collaboration with ministries such as Public Works and Transportation.

“It is my hope that both the new airport and the new railway lines will being operating by 2014. Once the airport is done, investors will rush in to build hotels in North Bali,” he said. “So I think a moratorium will not be required.”

Mangku said last week that he was seriously considering imposing a moratorium on hotel development in Denpasar, Badung and Gianyar until 2015, and that hotel investment would better be directed toward areas such as Buleleng, Bangli, Karangasem and Jembrana.

He added, however, that he would first need to consult the island’s district heads. As required under the Autonomy Law, district heads are the ones authorized to issue building permits, not the provincial government.

Wacik was worried that if nothing happened, the south of Bali would continue to be packed and traffic would worsen.

“In North Bali, there are plenty of poor and unemployed people,” Wacik said. “Through developing North Bali, we hope to provide these people with work.”

Mangku said on Friday he was still waiting for a “more specific study” from the Bali Tourism Board, which is considered one of the best-informed institutions when it comes to the dynamics of tourism on Bali.

“We still need input from the general public about these plans so that we have a very strong foundation [should a hotel moratorium be imposed],” the governor said.

“Without local input and local research, no bylaw can be issued on this matter,” he continued. “And Bali continues to be bombarded with investors who want to build ever more hotels in Kuta, Sanur, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua.”

A report issued by the Tourism Ministry’s Research and Development Center in collaboration with Udayana University showed that Bali had 55,000 hotel rooms — 9,800 more than the ideal number of rooms. Most hotels are located in the south.

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