Bali is preparing to welcome the first cruise ship to arrive on the island in over 2-years. The Australian cruise ship, Laperouse, will come into Benoa Harbour on the 19th of September. The return of cruise ships to Bali is a positive sign that the Island of the Gods continues to move in the right direction, rebuilding the tourism economy day by day.
Laperouse will be carrying 70 international tourists arriving in Bali after a short stop at Port Kalabahi in East Nusa Tenggara. Speaking on behalf of Indonesia’s Port Operators, Pelindo, the Regional Head, Ardhy Wahyu Basuki, told reporters that his teams were ready and excited to welcome Laperouse. He said, ‘This is the moment we are really waiting for after almost 2 years we have not received cruise ship visits due to the pandemic’.
The excitement is heightened by plans for the Bali Maritime Tourism Hub. The tourism area that is being established around Benoa Harbour is focused on building capacity for bigger cruise ships and ocean liners. The return of cruise ships to Below Harbour and the Bali Maritime Tourism Hub is an exciting and affirming moment for all involved in the project.
Ardhy shared that at least 135 cruise ships are booked to dock at Benoa Harbour in 2023. A few dozen more are scheduled to arrive before the end of 2022. He said, ‘It is true that at this time we have obtained a number of planned ship visits in 2022 and 2023, we must prepare this properly so that it can have an impact on the tourism economy in Indonesia’.
A local cruise operator, I Nyoman Sudana, told local reporters that it is vitally important that these early cruise ship arrivals go smoothly. With the much-anticipated return of cruise tourism and ambitious expansion plans, stakeholders will be watching closely, seeking reassurance that the project management teams and the site are ready.
Sudana said, ‘This [arrival] must be prepared carefully because this momentum can be a turning point for the revival of international tourism in Indonesia, especially Bali’.
Sudana shared his enthusiasm and said he, like many others, had been waiting for over 2-years for this moment. While he has to wait another week or so, Sudana and his college can finally breathe a sigh of relief. so much longer to reopen and relaunch operations. While much of Bali’s tourism sector has experienced some form of reopening, the cruise industry had to wait Sudana said, ‘This is something we have been looking forward to for approximately 2 years from this pandemic’.
His sentiments were echoed by local souvenir seller Dadiasih who has a stall at Benona Harbor. Dadiasih said, ‘The [positive outcome] we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived, and we and our friends can sell again’. The return of cruise operations has a positive knock-on effect on the communities living and working in the area.
There are dozens of medium, small and micro enterprises that have been living with minimal income since the pandemic began. Many solo entrepreneurs or business owners had to completely close down operations and, if they were lucky, were able to find work in farming or fishing.
One of Bali’s key tourism leaders I Ketut Jaman, shared his delight and optimism at the return of cruise ships to Bali. He shared his hopes that the return of Laperouse on the 19th of September would trigger a further acceleration of development in the area.
The Bali Maritime Tourism Hub is a multi-million dollar expansion of the Benoa Harbor and surrounding areas. The development will include a yacht marina, yacht club, theme park, and water sports facility. Work is already underway, including dreading the coastline to increase the port’s depth to allow much larger cruise ships to come in to dock.
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