Benoa becomes turnaround port
Benoa cruise terminal has finally started operating as a turnaround port as of last week under the new name of Cruise International Terminal, serving both the embarkation and debarkation of cruise passengers.
Iwan Sabatini, general manager of PT Pelindo III Benoa, the state-owned company that manages the port, said that in the first day of operation, MV Regent Seven Seas Voyager cruise ship, heading to Darwin, debarked 356 passengers and embarked a similar number of other passengers.
It was the 33rd ship to dock at the harbor this year
“The process of embarkation and debarkation ran as expected, but we will continue to improve the service,” Sabatini said. He said the success in operating Benoa as a turnaround port would promote the harbor in the global cruise market.
On the second day of operation, Sunday, the MV Seabourne Odyssey, followed by the MV Silver Shadow, arrived, bringing the total arrival of cruise ships calling in at Benoa to 35 this year.
Sabatini explained that as a turnaround port, the harbor served pre- and post programs. In pre-programs, tourists arrive in Bali by airplane, spend several nights on the island, then leave the island on a cruise ship. In post programs, they arrive in Bali on a cruise ship and leave by air after spending several nights here.
The turnaround port now has many facilities, including more room for X-ray equipment, as well as a luggage area that can be adjusted to suit the number of passengers. There are also check-in counters, free Wi-Fi and a post office counter.
The supporting personnel have also been well trained to give the best service. “We will continue to improve our service to fulfill the standards of an international terminal. We need support from all our stakeholders,” Sabatini said.
The operation of Benoa as a turnaround port was expected to ease congestion at Ngurah Rai International Airport, especially in the holiday seasons. Cruise visits to Bali were also expected to have a positive impact on the island and Indonesia, he added.
Besides occupying accommodation facilities and enjoying food in the island’s restaurants, the cruise passengers could also take tour packages offered by travel agents, buy souvenirs, enjoy spa treatments and other fun activities.
Over the last several years, tourist arrivals in Bali through seaports have seen a significant increase, although the number is still smaller than arrivals through the airport, said head of the tourism agency, Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu.
The agency’s data showed that in 2010, the number of foreign tourists arriving in Bali through seaports reached 28,154 people, that number increased by 11.34 percent to 31,346 people in 2011. In the previous years, the number was only around 5,000.
“Although the number is relatively small, seaports have huge potential to be developed to increase tourist arrivals to Bali and Indonesia,” he said.
Those coming through seaports were usually from the US, Europe, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The peak of their arrivals was usually around April. Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said that this year the ministry was targeting welcoming 119,000 cruise ship tourists and 500,000 by 2016.
She said there were 15 seaports in Indonesia that were able to serve cruise ships, including in Ambon, Belawan, Benoa, Celukan Bawang, Jakarta, Karimunjawa, Komodo, Kumai, Lembar, Makasar, Pare Pare, Probolinggo, Sabang, Semarang and Surabaya.