Ministry official slams Benoa Bay plan
Ni Komang Erviani
The Jakarta Post
Following rejections from activists, academics and prominent figures on the island against the plan to develop Benoa Bay into luxury tourist facilities, an official of the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry also opposed the project, saying the plan would hurt Bali.
The ministry's resources development head, I Gde Pitana Brahmanda, said on Wednesday there were many reasons to reject the plan.
'Southern Bali is already overcrowded and overdeveloped. Physical developments there should be stopped. Now's the time to improve the quality of tourism services,' Pitana said.
Before joining the ministry, Pitana was a professor at Bali's Udayana University, where his studies frequently highlighted flaws in the island's tourism development policy. Pitana explained that the overdevelopment of South Bali could be seen by several indicators. The most obvious indicator is the oversupply of hotel rooms. 'The development should be diverted to the northern or eastern part of Bali,' he stressed.
The ministry's survey published in December 2010 revealed the island had a surplus of 9,800 hotel rooms. Most hotels are located in three regencies in south Bali: Badung, Gianyar and Denpasar. The study observes the number of available hotel rooms and compares it with visitor numbers, the average length of stay, and occupancy rates.
Besides the oversupply of hotel rooms, Pitana said, the overdevelopment of south Bali is also indicated by worsening congestion, water pollution, trash problems, water and electricity shortages. All of the problems have triggered complaints from tourists.
'Complaints about security and safety have tended to increase. A moratorium should be implemented firmly,' Pitana said.
Pitana also feared the Benoa Bay development would negatively influence the island's environment. He said the development plan in Benoa Bay should not be continued as it would negatively influence the operations of Ngurah Rai International Airport.
'An international airport should be located away from any massive developments such as hotels or residences. But now the airport is surrounded by new buildings,' he said.
Pitana also hoped that further considerations from academics' analysis on the danger of Benoa Bay reclamation would be taken into account.
'Many experts say the reclamation will cause changes in sea currents, damage of mangrove forests, the sedimentation of Benoa seaport and many others,' he added.
Pitana denied the Benoa Bay plan was part of the national development program, called the Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI), as previously claimed by Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika.
Deputy chief of Bank Indonesia's Bali branch Gde Made Sadguna also questioned the Benoa Bay development plan.
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