The operation of Lombok's new international airport has paved the way for the island's increasing popularity as a tourist destination, a survey finds.
Tourism Solutions International (TSI), a Singapore-based hospitality investment firm, disclosed in its latest research report that the increase in international arrivals to Lombok ' a tourist destination close to the already world-famous destination of Bali ' is partly thanks to the island's new international airport.
According to TSI, passenger arrivals in Lombok stood at 896,348 in 2012, an increase from 579,705 passengers in 2009. 'International arrivals accounted for less than 2 percent of arrivals,' it said.
Passenger arrivals in Lombok increased to nearly one million in 2013, with international arrivals exceeding 41,000, or doubling to approximately 4 percent of total arrivals, compared to 17,032 recorded in 2012.
'This is a significant market dynamic that is impacting the tourism market,' TSI said.
The firm said it expects that international arrivals will rise to approximately 7 percent of total arrivals in 2014 'if current international air service remains constant'.
'Providing international flight frequency does not change in 2014, we project that the arrival figure will be approximately 70,000 in 2014,' it said.
The new 551-hectare airport in Lombok commenced operation in 2011. The terminal capacity is 3 million arrivals per year, with a planned runway extension to accommodate larger planes.
'The airport's location is expected to cause a shift from northwest Lombok ['¦] being the only dominant tourism center, to enable south Lombok and its beaches a chance to be looked at as a second major destination hub,' it said.
Despite the rise in the number of international arrivals, international tourist numbers remain relatively low, which, according to the report, is attributable to the limited number of direct flights.
'There were more than 220 domestic flights per week and 11 international flights per week in 2012,' it said.
Until almost the end of 2012, Silk Air was the only international carrier flying to Lombok, which explains why Singapore was the top feeder market in 2012, with 19 percent, for direct air arrivals to Lombok, according to the report.
In 2012, Europeans, namely from Germany, the UK and France, accounted for a third of international arrivals, while Malaysia contributed about 10 percent.
New flights from Kuala Lumpur, which started in November 2012, as well as flights from Perth, Australia, that began in September 2013 and from Singapore in November 2013 are causing further shifts in key markets in 2014, according to the report.
International visitors tend to stay longer, with an average trip length of almost four days, compared to three days for domestic travelers in 2012.
Hotels and upper-tier resorts
TSI also revealed the rise in the number of hotels and upper-tier resorts in Lombok, dubbed as one of the world's emerging destinations.
Quoting data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), TSI said that from 2010 to 2012, the hotel room supply of three- to five-star hotels has grown at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 28.5 percent, to reach almost 2,400 rooms in 2012, compared to approximately 1,400 rooms in 2010.
'The main increase has been in three-star hotels, which represents about 42 percent of this existing supply; while four-star hotels represent 47 percent and the balance being five-star hotels, most of which are less than 40 rooms in size,' it said.
Apart from hotels, top tier resorts also recorded robust growth in terms of occupancy rate in the last two years.
Qunci Villa and Sudamala resorts at Mangsit Beach have continued to expand thanks to the new growing market.
'Qunci Villas remained in the mid 80 percent occupancy range through an expansion that doubled [it] in size in 2012,' the report said.
According to TSI, the next stage in Lombok's evolution includes the development of attractions and tourism support infrastructure ranging from improved healthcare facilities, ground tour operators, wedding planners and other notable cultural attractions. 'JP