‘They say it is the Bali of 30 years ago, but with the current plans of the government it might as well become another Bali in 30 years.’
Lombok, and especially Mandalika in the south of Lombok is chosen as one of the 10 new Balis. Moreover, it is one of the three priority locations which should be developed as first. Which I could notice when walking around.
10 New Balis
From 1 to 10, from 10 to 20 million. Bali has always been the dominant tourism hub in Indonesia, but in 2017 president Jokowi launched the plan to create 10 new Balis and double the number of tourists up to 20 million by 2019.
Two years later, there are some projects and numbers rising, but I’m not sure if he is there yet and how Indonesia will really benefit of it. Especially if you take into account that foreign investors were looked for and found, and they might get the benefits, rather than the locals, or would it in this case be fair and square?
10 New Balis
Since 2016 president Joko Widodo already took measures to improve tourism, such as relaxing visa and business restrictions. In combination with the weakened Indonesian Rupia, tourism rose through 15.8 million in 2018, a 13% increase compared to 2017.
But Bali is but one of the 17,000 islands in the archipelago, hence here are the 10 new targeted tourist hubs of Indonesia:
- Lombok Mandalika (Lombok)
- Borobudur (Java)
- Lake Toba (North Sumatra)
- Tanjung Lesung (Banten, Java)
- The Thousand Islands (Jakarta)
- Tanjung Kelayang Beach (Bangka Belitung Islands)
- Mount Bromo (East Java)
- Labuan Bajo (East Nusa Tenggara) Flores
- Wakatobi (South Sulawesi)
- Morotai Island (North Maluku)
Airlines are already expanding their routes to support the strategy. AirAsia for instance created a direct flight between Perth, Australia, and Lombok, while Indonesian low-cost carrier Batik Air (subsidiary of Lion Air) started operating a route from Jakarta to Belitung, in the Bangka Belitung Islands province (the 6thnew Bali).
‘Three years from now, there was nothing, they explained me, just sand and chicken and local life.’ Nothing to do with today. Today, when driving around there is something remarkable in the South of Lombok. In the middle of the nothing, there are huge roads, ready to transport huge masses, yet they are empty making part of yet another part of the desert. This is Lombok Mandalika, the number one in the list.
It reminds me of the ghost town in Peru, Lobitos, where a sophisticated road network divided the desert into still empty parcels, although some parcels contained one or two little wooden huts, yet the roads did not take you really anywhere. In Lobitos, the oil companies invested in the road network in return of extracting the oil of the village.
In the south of Lombok, the government constructed the roads as starting point of the developing tourism industry around the resort area of Mandalika.
Yet the large boulevards were empty, as were the beaches, the roads, and the gigantic round-abounds. But the future starts promising. They will even construct an International Circuit Track (Moto GP) to be finished by 2021, and various luxurious resorts are under construction, such as a hotel of Pullman. When it comes to sustainability, a Solar Power Plant should be constructed as an Atlantis Tidal Energy Solution. No wonder, the entire Mandalika Resort Project would cost a $3 billion.
And here comes the promise regarding sustainability: Mandalika and its surroundings should make of south Lombok a prime eco-tourism destination, including solar farms, SWRO plants, electric light rail train, cable cards, and 51% of the space should be preserved for nature. However, at the moment of writing, none of these green promises are more than written words (yet), so let’s watch before believing…