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The overhaul of the Port of Benoa will transform it into a world-class port that can accommodate big cruise ships as well as hundreds of yachts. The new information was delivered by the Coordinating Minister of Maritime, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, when he was on board the KRI Banjarmasin 592 ship that docked at the Port of Benoa on Thursday (24/08).

Luhut said the development project, which had been abandoned for 17 years, will soon start again. The groundbreaking for the construction of the cruise ship terminal is expected to be held on September 11. “We will fix the landscape so that the marina can accommodate plenty of cruise ships, even becoming a hub,” Luhut said, as reported by Bali Post.

He further added that the Benoa Master Plan will focus on optimizing supporting facilities, and that will entail dredging the sea 12-meters deep and widening the area up to 200 meters. “As well as building a special dock for cruise ships,” said Luhut. The port, once finished, will hold up to 100 yachts at once and cruise ships that can carry a maximum of 5000 passengers.

They will also build other facilities that will cater to tourists, such as resorts and shopping centers. “This will accommodate tourists who might want to stay for a while on the island before continuing their trip to other destinations like the Komodo Island, Lombok or Labuan Bajo.”

The new facilities are all expected to be completed in late 2018, and Luhut hopes that it will be ready before the IMF – World Bank annual meeting that will take place in October 2018. “Hopefully we can bring in more tourists from the ocean route.”

The Minister of Tourism, Arief Yahya, welcomes the swift initiative made by Budi Karya Sumadi, the Minister of Transportation. He said the move was part of the “Indonesia Incorporated” program that is meant to improve the tourism industry which has been stated by the President, Joko Widodo, as one of the backbones of the national economy.

“Once it has been prioritized, the Ministry and agencies must support it,” Arief said, adding that a terminal catering to mega cruise ships will be effective in increasing the number of tourists, especially considering that tourists traveling with cruise ships in the East Asia – Australia region can reach up to 3 million per year, but so far only 200,000 people traveled to Indonesia via cruise ships. “With the new terminal, we hope we can accomplish our target of having 500,000 tourists visiting in 2019,” said Arief.

With its current capacity, the Port of Benoa can only accommodate a maximum of two cruise ships, but other than revamping the port, Arief said that the government will focus on developing other ports as well. “We will improve five other ports that have the potential to accommodate cruise ships, such as Belawan, Tanjung Priok, Tanjung Perak, and Soekarno-Hatta in Makassar.”