Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Emaar, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) company, is ready to invest US$600 million to open a tourist resort on 1,175 ha of land in Lombok island in West Nusatenggara province, an Indonesian tourism official said here Thursday.
The tourist resort would be built in tandem with the construction of an international airport in Lombok island scheduled for completion in 2009, Wardiatmo, senior adviser for economic and science affairs to the Culture and Tourism Minister, told a panel discussion themed "Increasing Middle Eastern Tourist Arrivals Through Tourism-based Entrepreneurship."
Indonesia and UAE had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the tourism cooperation, he told the forum which was held by the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Trade and Industry (Kadin).
Emaar would be the first-ever Middle Eastern investor to do business in the tourism sector in Lombok island, Wardiatmo said.
Lombok island and world-renowned Bali island are only separated by the Lombok Strait.
Wardiatmo said over 60,000 Middle Eastern tourists traveled to Indonesia in 2005, increasing from about 22,000 in 2004.
In 2006, however, the number of Middle Eastern tourists visiting Indonesia dropped to 58,000 from 60,000 in 2005.
Thirty percent of the total number of Middle Eastern tourists who arrived in Indonesia last year was from Saudi Arabia, 13 percent from the United Arab Emirates and 6 percent from Kuwait.
Meanwhile, chairman of Kadin`s Jakarta chapter Sofian Pane said the panel discussion was aimed at formulating a strategic plan to bring more Middle Eastern tourists to Indonesia. (*)