Mon, 27 Dec 2010

From: The Jakarta Globe

By Made Arya Kencana
Denpasar. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is pushing for a moratorium on the construction of new hotels in Bali, saying the resort island has almost 10,000 rooms it doesn’t need.

Hengky Hermantoro, head of the ministry’s tourism research and development center, said there were a total of 55,000 rooms in hotels, villas and backpacker’s inns across the island. Ideally, he added, Bali should have only 45,200 rooms.

“That means Bali has 9,800 more rooms than it reasonably needs,” Hengky said at a year-end tourism discussion in Denpasar on Sunday.

Though more lodging areas are needed to cater to the growing number of tourists in southern Bali - such as in Nusa Dua, Kuta and Sanur - these are only used during peak seasons, he said. In the east, north and west of the island, where business is less brisk, many hotel rooms sit unused for most of the year.

“Hotels [in the south] frequently experience full occupancy during the year-end holidays, but hotels in other parts remain empty,” Hengky said. “That’s because tourist sites haven’t been equitably developed in those areas.”

He said tourism authorities should consider a five-year building freeze so facilities would not be wasted and space could be used more efficiently.

I Gede Pitana Brahmananda, head of the ministry’s culture and tourism resources unit, said unbridled development would edge out the green spaces for which the island was famous. He said the moratorium should be imposed in the southern districts of Badung, Denpasar and Gianyar. Poor spatial planning in these areas has lead to chronic traffic jams, he added.

“If authorities fail to issue a regulation or bylaw [to enforce the moratorium], even the governor won’t have the legal power to stop the development of hotels,” Pitana said.

“This is to ensure that the development of hotels in Bali doesn’t outpace the development of supporting infrastructure such as roads,” he added.

Perry Markus, secretary general of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association’s (PHRI) Bali chapter, also decried the mushrooming of commercial properties in Bali.

“Each year, there are an estimated 2,000 rooms added to existing accommodations on the island,” he said. “This figure doesn’t include those illegal holiday villas that are constantly being built.”

At least three hotels are scheduled to begin construction next year, according to Putu Budiasa, head of the tourism agency in Denpasar. Two of these hotels will be built in Sanur and one in downtown Denpasar.

“As long as the property developers meet all the administrative and management requirements, they’re bound to get the go-ahead for construction,” Putu said.

Foreign investment in Bali in the first half of this year doubled to Rp 4.2 trillion ($466 million) from the same period last year, with most of the capital going to hotel development, the Bali Investment Coordinating Board (BPMD) said.