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Expand Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport Soon, Tourism Minister Urges
March 2nd, 2010

Denpasar. As the “gateway to paradise,” Bali’s Ngurah Rai Inter­national Airport should immediately be expanded, Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said on Sunday.

“Do not postpone it any longer, especially with the number of tourists visiting Bali increasing each year,” he said during the launch of a book, “Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, the Gateway to Paradise 1930-2010,” in Kuta.

He said he had received reports regarding proposals for the airport expansion design, including one that suggested employing a Balinese architectural design to differentiate it from other airports in the country.

The expanded airport is also planned to have fewer commercial areas, which the minister supported.

“If you want to shop, just go to Sukawati market, shop directly from the people,” said Jero, referring to the famous art market near Ubud.

Jero said he was optimistic the expansion of Ngurah Rai airport would attract more tourists to Bali and other destinations in Indonesia. In the past two months, he said, the number of tourists visiting Indonesia had increased by 3 percent to 4 percent over the same period last year.

However, the minister warned that the airport expansion must be complemented with an improvement of related services such as immigration, taxis and toilets.

“Remember, a survey stated that 70 percent of people who just get off a plane, the first thing they want is the toilet. Do not let people travel all the way from Europe and, once they get into Ngurah Rai Airport, they complain about the dirty toilets,” Jero said.

Bambang Darwoto, director of state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I, said the expansion project was still waiting for recommendations from the Bali governor and the head of Badung district. Their recommendations are a prerequisite to getting official permission from the minister of transportation.

“Once we get the approval, we will soon announce the tender, and a month after that we can start work,” he said.

The expansion, he said, will include international and domestic terminals and a number of other areas such as aprons and runways. It will cover 120,000 square meters with a cost of about Rp 1.7 trillion ($182 million).

With the expansion, the airport’s annual passenger-handling capacity will roughly double to about 20 million.

Bambang emphasized that the expansion of the airport would not encroach on people’s land, but would require the relocation of a housing complex for about 170 employees of PT Angkasa Pura.

As for supporting infrastructure such as roads, he said, it is the responsibility of the local government.

“The local governments must immediately think about it,” Bambang said.

“If the airport has been expanded, but the roads do not support it, there will be terrible traffic jams.”

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