Indonesia welcomes first cruise ship since lockdown

After two years of travel restriction, Indonesia is finally going to welcome back cruise ships.  On September 17, for the first time in two years, Laperouse, a 130 meters long cruise ship with 70 tourists onboard travelling from Australia, will dock at Bali.  Before Bali, the ship was at the Port of Kalabahi, East Nusa Tenggara.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, the Indonesian government has closed the borders and barred foreign tourists in a bid to stop the virus from spreading.  In recent months, however, with Covid-19 turning endemic and infection rate going down, the authority has reopened the borders to tourist to rejuvenate the tourism sector. 

Indonesia welcomes first cruise ship since lockdown
Laperouse ship. Photo credit: Wolfgang Berthe, IMO department of public information.

Prasetyo, director of Indonesian port strategy, Pelindo, said: “Indonesia is going to again welcome large-scale foreign tourist arrivals. The arrival of Laperouse is very important for us, considering that we just opened up tourism and this is the first cruise ship we have in two years. Hopefully, more cruise ships will arrive soon.”

Pelindo, the state-owned port operator, has engaged actively with all stakeholders, seeking feedback and suggestions, to boost maritime tourism. For 2022, Pelindo has confirmed 39 cruise ship visits and for 2023, 125 confirmed visits.

For Laperouse’s arrival, Pelindo has, since two weeks ago, coordinated closely with Benline Shipping Agents and Tour Operators Cruise Asia, to ensure a smooth docking and arrival.  Pelindo wanted all the tourists to feel safe and welcomed.  

Benline thinks Indonesia can be at the forefront of maritime tourism.  Matt Joly from Benline said: “On the occasion of the arrival of Laperouse, this is a milestone for Indonesia and we will do our best to make sure everything is running ok.  We want to make Indonesia the number one for cruise ship visit in Asia.”

Benoa beach. Photo credit: Anak Agung August Perdana

The Cruise Ship Tourism Program, under the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, runs from July to the end of the year.  Minister Sandiaga Uno said beside Bali, the program, with all new rules and regulations in place to help facilitate cruise ship tourism, will be extended to Batam, Bintan Island, Surabaya, Belitung, Labuan Bajo, and Bau-Bau (Southeast Sulawesi).

Sandiaga exhorted all stakeholders to make sure all related infrastructure is ready to receive foreign tourists. In the meantime, Pelindo is working to improve inter-island connectivity to attract tourists to stay longer and visit more islands.  Arif Suhartono, president director of Pelindo, said it is a priority to invest in the development of more port infrastructure and connectivity so that Indonesia can compete in the global stage.

Suhartono added that as an archipelagic country, the maritime and port sectors are key to Indonesia’s economic growth and it makes sense to invest in developing all related infrastructure.  Indonesia is an important maritime hub in the region and Pelindo, moving ahead, will invest in occupational safety and health, sustainability, latest technology, and world-class training, Suhartono said.

Top photo credit: Pixabay/ floramarc

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