Thursday, January 22, 2009

Benoa all set to welcome cruise ships this year

Now in the last stages of construction, the Benoa port upgrade, to support turn-around services for cruise ships that meet international standards, should be ready to berth ships soon, state-owned PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) III said.

"If all parties *including local tourism businesses* are in agreement, we can begin receiving cruise ships into Benoa port this year,"

Pelindo III general manager Bambang Priyanto said after a meeting Monday with Bali's provincial legislative council (DPRD) and the city administration.

Benoa port has been upgrading its infrastructure since late 2007 to expand its services beyond its longtime role as a cargo and refueling port.

The government has reportedly been trying to outfi t the port with hotels, landscaped gardens, trade centers and other upscale passenger-port facilities.

The development plans behind Benoa's expansion, which included setting aside two hectares of land at the port, have not been fi nalized. But Pelindo III is apparently not waiting for these facilities to be fully operational before scheduling cruise ships to stay overnight.

He said starting up the facility would enhance Bali's popularity as a tourist spot, citing the island's strategic location as a bridge between the continent of Asia and Australia.

The distance between Benoa and Singapore is 1,488 kilometers, from Benoa to Darwin, 1,550.

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