JAKARTA, presidentpost.com – Banyuwangi Airport is expected to serve international flights in 2019, in a bid to attract more tourists from overseas.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said the central government has been encouraging Banyuwangi to develop its tourism. The regency, nicknamed The Sunrise of Java, has the three criteria as a prerequisite to be a major destination, namely world-class tourist attractions, complete supporting amenities, and easy accessibility.
“To become an international destination we have to open international flights,” said Arief after the ceremony of inaugural flight of Citilink’s Jakarta-Banyuwangi on Thursday (2/15).
According to Arief, Banyuwangi’s achievement in attracting tourists is quite fantastic. The number of domestic tourists jumped to 4.01 million in 2016 from 397,000 in 2010, while the foreign tourists rose from 5,205 (2010) to 91,000 (2017) with foreign exchange earnings of Rp546 billion.
“It’s very good, almost 100,000 foreign tourists a year; that’s amazing for relatively new tourism destination. In Sumatra there is nothing like this, except Riau. Here we see great opportunities to open international routes to attract more and more foreign tourists,” said Arief.
He added the countries, that have the potential to open direct flights to, are Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Banyuwangi, said Arief, also has an excellent momentum to upgrade its airport to international level. In October 2018 there will be the annual meeting of IMF and World Bank in Bali, where thousands of delegates from all over the world will come. Some delegates will land and park their aircrafts at the Banyuwangi Airport.
“It’s a magnificent momentum. Banyuwangi has prepared tour packages and the ministry fully supports it,” said Arief.
President Director of PT Angkasa Pura II (managing company of Banyuwangi Airport) M. Awaluddin said he has been exploring the opportunity to cooperate with international airlines. One of them is Jetstar, a Singaporean airline.
“Jetstar has surveyed in the field. I am surprised that they are interested, asking for some additional facilities needed at an international airport, especially the immigration counters,” he explained.
Angkasa Pura II has invested Rp400 billion for the runway extension and apron expansion to make the airport get international status.
“Initially we would spend Rp300 billion, but considering the prospect of Banyuwangi we increased it to Rp400 billion. Later in 2019 the runway will be extended further to 2,800 meters with the width to be 45 meters from currently 30 meters,” said Awaluddin.
Banyuwangi Regent Azwar Anas added he will expand the collaboration with various parties to provide the international flights. “We will push a lot of things, because accessibility is the key to promote tourism as well as to improve the people’s economy,” he said. (DTK/TPP)