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Roads Before Runways in Bali

Denpasar Tourism Leader Insists Bali Needs a North-South Toll Way Before Even Considering a New North Bali Airport.

(5/7/2011) Bisnis Bali suggest that plans now being discussed to build a second international airport in Bali's north are certain to confront many impediments, not least of which will be connected with a lack of adequate infrastructure.

The head of Denpasar's Tourism Service, Putu Budiasa, told the press that before any plans are made for a new "airport of the north" the government must first construct a toll way connecting the north and south of the island. Budiasa said a toll way transecting the island is far more important than the building of the proposed new airport. In his view, the subject toll way would optimize the development of tourism in the north by providing a fast and efficient connection over the distance of some 80 kilometers separating Denpasar and Singaraja. Such a road would make the travel-time north to south shrink for its current 3-4 hours to a mere 1.5 hours or less.

He also expressed his doubt that another airport, located only 80 kilometers away from the current international airport ,would prove attractive to airlines, threatening the possible success of the new air gateway for Bali.

He also felt that the proposed "airport of the north" raises a number of problematic development issues. While the construction of a new airport is controlled by the Ministry of Transportation, the individual airlines have the sole right to determine where they want to fly. If the new airport is built prematurely, he predicts there is certain to arise a difference of opinion between the Ministry of Transportation and the airline companies  who will still prefer the existing Ngurah Rai Airport  leaving the government unable to do much to influence or compel airlines to start flying to the more remote airport in the north.

Budiasa underlined that the construction of a toll way north to south is a far more pressing priority than the building of a new airport. Tourist arriving at Ngurah Rai International Airport would be enabled, via the new highway, to quickly access the north and this would, over time, see the tourism facilities on the northern part of the island naturally develop and expand.

He also warned that the current lack of supporting hotels and accommodation in the north would make airlines reluctant to disembark passengers in that locale while Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport in the south remained an option.