Bintan Resorts International, a Singapore-based developer, plans to complete construction of a private airport on an island in western Indonesia by 2014, allowing visitors to fly in from other countries and stay at its resorts here.
The company has developed resorts that cover 18,000 hectares in the northern coast of Bintan Island, and the airport, which would start construction at the end of this year, provides a faster mode of transportation. Travel to the island from Singapore takes around an hour.
“We already have the license and location to build the private airport,” Frans G. Gunara, a director at Bintan Resorts, said on Tuesday. “The license would allow international flights to fly directly to Bintan.”
Almost 433,000 tourists — 17 percent of whom were Indonesian — visited Bintan last year, and those travelers used the Tanjung Pinang Airport, which is 90 minutes away by car from the main beach-front hotels in the resort area. The planned airport with 2.5-kilometer runway will be built in Lobam industrial area, which is about 25 minutes by car from the resort.
The airport would be able to receive large aircraft such as Boeing 737s or Airbus 320s and would welcome domestic chartered flights, private jets and the cargo needs of the industrial estate.
“Hopefully the facility would attract more visitors, such as those from Kuala Lumpur, Phuket [Thailand] or Hong Kong,” Frans said.
“At the moment visitors would have to spend half a day just to get to the Bintan resorts,” he explained, adding that ferry rides are now the fastest way to reach the resorts.
Bintan Resorts, which is also a subsidiary of Singapore-listed investment holding company Gallant Venture, manages five independently owned beach resorts, four designer golf courses and other recreational facilities.
The company plans to have 800,000 visitors from Indonesia and abroad to the resorts by 2014, and a million by 2015, it said in a statement. Gallant Venture would entirely fund the project and has set aside $60 million for the airport.
I Gede Pitana, head of resource development at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said Bintan didn’t target Indonesians but had a lot of weekend visitors from Singapore.
“Its development model is not for the domestic market,” I Gede said. “Still, the important thing is that it would generate tax income for Indonesia and increase the welfare of the people living within the area.”
Bintan Resorts, which operates in Indonesia through Bintan Resorts Cakrawala as the master developer, has been building up the area since the 1990s. The resort area was a collaborative initiative between the government of Indonesia and Singapore, and recognized as a free-trade zone since 2009, which gives special tax concession to encourage investment.
Gallant Venture is affiliated with the Salim group, one of Indonesia’s biggest conglomerates, with assets spread in various sectors, such as instant noodles, property, manufacturing and oil palm plantations.
Last year, the majority of Bintan Resorts’ overseas visitors came from Singapore, Korea, China and Japan.