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Aussie dollars paying for ‘ten new Balis’ in Indonesian tourism boom

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 17/08/2017 A Current Affair

Indonesia is planning "ten new Balis" as part of a hoped-for tourism boom, and Australian tax dollars are helping to pave the way.

The government is providing funding for the initiative through the World Bank.

The sites for the proposed developments are among some of Indonesia's most striking areas, such as Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java and Mandalika in Lombok.

A full $3 billion of infrastructure has been dedicated to the Mandalika project, including the construction of more than 10,500 hotel rooms, a theme park and a solar power plant.

Australia's contribution is comparatively minimal.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson told A Current Affair that through the Indonesian Infrastructure Support Trust Fund, Australia had provided US$2.75 million ($3.51 million) of official development assistance.

"This support funds initial feasibility studies and master plans for a number of priority tourism destinations," the spokesperson said.

"The Australian development program has not paid for tourism-specific infrastructure or the marketing of Indonesia as a tourism destination."

Australian Traveller co-founder Quentin Long is a supporter of the ambitious project and said Australia's investment would benefit both countries.

"Obviously the more Indonesia is modernised and the more Indonesia develops, the better for Australia in several ways," he said.

"A wealthy neighbour to our north will help local industry as well."

A draft document from the World Bank indicates the Indonesian government's desire to increase tourism from four percent to 20 percent of their GDP in a five-year period, and to boost international arrivals from nine million to 20 million people.

However, members of Australia's own tourism industry have suggested the government should do more to help local tourism.

Eurobadalla Shire Council Mayor Liz Innes represents an area in southern coastal New South Wales that includes areas such as Narooma, Moruya and Batemans Bay.

Tourism is the biggest industry in the region, and Cr Innes said the money the Australian government had provided in support of the Indonesian project could have been put to good use locally.

"I'm thinking water parks, I'm thinking we could see some substantial investment in some of the hotels we have," she said.

Senator Pauline Hanson, who said she had no intention to ever visit Bali, also urged the government to put more money into local tourism.

"Our tourist industry is flagging, we've got a lot of problems here," she said.

"We need the money here in Australia."

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