The second Lombok Tourism Development Forum recently concluded with developers and investors expressing optimism for the future of tourism in Lombok. The Forum was attended by large-scale hotel and resort residential investors in Lombok, heads of leading hotels on the island, as well as existing hotel and land principals; all eager to understand recent market performance, exchange ideas/experiences and to contemplate Lombok’s future as a premier international resort destination.
The Forum began with Tourism Solutions International (TSI) presenting a Lombok market update, outlining its expectations of strong long-term growth. Current estimates project hotel supply to more than double by 2022, with larger developments in South Lombok comprising the majority of upcoming top-tier supply. Development in the traditional northern area of Lombok will continue as several projects are well underway today. In 2015 Lombok experienced a decrease in international airlift (and room night demand), coupled with an increase in resort supply which resulted in a short-term supply imbalance. Significantly, room night demand (Q1 2016) for top-tier resorts increased seven percent over the same period in 2015 and occupancies are expected to exceed 70 percent in 2016.
Makes & Partners Law followed this market update with a presentation, covering various legal issues and regulations pertaining to hospitality investment in Lombok.
General Managers from six leading hotels in Lombok addressed pressing issues on the years’ performance, and opened the floor to questions and discussion regarding the market outlook. Optimism was clear, following a challenging 2015, that the market has shown signs of recovery already in 2016 and that demand was up year-to-date.
“South Lombok isn’t doing badly. We have seen a shift in geographic markets but performance this year has been good. What is needed now is the addition of ‘destination resorts’ to attract more arrivals to Lombok and the validity of Lombok as a leading resort destination” stated Charles Choi, General Manager of Novotel Lombok, citing the upcoming planned developments within the Mandalika project.
Domique Duvivier, General Manager of Sheraton Sengigi Beach Resort in northern Lombok, agreed “Our second semester is looking good”, adding that increased investment through both domestic and international brands is good for tourism growth looking forward. “Hopefully with the addition of new hotels, hotels coming in can join hands to market Lombok as ‘one island’ and ‘one destination’. Additional marketing with the Gili Islands can help boost Lombok even more.”
“It’s a good thing for different brand and products to be available in Lombok, it elevates it as a destination. People will come to Lombok to see the island, not just to stay at a specific hotel.” said Imran Sultan, Hotel Manager at The Oberoi Lombok.
Mehdi Tabka from Living Asia Resort, noted that Lombok was already on the right path. “Lombok has a good reputation for hotels recognised in Indonesia. It’s amazing that with so few hotels on the island, so many of them achieve recognition for being the wi by sources such as Tripadvisor.” He further agreed with the shift in geographic source of visitor arrivals to the island, but maintained optimistic that demand will continue to grow. “Lead time has reduced this year, we are picking up many more last-minute bookings”, implying that more tourists are coming to Lombok without planning months in advance, which is a sign that access and awareness of Lombok is good.
Comparing the development of Lombok to that of Bali, Alexander Jovanovic, Director Development- Hotels and Resorts for Trans Resorts, agreed that huge potential is right around the corner. “The need to share information is crucial as there are so many aspects of different hotels that can attract tourists to Lombok. Lombok can take an example of Bali, and learn from the behaviour patterns, which are very similar”.
“With limited research in the market,” said TSI Managing Director Eric Levy, “we decided gathering a number of people ‘in the know’ would provide the initiative to leading more industry people to review the market and make available their views on the potential and keys to the sustainable evolution of tourism in Lombok.”
The Lombok Forum was held at the island’s most recognized resort, a recent World Travel Awards winner for Best Resort Indonesia, Qunci Villas, located on Mangsit Beach. The event included a dinner prepared by award winning Tuscan-inspired Chef Gianluca Visciglia,