BINTAN Resorts International, the Indonesia-Singapore company charged with developing and managing tourism properties along a stretch of Bintan, hopes to woo more visitors to the island with new attractions and better infrastructure.
It wants to grow the number of visitors to the 23,000-ha section of Bintan under its control from about 400,000 now to 1 million by 2015. It also plans to increase the number of rooms from 1,300 to more than 5,000 over that time.
To do this, Bintan Resorts, a fully owned subsidiary of Singapore-listed Gallant Venture, will introduce several major projects and initiatives. Gallant Venture counts Singapore conglomerate SembCorp Industries and Indonesia's Salim Group among its shareholders.
Today, most Bintan Resorts guests are from abroad, with major markets being Japan, South Korea and the UK. Almost all of these visitors now fly into Changi Airport, then board a high-speed ferry at the Tanah Merah terminal for Bintan. They are also likely to spend a day or two in Singapore before or after their Bintan sojourn.
But this could soon change, as plans for a new private airport on Bintan island have just been approved by the Indonesian authorities. The airport, which is currently in the planning and development stage, will serve mainly planes flying domestic and regional routes.
Bintan Resorts also plans to start a new daily sea-plane service from Singapore's Seletar Airport to the island. The idea is still awaiting approval from the Indonesian authorities, but Bintan Resorts executive director Chia Tek Yew expects the service to start next year. The ferry service is also being spruced up.
Besides more and better points of entry, there will also be more reasons to visit Bintan, which is already home to hospitality groups such as Banyan Tree, Club Med and Angsana.
In addition, Bintan Resorts is now developing the 1,300-ha Lagoi Bay project within its stretch of Bintan. Lagoi Bay, a master-planned development, will comprise homes, resorts and retail shops. The move marks a shift in Bintan Resorts' strategy.
"In the past, what we did was sell large chunks of land to developers and resort operators and let them develop the land," Mr Chia said. "Now we are selling smaller parcels of land within a development that we are doing the master planning for."
Bintan Resorts has already started marketing two residential projects within Lagoi Bay.
In the group's 162-unit Pantai Indah residential project, 10 of the 26 homes released in the first phase have been sold so far. The homes come with an initial lease of 35 years, with an option to extend for a further 50 years. The group has also sold nine plots of land on which homes can be built with similar leases.
Lagoi Bay will also be home to hotels and villas for visitors to stay in, as well as retail shops built in a village style. Bintan Resorts also has plans for a water theme park and an eco-adventure park within Lagoi Bay, Mr Chia said.
His company still has a lot to do once Lagoi Bay is up in 2015, as two-thirds of the land allocated to Bintan Resorts is still undeveloped.
In the meantime, the group will focus on upgrading the infrastructure on the island. "What we have to do throughout is continuously upgrade or scale up our infrastructure and utilities," Mr Chia said.