Lombok island, one of the two main islands that make up the West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. It is part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, separated from Bali to the west by the Lombok Strait and Sumbawa, the other main island in West Nusa Tenggara, to the east by the Alas Strait. The whole of Lombok island measures approximately 4,739 square kilometres. With a population of about 3.2 million, Lombok is the 7th most populous island in Indonesia. The island is divided into four regencies: West Lombok, North Lombok, Central Lombok and East Lombok. Strategically located near major tourism destinations such as Bali, Lombok is a tourism destination in the making.
Lombok island possesses a wealth of attractive characteristics that are favorable for the development of tourism. For instance, the island’s distinctive cultural mosaic, which is a blend of the main Sasak culture alongside Balinese, Javanese and other minority cultures, positions the destination as a miniature Indonesian archipelago where tourists can experience multiple cultures that are unique to the country. In addition, the island’s beautiful natural landscapes, especially the famous Mount Rinjani and its long stretches of pristine beaches, are major tourist attractions.
Furthermore, the island’s stunning natural features draw tourists for activities such as diving, rafting, climbing and caving. Lombok’s major tourism centers are highlighted in the following paragraphs:
- Mataram is the largest city in Lombok island and the capital of the West Nusa Tenggara province. The city is situated within the West Lombok Regency and lies on the western side of the island. It measures around 61 square kilometres and has a population of approximately 413,000 inhabitants. There are three main districts within the city: Ampenan (to the west), Mataram (centre) and Cakranegara (to the east).
- Ampenan is located closest to the coastal areas and is home to the now-defunct Selaparang Airport. Mataram is the administrative centre where government departments, offices, educational institutions and other important services are concentrated. Cakranegara is the major commercial centre where Mataram Mall, the only shopping mall on the island, and other shopping facilities are located.
- The Senggigi region is the main tourist strip in Lombok island that stretches out over several kilometres along the west coast. It is located within the West Lombok Regency and lies just north of the capital Mataram. The whole area is interspersed with pockets of tourism developments and stretches of open undeveloped land, and is served by a two-lane coastal road that runs through three main districts: Batu Bolong (to the south), Senggigi (centre) and Mangsit (to the north).
- Batu Bolong is the gateway to Senggigi and has a wide range of hotels, restaurants and nightlife establishments. The central Senggigi area is a hive of activity and has a concentration of relatively large-scale four-and five-star hotels such as Santosa Villas & Resort and Sheraton Senggigi. Mangsit is generally less developed, but has several well-established hotels that are located along the long stretches of tranquil beaches. On the whole, the focus of Batu Bolong and Mangsit is more on the beachfront hotels whereas the central Senggigi area has an additional element of vibrancy and street feel. Despite the rapid growth of other tourist destinations in Lombok in recent years, Senggigi still remains as a popular port of call, especially among international tourists.
- Tanjung is a developing tourist destination in Lombok and the administrative capital of the new North Lombok Regency. It is located on the northwest coast of the island and is accessible via a long winding two-lane coastal road that circumnavigates the entire north region. It also lies at the foot of Mount Rinjani, the third highest mountain in Indonesia and one of the most popular trekking destinations in Southeast Asia. The area and the two nearby peninsulas, Medana and Sire, are home to some of Lombok’s luxury resorts such as The Oberoi Lombok and Hotel Tugu Lombok.
- Kuta is a coastal town in the south of Lombok island and a tourism hotspot. It is located within the Central Lombok Regency and lies on the south coast of the island. With the opening of the new Lombok International Airport near Praya, Kuta is now a convenient 30-minute drive from the airport. While Kuta has a wide variety of accommodations and restaurants that cater to tourists, ranging from the four-star Novotel Lombok to backpacker lodges, the area has retained most of its natural, laid back character.
- Gili Islands – The famous Gili Islands, which consist of Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno, are among the most popular tourist destinations in Lombok. The islands are located just off the northwest tip of Lombok Island. Out of the three islands, Gili Trawangan is the largest and the most visited. The island is also home to a variety of accommodations and restaurants, including luxury hotels such as Villa Ombak and Queen Villa. While there has been increasing development and influx of tourists over the years, the focal activities on Gili Islands remain the same as tourists continue to visit the three islands for the purpose of diving, snorkeling and partying.
As Lombok is primarily a tourism destination, developed infrastructure is mostly concentrated in the major tourism centers such as Senggigi, as well as the city area. However, the past few years have witnessed improvements in infrastructure across the island. This is largely due to the overall growth of Lombok as a destination and the investment from the provincial government.
- Road – Major improvements have been done to the road infrastructure to increase island wide connectivity. Roads have been added or repaved, replacing existing pot-holed roads or dirt roads that are common outside of the tourist areas. Specifically, with the opening of the new Lombok International Airport in central Lombok, the road network around the area has been enhanced and this has greatly increased the connectivity between the major tourism centers in the northwest region, the airport and the new tourism growth areas along the south coast.
- Electricity Supply – The expansion of electricity capacity and distribution are being fast-tracked to cope with the increasing demands. Two more coal-fired power plants are expected to be operational by the end of 2013, adding to the existing 25-megawatt power plant in Jeranjang and doubling Lombok’s current capacity. In addition, a high-voltage electricity transmission network is being laid out around the island. The network, which stretches up to about 300 kilometres, is expected to be fully established before 2016.
- Water Supply – Water mains have been added to the Kuta region, in view of the impending development of the Mandalika Resort in the south of Lombok. In general, water supply network has largely been established in major tourism centers such as Senggigi and the Gili Islands. However, the regions outside of these tourist areas, especially in the southern part of the island, still face recurring water problems during the dry season, due to a lack of clean water supply. In 2010, the Indonesian Government has announced plans for the construction of the estimated US$92-million Pandanduri Dam project in East Lombok. The project, which is expected to be completed by 2014, is primarily aimed at improving water supply in water critical areas in the southern part of the island.
- Telecommunication Network – Telecommunication towers have also been erected throughout the island, providing a wide coverage of phone and internet connectivity.
- Airport Statistics & Accessibility – Lombok International Airport is the main international gateway to Lombok island and the only fully operational airport on the island. It commenced operation on 1 October 2011, replacing the Selaparang Airport. The new airport is located south of the city of Praya, central Lombok. It is approximately 40 kilometres south of the capital Mataram and 55 kilometres southeast of the popular tourist strip Senggigi.
- Seaport Accessibility– Besides the airport, the other main form of access to Lombok island is through sea transportation, particularly fast crafts and public ferries.
- Fast Crafts – There is an increasing number of licensed boat companies that operate direct fast craft services from Bali to Lombok or to the Gili Islands. From the Gili Islands, a range of connecting services is available for onward trips to mainland Lombok island.
- Public Ferries – There are currently two main harbours in Lombok island that facilitate public ferry services. The Lembar Harbour, which is located on the southwest coast, is the entry point for public ferries that ply the Bali-Lombok route. Due to the long journey time (approximately 3 to 4 hours) and the lack of accessibility from Lembar Harbour to other major tourism centers in the northwest of Lombok, few international tourists travel to Lombok via that option. Instead, the public ferry services are usually taken by local people for inter-island transport between Bali and Lombok island.
- The other harbour, Kayangan Port, is located in East Lombok and is the entry point for public ferries that ply the Sumbawa-Lombok route. Similar to the Lembar Harbour, the public ferry services that arrive at Kayangan Port primarily serve the local people.