Welcome to the popular Indonesian resort island you’ve probably never heard of.
It’s got beaches said to rival the Maldives, tropical rainforest and high-end resorts, yet Bintan Island remains relatively unknown among Australian tourists.
Just a 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore, it is an emerging destination, particularly among Asian visitors.
While the bulk of the island’s visitors are Singaporean, there’s also been big growth in Chinese (up by 40 per cent) and Indian tourists (up 10 per cent) in recent years.
And although Aussies, for the most part, are yet to catch on to the island’s appeal, we can expect to hear more about it as the Indonesian Government ups the ante to attract tourists from further afield, according to Bintan Resorts executive director Gianto Gunara.
“Bintan Resorts is a major international gateway into Indonesia and going forward we will play an increasingly larger role in contributing to Indonesia’s tourism goal of 20 million tourists by the year 2020,” Gunara says.
With the growing interest in the island has come major development plans, with several new resorts springing up and a dozen more due to open in the next few years, as well as an international airport expected to open next year.
Attractions include a 6.3ha man-made lagoon water sports playground — South-East Asia’s first and largest recreational seawater body that has undergone a process to make the seawater “crystal clear” — and a Gary Player designed golf course.
And one of the world’s oldest passenger ships, Doulos Phos, has been relocated to the island, with a multimillion-dollar makeover set to see it converted into a museum and hotel.