Bali 1
Bali will impose a 150,000 rupiah ($10) tax on tourists to fund cultural preservation, starting next year Image Credit: Shutterstock

JAKARTA: Indonesia plans to start building a light rail transit system on the popular resort island of Bali next year to ease roadway congestion from the airport, a senior minister has said.

Tourist-dependent Bali attracts millions of foreign visitors annually and the beach-dotted island's narrow roads have been clogged with traffic jams since its reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said Thursday the light rail transit (LRT) system would be built underground and connect the island's international airport to popular tourist areas Canggu and Seminyak.

"LRT (in Bali) will be underground so traffic at Bali's airport... in 2025-2026 can be managed," he said in the capital Jakarta, according to local media reports.

He said the airport is expected to receive 24 million visitors annually by that time.

"If it's not being done, then in 2026 we can be stuck three hours at the airport," he told reporters.

The project, ordered by President Joko Widodo, had courted investment interest in Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing, he said.

"There are South Korea, Japan and China. We will take those who allow transfer of technology, fast and affordable," he said when asked who could help fund the project.

Bar some exceptions, buildings in Bali cannot be constructed over 15 metres (50 feet) in height, according to local laws.

A LRT was recently opened in Jakarta that Widodo said would help ease congestion in the megalopolis and lessen pollution.

Next week a Chinese-funded high-speed rail from Jakarta to the Javan city of Bandung will also launch.

In another planned move next year, Bali will impose a 150,000 rupiah ($10) tax on tourists to fund cultural preservation as the island tries to capitalise on its popularity and protect its tropical allure.