By Siti Rahil
DILI, Oct. 31 (Kyodo News) — A Singaporean businessman plans to
build the first luxury resort in East Timor, a move that could
boost the tourism dream of Asia’s newest country as it struggles
to develop its fledgling oil-based economy, officials said this
Malaysia-based Edward Ong will invest about $250 million to
build the resort on a sprawling site in the country’s capital
Dili, East Timor’s minister for tourism, commerce and industry
said in an interview with Kyodo News.
A basic agreement for the project was signed between Ong and the
Timorese government earlier this month, Gil Alves said.
The resort will be built between two ridges in Taci Tolu on the
coast of western Dili and will have a five-star hotel with about
350 rooms, a 27-hole golf course set amid lakes, and a business
”This will be the first five-star hotel in East Timor,” Alves
The resort is expected to bring new job opportunities for the
country that is still struggling to achieve stability since
independence from Indonesia in 2002.
The country’s unemployment rate is at 40 percent.
Alves estimated about 2,000 workers will be needed for
construction of the resort, which, when ready, will employ about
Ong is well known for having successfully developed the Sutera
Harbour luxury resort in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of East
Malaysia in Sabah. The resort has two five-star hotels offering
nearly 1,000 rooms and a 27-hole golf course.
In a telephone interview, Ong confirmed that a master-plan has
been done and the resort in East Timor could be completed by
He said the resort will initially target business travelers as
more businesses are now heading to East Timor to look for
But he also sees a big potential for tourism in the longer run.
”We feel there’s lot of potential, but it may take longer than
we expect. It’s a virgin place that people have not explored
yet,” Ong said.
The resort will have its own power plant and a water treatment
facility and the business park will cater to businesses facing
difficulty finding office space due to the country’s poor
Alves said Ong has also expressed interest in expanding the
resort in a second phase that could boost the number of rooms to
The proposed resort will be near the former center where
Japanese peacekeeping troops helped train locals in the use of
vehicles for construction several years ago, Alves said.
East Timor is trying to build infrastructure to support tourism,
which is one of the industries it is planning to grow as to
avoid over-dependence on the country’s oil and gas resources.
The country is home to one of the world’s most beautiful scuba
It hopes to complete the expansion of its airport in two years,
lengthening the runway from 1.8 to 3.3 kilometers to accommodate
Currently there are only three air routes to the country — from
Denpasar on the Indonesian island Bali, from Darwin in Australia
and more recently from Singapore.
Terjemahan (atas jasa “Kataku”):
Joyo Indonesia News Service