Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – Indonesian authorities are making final preparations to host the country's first MotoGP race since 1997 in the resort island of Lombok where spectators will outnumber the available accommodation.
The Pertamina Mandalika International Circuit can house 200,000 people but Lombok has only around 16,000 hotel rooms.
"During the initial sales, 63,000 tickets including the VIP class were sold out immediately on January 6. We plan to sell more tickets online so that a total of 100,000 seats will be booked in the build-up to the race in March," Hadi Tjahjanto, the field commander of the event, said in a recent gathering with a number of media companies.
"And I need to inform you that all regular flights to Lombok on March 18 through 20 are already fully booked," he added.
The former Indonesian Military chief also said Lombok International Airport will receive over 21,000 arrivals every day before and during the event, a quadruple number than normal days.
The organizers are facing the gigantic task of providing accommodation for the international event. Homestay and tourist spot owners are encouraged to open at maximum capacity for more rooms.
"We will deploy cruise ships and ferries belonging to Pelni to add accommodation on coastal areas," Hadi said, referring to the state-owned sea transportation company.
Some of the visitors including foreigners may stay in nearby Bali Island and come to Lombok on race day on ferries or shuttle flights.
The first test comes on February 7 when all MotoGP riders and teams will arrive for pre-season tests, although the number of arrivals won't reach a burdensome level.
Hadi said there will be a major rehearsal for air, sea, and land traffic management two weeks before the March 20 race day to get the island fully prepared for an extraordinary surge in arrivals.
The construction of the grandstand, VIP village, race control room, and electricity supplies has been completed.
But the Ministry of Public Works is still working on road extension to the circuit and an observation deck scheduled for completion on March 14, Hadi said.
Riders and crew members will be subject to the travel bubble policy because they won't meet the mandatory five-day quarantine from their arrival on February 7 to the first day of the test on the 11th.
They all will be isolated from any public event and strictly guarded upon arrival from the immigration checkpoints to their hotels, which will be "sterilized" two days prior to check-in, Hadi said.
The brand new circuit has successfully held its inaugural international grand prix in November when it hosted the World Superbike final round, but Indonesian authorities expect the volume of arrivals to triple in the upcoming MotoGP race.
"MotoGP is a display of our accomplishment at the global stage because it has a huge number of fans in Indonesia and around the world," Information and IT Minister Johnny Plate said.
"In addition, we are going to host the G-20 Summit and related events throughout the year, so yes 2022 is a very busy year for us. Both events become the major national agenda and we must ensure a great success."
The Indonesian round will become the second race in the 2022 MotoGP calendar after Qatar.