The Timor-Leste Council of Ministers has approved a plan to develop an international-standard marina complex in the heart of the capital, Dili.  USAID’s Tourism For All project has been working with the government, the port authority and technical experts for the past two years to craft the proposal for a public-private partnership that will see the transformation of the current commercial shipping port into a tourism hub. The 50+ million-dollar project will revitalize the extensive waterfront area in the city centre, integrating marine and urban transport with cultural, recreational and residential facilities.

The Public-Private Partnership model is designed to leverage public assets and the commercial and operational strengths of the private sector. This milestone in Timor-Leste’s tourism development shows how the government, the private sector, and development partners can work together for the collective good.  Once completed the project will have a dynamic impact on Timor-Leste’s economic development, stimulating investment and investor confidence, as well as improving quality of life of its citizens and offering an exciting tourism experience to visitors.

The Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Mr Jose Agustinho da Silva expressed his appreciation: “We greatly appreciate the Dili Port Redevelopment and Commercialization project, which will serve to diversify Timor-Leste’s economy and help us to move away from dependency on the petroleum sector”.

The development will include the creation of a variety of tourism-related waterfront facilities for visiting cruise ships and yachts, whale-watching and dive boats, as well as serving as a terminal for local ferry services. The plan includes a dedicated area for passenger processing, immigration and customs, accessed by a pedestrian bridge, with ample parking and loading facilities. A marina will provide moorings for small and medium-sized vessels and allow for safe and easy embarkation of passengers and loading luggage, supplies and equipment.

Conceptual Design for the Dili Port Port Redevelopment and Commercialization Project (c. USAID’s Tourism For All Project)

The design concept aims to prioritise pedestrian movement throughout and around the development scheme, linking with footpaths along the waterfront and giving easy access to public transport, making provision for the future use of low-emission vehicles. The development will also provide greater resilience to the effects of climate change: all of the water frontage will be raised by one meter to protect against storm surge and flooding. Overall, the project aims to integrate modern architecture and construction techniques whilst preserving the Timor-Leste cultural identity.

Dili Port is also intended to serve as a tourism destination in itself, with boutique hotels, restaurants, cafes and handicraft retail outlets, whilst acting as a hub for tour itineraries connecting attractions such as Mount Ramelau, Atauro Island and places of interest in Dili. Tour and dive companies will have the option of providing booking facilities in this strategic location, whilst a tourism information centre will be incorporated into the plan.  The inclusion of residential and general retail units will create a new community, revitalizing the city centre. There will be pedestrian-friendly zones with spaces for cultural performances, exhibitions and public gardens, for all to enjoy.

For residents of Dili, the waterfront development would provide employment and commercial opportunities, with beneficial economic effects radiating throughout the city centre, stimulating urban development around the site.  It will also be a showcase for Timor-Leste’s tourism offering in the international marketplace, capitalizing on the country’s growing reputation for world-class marine tourism and serving as a gateway to the interior.

The downtown site will be available for redevelopment once the new commercial port in Tibar becomes operational. Following the ministerial approval, further technical work will be undertaken prior to offering the project for international tender in 2023. This process will include a feasibility study, final selection of the development option, financing and partnership model, and infrastructure design, followed by tender development, promotion and issuance.  The Dili Port Site Redevelopment and Commercialization project is expected to serve as a model for a number of future developments of state-owned sites with tourism potential, which are also in the pipeline.

Source: USAID’s Tourism For All Project