Tourism remains strong at year’s end

Ni Komang Erviani , Contributor , The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Fri, 01/02/2009 10:29 AM | Bali

Niether the financial crisis nor the Australian travel warning stopped tourists from spending Christmas and New Year in Bali, as the island once again broke its own record for highest number of visitors.

According to a report by the Christmas and New Year holidays’ task force , as many as 133,705 tourists, both domestic and international, entered Bali via the Ngurah Rai International Airport between the 22 and 30 of Dec., an increase from 125,000 in the same period last year.

As many as 75,651 people passed through the domestic terminal, while 57,424 came on flights from overseas.

I Gede Ketut Astana, manager-in-duty at the airport, said the influx in tourists reached its peak on the 29th of Dec., when a total of 15,193 tourists, 8,479 of whom were domestic tourists and 6,714 were foreign tourists, arrived in the island.

“Apparently, despite the financial crisis, the numbers of foreign tourists remained high, especially from our main markets which are Japan, Korea, China and Australia,” Astana said Wednesday.

Domestic airlines responded to the high demand by adding an average of four flights a day during this year end holiday season, Astana said. During non-holiday seasons, the airport manages about 54 domestic flights per day.

He said international airlines did not add any extra flights to their regular number of 40 per day.

He said he expected the mass departure of domestic tourists this coming Friday and international tourists on Saturday.

Head of the Bali Tourism Agency, I Gde Nurjaya, confirmed that Bali remained a sought-after holiday destination this new year, citing an average hotel occupancy rate of 68 percent throughout Bali.

“Specifically, the hotels in Kuta, Nusa Dua and Sanur have been quite full, with an occupancy rate of over 80 percent. Some hotels were even overbooked,” he said.

He added that hotels in the northern and eastern areas of Bali, such as the Buleleng Regency and Karangasem Regency, however, were only about 60 percent occupied, which means that Bali’s tourism industry has not managed to lure tourists away from the famous destinations in southern Bali, such as Kuta.

“So I would like to urge the tourism businesses again, especially travel agencies, to help spread out the distribution of tourists in Bali more evenly,” he said.

“Because Bali is not just Kuta, Sanur or Nusa Dua. There are other interesting places they can find all throughout Bali.”

Meanwhile, Kuta beach was very crowded on the days leading to New Year’s Day.

Melinda, 28, a tourist from Surabaya, East Java, said she decided to visit Bali because it was perfect for vacationing.

“I love coming to Bali. There are beautiful places and all the souvenirs you can buy. Everything is here for you,” she said.

When asked whether she was worried about the security of the island, she was not worried.

“I’m not afraid. I’m certain that Bali is a safe place to be,” she said.

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