`Imlek’ brings more foreign visitors, Association says

Ni Komang ErvianiTHE JAKARTA POST ,  DENPASAR   |  Thu, 01/15/2009 5:03 PM  |  Bali

The number of foreign visitors to Bali is estimated to increase to 6,000 per day by the end of January as more foreign tourists of Chinese origin travel to the island to celebrate their traditional New Year of Imlek.

On normal days Bali receives 5,000 foreign tourists per day.

“A large number of the visitors arriving at the end of January will come from China and Hong Kong,” head of the Bali chapter of the Indonesia Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) Aloysius Purwa said Wednesday.

The surge of foreign tourists, Purwa said, would boost the occupancy rate of the island’s hotels to 80 percent. “The average length of stay of Chinese and Hong Kong tourists during Imlek holiday is two or three days,” he said.

So far, the flights from those regions to Bali have been fully booked.

“Some tourists from China have chartered private flights to come to Bali,” he said.

Villa Mahapala’s general manager, Jeffrey Wibisono shared Purwa’s optimism although at a more moderate level.

“We estimate the occupancy rate during Imlek will reach 50 percent; hopefully the number will keep increasing in the coming weeks,” he said.

The company operates 20 units of luxurious villas in Sanur and caters to mostly Korean and Chinese tourists.

Head of Bali Tourism Board (BTB), IB Ngurah Wijaya said Bali was still one of the most favorite destinations for Chinese visitors wanting to celebrate Imlek away from home.

Separately, head of Bali Tourism Agency, I Gede Nurjaya urged the local administration to welcome the surge of Chinese visitors by improving their infrastructures, particularly since the island has entered the rainy season and has just experienced massive flooding in some of its prominent tourist spots.

“Heavy rain and strong winds usually take place during Imlek holidays and the administrations should anticipate the possibility of natural disasters. If flooding takes place during the time of a surge in visitors, then Bali will receive negative appraisals,” he said.

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