This year’s Christmas holidays have been the busiest on the island since 2018. Though the bad weather has affected the number of visits to Bali’s beaches, the holidays have been far from a washout. Bali has seen a steep rise in the number of tourism arrivals, both domestic and international, by air and by sea.
Management for I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport has confirmed that the airport has welcomed on average, 56,000 people per day from 19th December to the 27th, with even more arriving in the hours running up to New Year’s Eve itself.
The General Manager of Angkasa Pura’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawa, told reporters, “Flights during the Nataru period did experience an increase, when compared to normal traffic. The condition has increased by around 15 percent for domestic flights and 8 percent for international flights”.
He continued to share predictions for the number of passengers the airport will have received by the end of the year. He said, “Until the end of 2022, we predict that Ngurah Rai Airport will serve 12 million passengers with quite busy air traffic during this Nataru period. We are optimistic that we can achieve this target”.
This is staggering considering this time last year, Indonesia’s borders were closed for tourism, and Bali had just experienced its worst year for tourism for decades.
In a nod to a viral video shared online of queues at Bali Airport on Christmas Eve, the Airport Manager said, “With the current increase in movements, we always provide convenience for service users on international routes, such as providing special lanes in the KKP and Immigration counter areas (WNI, KITAS, KITAP, PMI, e-VOA), as well as digitizing travel documents by there is the application of the Electronic Visa on Arrival (e-VOA), and the Customs area in the form of the implementation of the Electronic Customs Declaration (e-ECD)”.
With the surge in the number of arrivals for the Christmas and New Year holidays, other officials in Bali are working around the clock to ensure that traffic congestion doesn’t bring the whole island to a standstill. Many security forces across Bali have also been increasing their patrols and surveillance over the Nataru holidays to ensure that public safety and order are maintained.
At a press conference earlier this week, Badung Police Chief AKBP Leo Dedy Defretes said that his teams are taking steps to anticipate all possibilities that could disturb public peace. AKBP Defretes said he and his teams are looking ahead to New Year’s Eve, following a safe Christmas Day.
“After successfully securing Christmas celebrations in 42 churches within the jurisdiction of the Badung Police, we are concentrating on securing the new year. During the Christmas celebration, there is no disturbing activity. This year’s Christmas security involves Pecalang and Banser [community security], in addition to agencies that have security responsibilities, such as the TNI, Satpol PP, and others.”
The issue of traffic is front and center of public discussion once again. Officials in Bali, previously concerned that the impact of Covid-19 could ruin the tourism sector, are raising concerns that the prolific traffic on the island could deter future travelers. Local senator Putu Supadma Rudana spoke up in a district meeting to share his concerns about traffic congestion and what needs to be done to solve it.
Rudana said, “The threat [to tourism] is not from competing areas in the archipelago which we are referred to as ‘New Bali’. The most real threat at hand is congestion, which is currently happening everywhere. If this is allowed, there is no anticipation Bali will be abandoned by tourists,” He noted that the existing public transport facilities were a good start but that these transportation options alone could not solve the issues across Bali.
Ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebrations, traffic police have set up additional traffic management posts across Badung Regency to help reduce congestion. Tourists are reminded that at this especially busy time of year, it is advisable to allow for even more travel time than usual.
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