Business owners in Bali have told reporters that they are hopeful that direct flights from mainland China to Bali will resume in 2023. Travelers from mainland China have not yet been permitted to travel for tourism purposes to Indonesia, and business owners on the island are banking on that changing by early next year.
Before the pandemic, Bali welcomed over one million visitors from China annually. In 2018 the island received 1,363,963 travelers from China, and a further 1,185,519 million in 2019. The slight drop off in numbers in 2019 can be attributed to the early travel restrictions imposed in China at the outbreak of the pandemic.
Speaking to reporters, Wisnu Aribawa, who owns a travel business, explained that he hopes tourists from mainland China will be allowed to return by the Chinese New Year. During the Luna New Year Festival, there is typically a lull in arrivals to Bali from Europe, North America, and Australia.
Aribawa explained that the Chinese New Year holidays are an excellent opportunity for tourism businesses in Bali. He also shared his thoughts on global politics’ impact on the Island of the Gods. ‘The Russo-Ukrainian war certainly has an effect on the economy due to the increasing cost of flight tickets’.
Nevertheless, Aribawa is hopeful. He said, ‘We hope that in January next year Chinese tourists will come to Bali’. He noted that since levels of Covid-19 are under control on the island and the vaccine rollout has been successful, perhaps tourists from China could be the missing link in completing the revival of the tourism economy.
Tourism is undoubtedly heading in the right direction for business owners like Aribawa. Taiwan’s Eva Air has resumed direct flights from Denpasar to Taipei. The return of Eva Air to the tarmac of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport was celebrated this week with a water cannon salute. Traditional Balinese dancers and souvenirs welcomed the crew and passengers into the terminal.
The General Manager for Bali Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, was very enthusiastic about the airline’s return. He said, ‘Of course, this can be one of the triggers for the increase in various choices of routes and airlines, especially on international flights, which currently continue to show a significant increase, so that air transport traffic statistics will also increase in October 2022’.
Eva Air is the second airline to be offering a direct Denpasar-Taipei route after China Airlines resumed its service in September this year. Heryudhitiawan told reporters, ‘The Taipei route has previously been served by China Airlines, which according to its schedule flies every Tuesday and Friday’. He confirmed that the Eva Air route will be offered daily by November.
Heryudhitiawan was excited by the opportunity to welcome more travelers from Taiwan. He said ‘in the future, the airline’s plans are optimistic that it will continue to grow, seeing the data on normal flights arriving for Taiwanese citizens during 2019 as many as 116,099 so that we continue to maintain the trust of service users to ensure that the requirements are in accordance with government regulations’.
The General Manager has a big job on his hands in the coming weeks as Bali Airport prepares to welcome heads of state from the world’s twenty biggest economies and their delegations. While he is hopeful tourist arrivals will continue to rise in October, there will be a guaranteed surge in international visitors in mid-November.
As the G20 Summit will be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, there is speculation that travel restrictions for Chinese tourists to Indonesia may change after the event. The G20 Summit will be held in Nusa Dua on the 15th and 16th of November. Though there are dozens of meetings, workgroups, and smaller conferences throughout October and November across Bali.
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