With the Australian winter school holidays approaching this May, the tourism sector in Bali braces to welcome the first big influx of international travelers for its long-awaited reopening from Covid-19.
Between 25th April 2022 and 8th May 2022, Bali has averaged 30,000 new tourist arrivals every day. The Head of the Bali Tourism Office, Tjok Gede Pemayun, has said that he is thankful that the island can finally welcome tourists again. He noted that the Eid Al-Fitr holiday was the real turning point for the sustained increase in tourist arrivals. Over the Eid Al-Fitr weekend, Bali saw its first tourism-related traffic jams in nearly two years and Sanur Port saw a record number of travelers pass through the dock.
Over the Eid Al-Fitr weekend, hotel occupancy rose to 60%, another welcomed development for the Bali tourism sector. Though many of the tourists visiting Bali this year have been domestic travelers, the Bali Tourism Office is anticipating an influx of visitors from Australia during May. The Australian school holidays have always been seen as peak season in Bali, in addition to the Christmas break.
For decades travelers from Australia have headed to Bali in search of some winter sun during May and June. The tourism industry has tended to time this surge in demand with discounted package deals and all-inclusive offers that are too good to say no to.
Since travelers from Australia can enter Indonesia with a visa on arrival, it is very simple for them to recommence their annual vacations to the Island of the Gods. While there are still some pre-arrival Covid-19-related restrictions, flying to and from Bali is now as straightforward as it was prior to the pandemic. Whatsmore, since Australia has loosened its Covid-19 travel restrictions significantly easier for Australians to return home.
Tjok Gede Pemayun from the Bali Tourism Office has shared his concerns that tourists may be disappointed by the closing of businesses in Bali during the pandemic. That many of their favorite shops, cafes, and bars may not yet be running at full capacity. He has asked that travelers keep in mind the impact that the pandemic has had on local businesses. Pemayun was keen to express his desire for businesses across the tourism sector to work together in the reopening of Bali.
It is clear that the Bali Tourism Board is working incredibly hard to ensure that travelers, both domestic and international, have outstanding experiences in Bali and that local businesses are supported. He said that his team has been in discussion with local businesses and local communities to ensure that health protocols across the island are being adhered to, and that essential maintenance to tourist facilities is undertaken. During the pandemic, due to loss of finance, lockdowns restricting movement, and uncertainty around reopening, many tourist facilities were abandoned. There is a concerted effort across the sector to make sure that Bali looks visibly presentable and functioning effectively.
Hotel bookings for the end of May, June, and July have increased significantly on the same time last year. The majority of bookings have been coming from Australia. Travel agents, online hotel booking platforms, and airlines are scrambling to put out irresistible deals to maximize this surge in bookings.
Local tour guides and taxi drivers who have not seen their long-standing annual guests for two years are looking forward to greeting their old friends back in Bali. Though the tourism sector in Bali is largely controlled by big businesses, informal employment in the tourism sector was the leading source of income for thousands of families across Bali. From warung chefs to taxi drivers, from tour guides to cleaners, babysitters, and massage therapists, it is the informal workers of the Balinese tourism industry who will be breathing the biggest sigh of relief as the island welcomes back its first influx of Australian holiday-makers.
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