Bali is preparing for the busiest Christmas and New Year since 2019. Airport officials have shared data predictions for the number of arrivals in December, and it’s looking good for the Island of the Gods. The I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, has told reporters that terminals are preparing to welcome up to 1.5 million tourists in the next few weeks.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, 5th December, Heryudhitiawan said, “Our target passengers are still counting. But God willing, we are optimistic that in December 2023, it could be between 1.4 million and 1.5 million in one month”.
When asked whether the increase in flight tickets had impacted travel trends, Heryudhitiawan shared that there has been no noticeable impact on buying behavior. He shared that flight bookings are on par with predictions despite the rising fuel costs and the cost of living crisis in many countries where Bali’s most frequent visitors travel from.
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The Christmas and New Year holiday, known locally as Nataru, is always one of Bali’s busiest times of the year. Heryudhitiawan explained that more flights may still be scheduled to keep up with demand as last searches for last-minute deals continue to rise. Last week hoteliers in East Bali shared their optimism for a surge in last-minute bookings for the Nataru holidays to help boost hotel occupancy up to 30-40%.
Heryudhitiawan told reporters, “Today there is a meeting to apply for a winter slot, and if the slot is not only for Bali…we are awaiting for further direction from the Minister of Transportation”. He confirmed that with regard to Covid-19 protocols, everything remains the same and that the airport will connote to adhere to the directions provided by the central government.
The prediction of up to 1.5 million arrivals in December is welcome news for many in Bali’s tourism sector. Data revealed last week confirmed that the island has welcomed over 1.4 million tourists from January to the end of October this year. Numbers from November 2022 are yet to be released but will be bolstered by the influx of arrivals for the G20 Summit. The prediction of a further 1.4 million arrivals in December would see Bali welcome as many tourists in one month as it had done over the course of the whole year.
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The Head of the Central Statistics Agency for Bali Province, Hanif Yahya, shared tourism data with the media last week. Yahya said, “Foreign tourists who came directly to Bali Province in October 2022 recorded 305,244 visits, an increase of 4.84 percent compared to the previous month period, which recorded 291,162 visits”.
Heryudhitiawan has not clarified the predicted ratio of domestic to international arrivals in December. Typically the Nataru holidays see the biggest influx of international arrivals, with the largest number of domestic arrivals in Bali traveling over the Eid Al Fitr festival.
Last week Bali Airport announced its commitment to improving the traveler experience at the airport throughout 2023. InJourney, the state-owned enterprise responsible for aviation and tourism renovations in Indonesia, has pledged to rebrand and reinvigorate I Gusti Ngurah Rai International.
InJourney’s Director, Dony Oskaria, told reporters that there has to be a shift in focus across the country’s airports. He said, “The airport is the first and last impression of people who come to Indonesia. How do we want guests to be perceived as being at the airport? We will transform the airport by focusing on what was originally operational-based to service”.
As officials in Bali look to promote the island as a destination for international conferences, sports events, and global investment, upgrading the airport experience for travelers holds serious value.
Many have commented that officials should endeavor to emulate the passenger experience at airports like neighboring Singapore Changi Airport, where many of Bali’s international arrivals must transit through before flying to Denpasar. According to Skytrax, the top three best airports in the world right now are Doha Hamad International, Tokyo Haneda International, and Singapore Changi.
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