Bali’s Deputy Governor Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, known locally as Cok Ace, has told reporters that he feels the central government should subsidize flight tickets for international travelers. His comments come as he was informed that flight tickets from Australia to tourism hotspots in Thailand are cheaper than tickets from Australia to Bali. He said that the central Indonesian government should create a subsidy scheme to help boost tourism on the Island of the Gods.
Cok Ace said ‘Now the price of airline tickets from Australia to Bali is more expensive than from Australia to Thailand’. He was speaking after a panel discussion titled ‘Recover (Bali) Together: Awaiting Solutions for Business Continuity and Recovery’.
He said that the high ticket prices for international flights to Bali were having a negative impact on the local economy, He said ‘That [airfare prices] is the policy at the center [of the issue]. Therefore, we ask the center. Why if flights to other regions can be cross-subsidized by the country, why not Indonesia?’.
He confirmed that the local provincial government has made attempts to consult the central government about making ticket prices to Bali more affordable. He said ‘These expensive tickets are for tourists, we are working hard to improve the destination and provide the best service, but it’s back to entrepreneur’s capital’.
By this, he means that the local tourism entrepreneurs alone cannot keep the tourism economy on its steady recovery and that further input from the central government would be impactful.
Cok Ace noted how Bali’s tourism sector is bouncing back but that business owners are still struggling with the operational costs, staffing, and debt repayments after the height of the pandemic. He went on to explain how hotels are operating at 40-60% occupancy even in the high season.
He said that this lower hotel occupancy can be attributed to the two years of intermittent lockdowns and border closures. He didn’t lay out any further plans, or how much he had requested from the central government in subsidies.
The Recover Together: Awaiting Solutions for Business Continuity and Recovery Forum was an opportunity for tourism officials across Bali to meet and discuss the next steps in the island’s economic recovery.
The forum was headed by Gede Agus Maha Usadha, Vice Chairman of the Bali Chamber of Commerce for Tourism and Investment, Putu Subada Kusuma, Vice Chair for Legal Affairs at PHRI Bali, and I Ketut Wiratjana, Chairman of the DPD Association of Indonesian Rural Banks.
Gede Agus Maha Usadha called upon the central government to evaluate existing policies so that the economic recovery could match that of other regions of Indonesia, and level up with other tourism destinations in South East Asia.
The Chairman of the Bali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Made Ariandi, explained his hopes that the relaxation of credit repayments would be more professional and friendly. ‘We continue to strive to help keep Bali’s economy more stable, and through this talk show we can find the best solution’.
A subsidy on flight tickets to Bali would make a significant difference to many prospective travelers. With man holidaymakers setting out on their first international travels in nearly 3-years, the cost of travel is at the heart of many decisions.
Cok Ace did not suggest whether the notion of subsiding international airfares had been formally discussed with any airlines or Angkasa Pura, the state-owned enterprise responsible for the management of all of Indonesia’s airports.
In mid-July, officials for Bali’s International Airport announced that airport tax would not be increased in this quarter. General Manager of PT Angkasa Pura, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, confirmed that there would be no change in airport tax for both domestic and international passengers despite the increased in airport taxes at 19 other airports across Indonesia.
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