This week marks the official start of Bali’s low season. Now that the Christmas and New Year holidays are over, Bali’s tourism sector will experience a dip in arrivals for the next few months. The end of the high seasons comes before the end of the rainy season, which will run until the end of March.
This year’s rainy season has bought about many more incidences of flooding and tragedies at sea than in previous years. The next few months give Bali’s tourism sector a chance to regather before the high season comes around again from May through September. July and August are the busiest months for tourism in Bali.
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Being a family-friendly destination, Bali’s high seasons coincide with the international school holidays. There are also high influxes of domestic tourists over religious holidays such as Eid al-Fitr. Although Bali is heading into the low season, there remains a chance of a spike in arrivals later this month and in early February now that China has reopened its borders. The Chinese New Year festival 2023 will start on the 22nd of January.
Speaking to reporters, I Komang Puji, Secretary of the Regional Leadership Council of the Indonesian Tour Guide Association, said, “Tourist visits are still there. But it has shown a decline,” in response to the falling number of arrivals this week. He added, “in Europe, the holiday season is over. Likewise, domestic holidays have also been completed”.
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Over Christmas and New Year, hotel occupancy reached 80-85% on average in Bali’s leading destinations. Now, hotel occupancy has dropped in these same areas to around 70%. According to the Bali Tourism Office, as of 8th January, the number of international arrivals to Bali was 90,627 people since New Year’s Day. This made an average of 11,328 per day. While domestic passengers are 87,930 people or 10,991 per day.
The Chairman of the Bali Villa Association (BVA), Putu Gede Hendrawan, told reporters that he is not fearful that the low season will bring hard times for the tourism sector. He commented, “we certainly hope that tourists will remain busy.”
Although national holidays are over and overall tourist arrivals are plateauing, demand for travel to Bali remains high. Late last week, Batik Air launched its inaugural direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Denpasar. These direct flight services from Australia were initially scheduled to operate four times a week, but due to high demand will be operating daily for the foreseeable future.
The impact China reopening its borders will have on Bali in the coming weeks remains unclear. The general manager of Bali Airport and other tourism leaders on the island have confirmed that they have not received the request for direct flights from mainland China nor any correspondence from the Chinese consulate regarding the resumption of international travel.
Before the pandemic, tourism from China was increasingly important to Bali’s local economy. Even while welcoming back international arrivals from all around the world in 2022, tourism leaders in Bali were holding out hope that Chinese tourists would soon be allowed to return.
Moving forward, there is a feeling that the tourism sector in Bali wants to attract high-wealth Chinese tourists to stay for longer periods. This comes as a move away from the pre-pandemic trends that saw middle-income travelers from China opt to stay for 3-4 nights as part of package deals and set tourist itineraries.
In December 2022, the Head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun, told the media clearly that his office had an objective to attract the high-wealth demographic. He said, “This is what we are working on because the spending money is high. Sleeping or staying overnight is definitely in expensive places. They [high-wealth Chinese tourists] spend money, and the spending is extraordinary. They take it everywhere”.
This campaign aligns with orders from the Ministry of Tourism to promote Bali to ‘high quality’ tourists as a destination for ‘serenity, spirituality, and sustainability’.
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