The Ministry for Tourism and Creative Economies have confirmed the first charter flight from mainland China to Bali. Though it remains the case that there are no direct commercial flights from mainland China to I Gusti Ngurah Rai International, the request for a charter flight has given a boost of hope to tourism leaders on the island. The news comes as Bali prepares to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
The Head of the Bali Tourism Office, Tjok Bagus Pemayun, said “On February 22 there is a charter flight from Shenzhen. We got information from the Deputy for Marketing of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. That’s the number of passengers 210. Of course, the challenge is that there are no regular direct flights from China. So this is just a charter.” Local reports suggest the tourists will stay in Bali for 6-days, though no information has been made public about their onward travel plans.
The pending arrival of Sunday’s charter flight comes as leaders in Indonesia are calling on airlines to establish direct flight schedules from mainland China to Denpasar. Speaking to the press this week, the Chairman of the Association of Indonesia Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA), I Putu Winastra, shared details of conversations he has been having with Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno.
Winastra said, “We encourage three direct flights from three cities, namely from Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing to come directly to Bali So the [Tourism Minster] has expressed readiness to meet with the Minister of Transportation so that these three routes will soon be in Bali”.
He confirmed that Indonesia has targets to welcome 255,300 travelers from China in 2023, figures that have been set based on pre-pandemic travel data. According to Winastra, the lack of direct flights from China’s big cities to Bali could be a missed opportunity, especially over the Lunar New Year holidays. Winastra said that he had held virtual meetings with the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing, the Consul General in Shanghai, the Consul General in Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
He shared that officials have discussed the reported rising caseloads in China and the potential implications for Bali. Winastra said that he received information that the caseloads of the variants detected in Beijing are falling and that they are variants already present in Indonesia. He stated that travel requirements would remain the same for arrivals to Bali from China, noting that tourism businesses, Indonesian citizens, and other tourists not to discriminate.
Winastra said, “so the rules for entering Chinese tourists to Bali are the same as the rules for foreign tourists from other countries to Bali. So there is no difference. There is no discrimination.”
The news of the first charter flight from mainland China comes as Bali continues preparations for the New Year holidays. In the resort area of Nusa Dua, hotels are preparing to welcome guests from China and are laying on special events and activities in honor of the Chinese New Year.
The General Manager of The Nusa Dua, I Gusti Ngurah Ardita, told reporters, “We are ready to welcome tourists to enjoy the Chinese New Year holidays by providing various attractive promos and complete facilities provided. We hope tourists can enjoy a holiday safely and comfortably.”
Leaders at the Dharmayana Kuta Temple on Jalan Blambangan, Legian, are inviting the public to enjoy Chinese New Year celebrations at the temple. Adi Dharmaja, the head of the Dharmayana Kuta Temple, has spoken to reporters about the upcoming festivities. He said the temple is expecting to welcome 2000-3000 people to observe the ceremonies.
“We are very grateful for President Jokowi’s official broadcast regarding the repeal of PPKM; we hope that this pandemic will end. However, we still urge people who want to carry out worship to maintain their health. If you are sick, it is better to stay at home and not pray at the monastery so as not to affect other friends.” The biggest ceremony will happen on Sunday, 22nd January, with events running until 5th February. Dharmaja continued, “the Dharmayana Kuta Temple will be open at 00.00 – 24.00 WITA to welcome the arrival of the people; usually there are also very many people that night.”
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