The end of January has arrived, which marks the beginning of the low season in Bali. Hotel managers in the popular resort area of Legian have already seen a drop in room occupancy over the last week. After the busiest Christmas and New Year period since 2019, hotels in Legian have shared how the holidays were a ‘breath of fresh air’ for the seaside destination.
Now, tourism businesses are reflecting on the successes of the end of 2022 and observing that bookings have begun to drop as the low season begins and the rainy season lingers on.
The Chairman of the Bali Marginal Tourism Players Alliance (APPMB), I Wayan Puspa Negara, told reporters that the Christmas and New Year holidays, known locally as Nataru, were an overall success for hotels and villas in the Legian area. He explained, “When [it was] Nataru, it’s full of everything. Especially at that time, the condition was indeed peak season. But after mid-January, it has started to fall again.” Data shows that room occupancy across all standards of hotels, from 1-star to 5-star, averaged between 90-95%.
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Moving into the low season, the occupancy rate in hotels and villas around Legian will ebb and flow between 40% for smaller-scale accommodations and 70% for bigger hotels and resorts. Bookings will increase again during the high season, which starts in late May and through to September. Negara explained, “During the low season, there are still a few high [occupancies], but some are low. This is specifically for star hotels. But for villas and non-star hotels, it dropped in the range of 20-40 percent.”
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Negara shared his hopes that the launch of the direct China-Bali flight would bring more and more tourists to the island. The Chairman said tourism leaders are hopeful that significant numbers of Chinese and Australian tourists will visit Legain in the year ahead.
Legian, which is sandwiched between Kuta and Seminyak, has long been one of Bali’s most iconic tourism destinations. Tourism operators in Kuta have shared how they have observed an exodus of visitors from the area, even after the lockdown. However, the phenomenon has not impacted neighboring Legain as significantly. They believe that tourists are favoring trendier and more recently developed destinations like Canggu.
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He shared, “We are still waiting for the impact of the flight opening from China. Then, we are also waiting for Australian tourists to be ranked first tourist contributors before the pandemic. During Christmas and New Year, there were indeed Australian tourists who came. But because of the low season factor, it is likely that June will only come again.”
The first direct flight from mainland China to Denpasar since February 2020 landed at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International on Sunday, November 22. The 210 passengers aboard the Lion Air charter flight from Shenzhen were greeted by Bali’s Governor, Wayan Koster, the Deputy Governor of Bali, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati.
Sukawati, also known as Cok Ace, has been open about his desire for more flights from mainland China to Bali. The Deputy Governor, like Negara, is waiting to see the number of arrivals from China take a sustained upwards curve.
Speaking at the arrival of the inaugural Shenzen-Denpasar flight, Cok Ace said, “We witnessed something amazing. The atmosphere is very different when compared to when we released the last Chinese foreign tourists on February 5, 2020, which marked the closure of access due to the pandemic situation at that time.”
The Deputy Governor, like so many tourism stakeholders in Bali, is keen to see more flights operating from China to Denpasar; he said, “We really hope that direct flights from 20 cities in China with 15 airlines can be returned as normal before the pandemic.” The Lion Air Shenzen-Denpsar flight has now been scheduled to operate once a week.
Progress is already being made in terms of adding more flights to the schedule. Ahead of last Sunday’s flight, 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”.
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