This year has been branded as a year of recovery for the tourism sector in Bali. In the island’s most popular holiday destinations, hotel bookings have returned to almost pre-pandemic levels consistently since July.
That said, in areas outside of the leading tourist hotspots, the recovery from the impacts of the pandemic is varied. In the north of Bali hotel occupancy has been increasing, yet, in the east, accommodation providers are left off little better than in lockdown.
Visitors to Buleleng Regency have increased significantly throughout 2022. The number of visitors to the regency in 2021 was just 224,409, though this can be taken with a pinch of salt as international borders remained closed and many Covid-19 restrictions are still in place locally. This year to date, Buleleng Regency has welcomed 721,116. Data has been taken from accommodation registers.
The vast majority of tourists who have visited Buleleng this year have been domestic visitors. In fact, 596,640 domestic tourists traveled to Buleleng, with around 124,000 international tourists heading to the northern regency.
The Head of the Buleleng Tourism Office, Gede Dody Sukma Oktiva Askara, told reports that the sharp increase in visits to the regency had been a positive thing. He shared his gratitude that restrictions have eased so communities and travelers can have much more freedom than in 2021.
Askara told reports that the Buleleng Regency focuses on promoting the destination to the domestic tourism market. He explained that foreign tourism in the area does ‘not have enough potential’, so his teams focus on bringing in domestic tourists who are well-catered for in the area.
He said ‘the level of spending by domestic tourists is also higher [in Buleleng]. So, apart from visiting, the number of shopping for souvenirs is also large. Finally, there are also many who travel to Buleleng. So our tourism is much more passionate. Because the level of visits has started to climb’.
Buleleng Regency remains one of the least visited regencies in Bali, ranking seventh place, just ahead of Jembrana and Klungkung. Naturally, Badung and Tabanan Regency come consistently in first and second place.
Askara shared that the Buleleng Tourism Board is creating the marketing strategy for next year. He said, ‘We are studying the strategy. Even though the distance between Lake Beratan and Buleleng is not too far. We want the level of visits to also increase and have a direct impact on the community’.
While Buleleng Regency is looking at tourism figures with a glass-half-full approach, hotel operators in Karangasem Regency are fearful that bookings for the Christmas and New Year holidays remain low. The Chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) Karangasem, I Wayan Kariasa told reporters that, on average, hotel occupancy for the end of the year is around 30-40%.
Within the current bookings, 30% are from international tourists and around 10% from domestic travelers. Speaking to reporters, the Director at Ashyana Hotel Candidasa explained that before Covid-19, the hotel would be looking to have secured up to 50% hotel occupancy this far out from the holidays. He said that this year they could not be so sure.
Hotel operators in Karangasem Regency hope that the G20 Summit will encourage a last-minute flurry of booking. In the event of a worst-case scenario, they are hoping that the government will come and support them. Kariasa said ‘from promotions and others, we have maximized it. We also hope that the government will intervene in the promotion to the fullest’.
Bali is set to smash tourism targets by the end of the year. Minister for Tourism Sandiaga Uno set a target of welcoming 1.5 million international tourists and 7 million domestic tourists. Yet, the vast majority of tourism activity remains clustered around the hotspots of Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Ubud, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu.
Minister Uno has committed to diversifying the tourism offering in Bali both in terms of the type of tourism experiences on offer and the destinations within Bali where visitors explore.
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