Bali is well on its way to smashing tourism targets for 2022. While many of Bali’s most popular destinations are consistently welcoming near pre-pandemic levels of bookings, other areas of the island have been slower to recover.
Many hoteliers and small guest house owners in East Bali have been open about the inconsistency of bookings. They have shared concerns for the future of their businesses if things don’t improve in the next few months. Thankfully, though, interest in East Bali has begun to peak as we approach the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Karangasem Regency attracts a decent number of tourists every year. While the majority of visitors to the area are domestic tourists, international visitors venture eastwards less regularly. Karangasem Regency is home to the popular diving village Amed, the Tirta Gangga spiritual retreat and gardens, and Blue Lagoon in Padang Bai. The regency has a lot to offer, but with marketing efforts proving more successful in Badung Regency, where tourists can find Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, and Canggu, East Bali is often overlooked.
The Chairman of the Indonesian Restaurant and Hotel Association for Karangasem, I Wayan Kariasa, told reporters that he is optimistic that hotel occupancy in the regency will increase towards the holiday season. He shared that, at present, hotel bookings in Karangasem sit at 35%. He said, “With the current achievements, we are optimistic that we can continue to improve. We predict it will be above 40 percent”.
He told reporters that trends show that many foreign tourists book their stays in Karangasem Regency at the last minute and often from within Bali. It’s often the case that backpackers and more spontaneous travelers visit Karangasem as opposed to visitors who are heading to Bali for a resort-style vacation.
With areas like Canggu becoming increasingly busy and nosey, especially over the end-of-year holidays, the hustle and bustle of Badung could work in favor of Karangasem. The regency offers a much quieter, calmer, grounded retreat.
Kariasa shared more details about travel trends in Karangasem Regency. He explained how international tourists participate in more nature-based tourism in the area. He noted that the opening of new tourist attractions in the regency, from viewpoints to shops, from cafes to village tours, had had a positive impact on the number of people visiting the regency.
There are hopes that over the next year or so, Karangsem will continue to attract more high-quality tourists. Kariasa said that his teams are working on innovative ways to promote the area to a new demographic of travelers. He said, “Especially the digital promotion. We hope that tourism in Karangasem will continue to show a positive trend”.
As Bali moves to diversify the tourism industry on the island, lesser-visited regencies like Karangasem are being presented with a huge opportunity for positive growth. The Ministry for Tourism and Creative Economies has been open about its intentions to promote health, wellness, and medical tourism in Bali. Karanagsem’s quiet and rural location puts it in an ideal position for wellness experiences and offerings of retreat.
Regenerative and sustainable travel is another key trend for 2023 that tourism operators in the regency would be wise to tap into. Data already shows that the people who visit Karangasem Regency are interested in nature-based tourism, and the area is perfectly set up to encourage more of the same.
Affordability is another factor not to be overlooked. Many hotels, guesthouses, and even private Airbnbs in Karangasem Regency are priced at more affordable rates than their equivalents in Badung and Gianyar Regency. Leaders in Indonesia have publicly discussed the impact the global cost of living crisis could have on the tourist sector in 2023.
As many in Bali have hiked their prices to try and cash in while they can, tourism operators in Karangasem may be wise to play the long game. By keeping rates as they are and allowing the natural beauty of the area to speak for itself, visitors will migrate eastwards to welcome in the New Year and beyond.
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