The Head of Bali’s Tourism Office has confirmed that a new direct flight service will be launched from China to Bali in March.
The move comes as political leaders and tourism stakeholders have been calling on airlines to expand flight services from mainland China to Bali. Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun from the Bali Tourism Office has revealed that direct flights from Xiamen will commence in March 2023. Xiamen, an island city, has formally been referred to by countries in the west as Amoy.
Pemayun has confirmed that direct flights from Xiamen to Denpasar will commence as of March 3rd, 2023. He told reporters, “I have targets from the Governor [to welcome] 4.5 million tourists this year for foreign tourists, so I work hard, and there [will be] an increase in tourists from 2022, especially now that 2023 on March 3rd there will be flights from Xiamen, China every day.”
The Head of the Tourism Office said that in addition to Xiamen Airlines, there had been a further thirteen airlines that have proposed direct flights to Bali. He continued, “From China itself, approximately 3-4 airlines have proposed. So far, it’s been charter, and now it’s Xiamen’s daily flight.” Pemyuan was not able to confirm which aircraft would be used on the new daily service; in turn, he was unable to confirm the average increase in daily arrivals.
Pemayun revealed details of the letter he received from the General Manager of Xiamen Airlines Jakarta Office and Bali Division, Zhang Qi. The letter stated, “Coinciding with the beginning of spring in China, we are also very happy that this flight route will operate again as the first flight from mainland China to start scheduled commercial flights on the Bali-China route.”
The Chairman of ASITA Bali, I Putu Winastra, said that he and his teams have been invited to welcome the inaugural Xiamen Airlines flights to I Gusti Ngurah Rai International. Winastra told reporters that the first flight has 170 seats booked so far. He also told reporters that the first Xiamen Airlines flight to land since borders reopened would feel different from the charter service that currently runs weekly from Shenzhen.
Winastra also took the opportunity to call on tour operators who create packages for tourists from China to ‘prepare more attractive tour packages’. He wants to see tour experiences for Chinese tourists incorporate more interactions with medium, small, and micro enterprises (MSMEs) to help boost community economies across Bali.
Winastra’s comments on diversifying tour packages come just days after the Minister for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno, announced that he would “not hesitate to revoke the licenses of tour guides and tour operators who are partaking in the practice of ‘buying heads’.”
Reiterating his commitment to bringing high-quality tourism to Indonesia, Minster Uno said that tour operators should refrain from working with ‘unscrupulous’ tactics such as ‘head-buying’, which is the practice of a local tour operator buying exclusive rights to the tourists of another travel agent.
Minister Uno said, “later, we will coordinate, of course, the [tour guide] permit issued by the Governor will be revoked [if they’re found out].” He also encouraged business operators to focus on quality, not quality. He said if “they only focus on the quantity and if per head there is an incentive, this is what we have to avoid.”
Minster Uno concluded his firm statements on the matter by saying, “the practice that only calculates quantity must be abandoned by tourism actors, of course, it must be abandoned…the revival of Bali tourism will be of higher quality if tourism actors [don’t] only focus on lots of tourists from China”.
As Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport prepares to welcome the inaugural Xiamen Airlines flight to the tarmac, it remains to be seen which other airlines will be added to the weekly schedule in due course. It has been confirmed that up to four airlines from China have applied for permission to launch new flights, as well as airlines from India, the US, Russia, and Japan.
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