Bali has welcomed over 10 million tourists in 2022 alone. While this number is significantly higher than targets set by the Minster for Tourism earlier in the year, the positive impact of tourism returning to Bali has not been distributed evenly across the islands.
Even before the pandemic, tourism was concentred in the south of Bali, and as such, it has returned to these areas more quickly. This has left many areas, like Buleleng Regency in north Bali, struggling to bounce back from the impacts of the lockdown at the same pace.
As the festive season gets underway, tourism leaders in Buleleng Regency have spoken with reporters to share their relief that hotel occupancy and tourism bookings have increased for the holidays. The Head of the Buleleng Tourism Office, Gede Dody Sukma Oktiva Askara, told reporters, “The Christmas and New Year holidays will definitely increase the number of tourists.”
He confirmed that they are expecting over 6,000 international tourists to enjoy their vacation stay in Buleleng. Askara continued, “then there are more domestic tourists. It can reach 15,000”. While this makes up just a small fraction of the 1.4 to 1.5 million tourists to arrive in Bali over the festive season, Askara and his team are viewing this as a positive development.
Askara shared that he and his teams have issued instructions to tourism operators in the area to prepare for an increase in day-trippers to the regency over the festive holidays. The Buleleng Tourism Office is expecting an increase in visitors to key destinations like Lovina Beach, Lake Buyan, and Lake Tamblingan, as well as West Bali National Park and Menjangan Island.
Earlier this year, Tourism Minster Sandiaga Uno launched a campaign to promote lesser-visited areas of Bali, like Buleleng Regency. Partnering with popular social media creator Damien Hoo, Minster Uno said, “I invited Damian Hoo as part of a concrete step to promote tourist destinations in North Bali and West Bali, especially in Buleleng Regency“.
This campaign was launched as a part of Minster Uno’s mission to promote the diversity of tourism opportunities in Bali. He wants to increase awareness of other must-visit destinations around Bali away from the hotspots of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, and Canggu. Buleleng Regency also offers a range of tourism activities that align with Minster Uno’s new mantra for Bali tourism of ‘serenity, spirituality, and sustainability’.
Buleleng Regency has already received a huge boost in tourist arrivals this week before the Christmas holidays officially begin. Cruise ship Genting Dream, the largest cruise ship in Asia, arrived on Bali’s north coast on Wednesday, 21st December. The ship, carrying nearly 4,000 passengers and 1,800 crew, could not dock at the Celukan Bawang Harbour Pier due to its size. Instead, passengers boarded shuttle boats to reach the land. Many tourists took part in a tour of Buleleng’s leading tourist destinations.
Cruise tourism is a sub-sector of the industry that Buleleng Regency is looking to promote further in the next few years. Speaking at the arrival of Genting Dream, Aksara said, “The momentum of tourist arrivals through the arrival of cruise ships can boost the economy, especially in the tourism sector, which had slumped after the Covid-19 pandemic. We also hope that the arrival of this ship will be an indicator of increasing the interest of tourists coming to Buleleng”.
Bali is heavily investing in developments to support cruise tourism. Benoa Harbour is undergoing a massive renovation to transform into the Bali Maritime Tourism Hub. The area is receiving over USD 80 million in investment to help establish the island as a leading cruise destination in Asia. The new tourism hub will include a yacht marina, yacht club, theme park, and water sports facility.
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