At the beginning of the year, if you had told Bali’s tourism sector that 10 million people would travel through the island’s only international airports, they would have found it hard to believe you. With borders still closed by the end of January 2022, the year ahead for the tourism industry looked rocky at best.
But, this week, the General Manager of Bali Airport confirmed that by the end of November 2022, the airport had seen over 10 million passengers pass through the terminals.
The General Manager of Angkasa Pura I at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, told reporters that air traffic to Bali continues to rise. He said that data show, from January to November 2022, Bali Airport was the second busiest airport in Indonesia. The terminals welcomed 10,877,677 passengers in the first 11 months of the year.
He explained, “From January to November, we have served 3,790,404 international travelers and 7,087,273 domestic travelers. Overall, there were 10,877,677 passengers…This amount includes the arrival and departure of state guests and the G20 Summit participants who attended on the island of Bali”.
In November alone, Bali Airport welcomed 674,041 domestic passengers and 634,783 international passengers. There are currently 21 domestic flight routes served by 11 airlines. As for international routes, the airport serves 24 flight routes to 14 countries, served by 27 airlines.
As is to be expected, the most popular domestic flight route is Denpasar-Jakarta, closely followed by Surabaya and Makassar. Consistently the most frequent visitors to Bali hail from Australia, with 194,210 passengers landing in Bali in November. A further 162,328 passengers arrived in Bali from Singapore, with an additional 83,448 people coming from Malaysia.
This has led officials to pin hopes on welcoming over 12 million people to the Island of the Gods by the end of the year. Last week Heryudhitiawan, told reporters that terminals are preparing to welcome up to 1.5 million tourists in the next few weeks.
“Our target passengers are still counting. But God willing, we are optimistic that in December 2023, it could be between 1.4 million and 1.5 million in one month”. The island is pinning high hopes on the Christmas and New Year holidays, known in Indonesia as Nataru, as being incredibly successful.
One tourism village in Tabanan is already seeing a surge in visitors as the Nataur holidays approach. Pinge Tourist Village offers guests a glimpse at the traditional Balinese way of life. The Chairperson of the Tourism Awareness Group (Pokdarwis) for Pinge Tourism Village, Anak Agung Ngurah Arimbawa, said that group bookings have been on the rise in the last week or so.
While bookings are on the rise in some areas of Bali, and many popular tourist areas are feeling incredibly busy, just as many parts of the island are still struggling to reach pre-pandemic levels of business. In areas of North Bali like Lovina, hotel occupancy remains low. In recent weeks hoteliers from East Bali told reporters of their hopes that the Nataru holidays would bring a flurry of last-minute bookings from international tourists.
Last week the Chairman of the Indonesian Restaurant and Hotel Association for Karangasem, I Wayan Kariasa, told reporters that hotel occupancy for the end of December sits at around 35%. He explained, “With the current achievements, we are optimistic that we can continue to improve. We predict it will be above 40 percent”. Although 40% occupancy as an average across hotels in the regency may appear low, it is in fact, quite close to pre-pandemic levels for the time of year.
Yet, as news broke of the changes to the Indonesian criminal code that have caused anxiety for many unmarried coupled traveling to Bali, many potential travelers have canceled flights or are looking elsewhere for a last-minute Christmas getaway.
Although its been confirmed that the new changes won’t come into effect for three years, nor will they realistically impact tourists, the news has certainly made some tourists second guess their plans to visit Bali. Whether the island managed to break the 12 million arrivals barrier will remain to be seen.
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