The festive season has well and truly arrived in Bali. As the Indonesian province begins to welcome 1.5 million tourists to the holiday hotspot for the Christmas and New Year holidays, it is not just the island of Bali that welcomes visitors.
Tourists are exploring Bali and its neighboring islands, including Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. Hundreds more tourists are boarding boats to explore the Gili Islands that sit nestled next to Lombok.
According to local reporters, tourists are ‘scrambling’ to get to the remote islands of Bali and West Nusa Tenggara. Tourists jumping aboard boats from Sanur Harbour and Serangan Harbour to Nusa Penida and the Gili Islands have nearly doubled in recent days. Before the festive season, boats from South Bali transported, on average, 150-200 tourists a day to neighboring islands. Now, fast boats are seeing ticket sales increase to 250-300 per day.
Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningnan are all outlying islands of Bali Province, governed as a part of the Klungkung Regency. The Gili Islands, comprising of Gili Trawangan, also referred to as Gili T, Gili Meno, and Gili Air, fall within the West Nusa Tenggara Province within North Lombok Regency. These are some of Indonesia’s most popular beach destinations outside of the main island of Bali.
Famous for being much quieter and less densely populated than the bust resort areas of Bali, many tourists visit the areas to experience white sandy beaches and fantastic diving. I, Nyoman Turut, who is in charge of Serangan Harbor, told a reporter that he was happy to see the sharp increase in numbers. He explained how there is a fairly even split between domestic and international tourists, with many foreign visitors from India and Europe.
Turut shared that the influx of tourists is having a positive effect on businesses neighboring the fast-boat harbors. Not only do ticket sales boost the local economy, but so do visits to the area by passengers waiting to board their boats.
He reported how many handicraft stall owners in the area had seen an increase in sales, as well as cafes and restaurants. He noted how Serangan is a destination in its own right, a place where visitors can learn about turtle breeding and marine conservation, enjoy water sports and explore the local culture.
Nusa Penida Harbor hit the headlines late last week as the newly built pontoon bridge collapsed into the water after too many people tried to cross at one time. Officials have ordered the pontoons be fixed before Christmas to ensure that boarding and disembarking the fast boats are safe and efficient for travelers.
Speaking to the press after the incident, the Directorate General of Sea Transportation of the Ministry of Transportation through the Nusa Penida Class II Port Administration Unit, I Ketut Gede Sudarma called on fast boat operators and passengers to comply with safety procedures and to prioritize safety. Even if that means being extra cautious, he reiterated that safety is a shared responsibility between fast boat operators, the port, and passengers.
News that the increasing demand for travel to Bali was shared by Bali Airport General Manager last week, who confirmed that his teams have received over 400 requests for additional flights over the festive season. He shared data predictions that the island is set to welcome 1.4 and 1.5 million visits between mid-December and the New Year.
This has led areas like Nusa Dua in Bali to launch last-minute promotional deals to lock in as many bookings as possible. The Managing Director of The Nusa Dua Area, I Gusti Ngurah Ardita, told reporters, “We have prepared various promotions for tourists. This is all to increase tourist visits…Our area is also equipped with CHSE Certification (Cleanliness, Health, Safety, Environment Sustainable) and also the Covid-19 SOP, which is consistently implemented to provide a safe and comfortable travel experience. We invite tourists not to hesitate to vacation in The Nusa Dua area”.
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