The Christmas and New Year holidays are one of the busiest times of year for the vacation capital of Indonesia. Not only does the airport receive a massive influx of international arrivals, but there is also a surge in demand for travel from domestic tourists. Earlier in December, airport officials shared that data from flight bookings shows that Bali could welcome an additional 1.4 million arrivals over the festive season.
In one viral video shared on TikTok, the arrivals hall of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport can be seen filled with queues of travelers waiting to get stamped into Indonesia. The video, shared on the social media platform on Boxing Day, shows crowds of travelers in the international arrivals terminal. The video was simply captioned ’When you get to Bali on Christmas’ accompanied by the viral sound clip ‘Oh No’ by Kreepa.
Bali Airport has not responded to the viral video. Airport management confirmed earlier this month that they were prepared to welcome the increased volume of arrivals. On the 6th of December, the General Manager of I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, told reporters, “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”.
Videos and complaints of long queues at Bali Airport are often encouraged to be taken with a pinch of salt by officials. Earlier this year, a travel blogger accused Bali Airport of taking 5-hours to process travelers at the arrivals hall. Following up on the accusation airport management team watched back CCTV of the writer only to find that his processing time from disembarkment to picking up his bag took just 53 minutes.
Authorities in Bali confirmed that the blogger was invited to leave Bali after publishing false information that had the potential to tarnish the public image of the island. The saga led to an official visit to the airport from Bali’s Deputy Governor Cok Ace. He inspected the whole operation and identified room for improvement.
He said, “Indeed, the passenger’s goods [luggage] seem to take a long time to process, between 30 minutes to 1 hour. But I have asked and hope that the process of waiting for passenger goods can be accelerated.” Airport teams acknowledged that queues do appear during peak arrival times and that they do everything they can to ensure that travelers have an efficient arrival experience.
In 2023, Bali Airport will undergo a series of renovations to prioritize the customer experience. Many regular travelers to Bali hope that this will include further streamlining of the arrivals process. At the beginning of December, InJourney, the state-owned enterprise responsible for aviation and tourism renovations in Indonesia, pledged to improve customer experience across the country’s major airports, starting with Ngurah Rai International.
InJourney’s Director, Dony Oskaria, told reporters that there has to be a shift in focus across the country’s airports. He said, “The airport is the first and last impression of people who come to Indonesia. How do we want guests to be perceived as being at the airport? We will transform the airport by focusing on what was originally operational-based to service”.
Services like the e-visa on arrival have been designed to help reduce the time it takes to get through the arrivals terminal at Bali Airport. When the service was launched in November, Acting Director General of Immigration for Indonesia, Widodo Ekatjahjana, said, “The ease and speed of this immigration service can increase the enthusiasm of the world community to come to Indonesia. This will positively impact the country’s economy”e-visa on arrival.”
Now, travelers can arrange their visa on arrival online before they travel and head straight for the designated immigration counter to help speed up processing times.
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