The Christmas and New Year holiday season in Bali was a big success for the tourism industry, with hotel occupancy rates reportedly increasing significantly. Even lesser-visited areas in Buleleng Regency, received a significant influx of tourists.
According to the Chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) for Buleleng, Dewa Ketut Suardipa, the occupancy rate of star hotels rose by 50%, while non-star hotels saw a 40% increase. However, some tourists have complained about the high room rates at non-star hotels, particularly in the popular beachside resort village of Lovina.
Suardipa revealed that tourists and tour operators had complained about the high rates at non-star hotels in Lovina. He explained that tourists had voiced their concerns about the high price of hotel rates compared to the quality of the hotels, the condition of the buildings and the facilities on offer.
He said that feedback mainly had been from domestic tourists, some of whom had felt that the facilities at hotels in the area needed to be improved given the high room rate. Suardipa shared his concerns that this would lead many tourists to choose accommodation in southern Bali instead, where similar hotels are seen to have better facilities and are consistently cheaper.
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“This is indeed a fact, as conveyed by them (domestic tourists), for similar hotels in Lovina, the tariff is IDR 700,000 (USD 45) and in southern Bali, it can only be between IDR 300,000 and IDR 400,000 (USD 19-25)” said Suardipa.
The tourism leader believes that to compete and attract more visitors, Buleleng tourism businesses will need to focus on improving the hotel facilities, as well as marketing the regency as a whole. All that said, there are plenty of incredible accommodation options in Buleleng that are less than USD 20 a night.
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“There must be an improvement in facilities and services, including the suitability of hotel rates with hotel conditions. If not, we will definitely be even further behind,” he added. Suardipa went on to say that there are non-star hotels that offer five-star services and facilities.
He shared that these hotels are not necessarily offering poor quality experience but are only licensed as non-star hotels. “There are indeed non-star hotels in terms of licensing, but in terms of facilities and services, they are the same as star hotels. Only the permits are non-starred,” he explained.
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Comparing and contrasting tourism facilities in Buleleng vs Badung is not necessarily as simple as black and white. In this context, it’s not helpful to compare room rates like-for-like. Tourists visiting Badung Regency, in areas like Canggu, Nusa Dua, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, have an abundance of choices when it comes to accommodation.
In many instances, hotels and holiday rentals are operating in a race to the bottom in a bid to secure as many bookings as possible. The sheer volume of tourism in the resort areas of southern Bali enables accommodation operators to offer cheaper rooms.
Whereas in northern Bali, in areas across Buleleng Regency, there are markedly fewer accommodation options by comparison to Badung and significantly fewer tourists arriving throughout the year.
In late 2022, Tourism Minster Sandiaga Uno launched a marketing campaign to promote lesser-visited areas of the island, like north and west Bali. He noted how he wanted to promote higher-quality tourism in these areas. A sentiment that has been echoed by Suardipa this week.
While it may mean playing a slower and steadier strategy for tourism recovery, Buleleng, especially areas like Lovina, are in a unique position to rebrand themselves. But in order to do that, there must be sufficient funds to create marketing campaigns and level up resources. With limited resources available following the fall out of the pandemic, many tourism businesses in the area are caught between a rock and a hard place.
As Badung Regency continues to receive vast amounts of investment into development, and as Bali, as a province, becomes evermore appealing for investors, naturally, resources will start to be spread futher around the island. There has already been public interest in developing Bangli Regency as the next resort area in Bali. Progress maybe is slow, but interest from investors is certainly moving northwards.
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