Bali is expecting a big comeback of the China market, after visitor numbers hit rock bottom with China’s November 27 imposition of a travel advisory due to the Mount Agung eruption.
Although the government advisory was lifted towards the end of last year, concerns lingered in the travel industry and Chinese arrivals were slow to rebound.
As recently as last week, Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies’ (ASITA) international marketing manager Eddy Sunyoto still had not seen a pick-up in the leisure segment. “It was two weeks prior to the Chinese New Year (CNY) period and customers still had not confirmed their bookings,” he groused.
However, good news came after Indonesia’s tourism minister Arief Yahya visited Beijing to meet 400 travel agents last week, resulting in 6,000 confirmed bookings, 5,000 of which will arrive during the CNY period, with more bookings expected to come in.
Some 1,500 Chinese travellers will arrive in Bali on China Eastern Airlines’ chartered services from Beijing and Shanghai during CNY, while an additional 3,500 are scheduled to arrive on other carriers.
ASITA Bali’s head of Chinese market division Elsye Deliana confirmed to the media that China Eastern, which suspended its flights in November 2017 due to volcanic ash from Mount Agung, will resume flights to Bali in February.
“(At) this moment, hotels in Bali are fully booked and tourism in Bali is recovering,” she added.
Gajah Bali Tour’s general manager Bambang Sugiono said that travellers from China are already trickling back into Bali, citing the example of 350 passengers arriving in Bali on Garuda Indonesia’s scheduled services earlier this week.
Business is expected to pick up even more significantly in conjunction with the CNY holiday. “The peak rush is going to be from February 12 to 16. But we are expecting more to come on February 17 and 18,” Bambang added.