A hot Bali spared effects of Lombok quakes

Bali's popularity remains unscathed despite the string of disasters affecting neighbouring Lombok

The string of devastating earthquakes that recently struck recently have not taken the shine off the neighbouring tourist hotspot of Bali, said buyers at the PATA Travel Mart 2018 last week, although some players have seen a shift in demand to other beach destinations.

Bali’s popularity remains unscathed despite the string of disasters affecting neighbouring Lombok

In the wake of the August 5 earthquake, travel intelligence analyst ForwardKeys – in a study released on August 28 – estimated a 42.9 per cent plunge in bookings for Bali.

India, which recently entered the top five source markets for Indonesia, has shown relative greater resilience to the quakes compared to other regional markets like Singapore and China, according to the report.

Sanjay Mehta, chief executive of India’s Trans Globe Travels, said: “Direct flights from Mumbai to Bali (have spurred demand for Bali). In fact after getting news of the Lombok quakes, more of our customers are requesting Bali.”

News reports and an overall availability of information have kept travellers informed and up-to-date on the situation, hence offering assurance that Bali is generally safe to travel to, explained Mehta.

“They know how far Lombok is from Bali. Nowadays travellers are smart; they know where the place (most affected is) and feel they have nothing to worry about,” he said.

“(Moreover), we refer to travel advisories from the Indonesian tourism ministry that have kept us updated on the situation. This is something the tourism board is doing fantastically (to buffer travel confidence).”

At Agent Holiday from Australia, a key feeder market for Bali, travel to the island destination likewise has “not at all” been affected, spokesperson Debby Hunter shared.

Bali has been a traditional favourite among Australians holidaymakers, Hunter said. “People understand that (disasters) happen, and that it is not likely to happen while they’re in Bali.”

Another reason why some buyers are not seeing major impact is that the disaster struck outside of high season, according to Boris Kolokolov, managing director of Russia’s Luxe Travel, and Igo Cruz, Travbest Travel & Tours in the Philippines.

“Russians mostly travel to Bali in the high season, which is around the New Year period. For now it is low season because it is rainy. The traffic comes in December and January,” Kolokolov remarked.

However, T Tamil Selvam, CEO at Chennai-based World Travel Club, said demand for Bali from Indian honeymooners had dropped by more than 50 per cent due to the Lombok earthquakes, and they are opting instead for the Seychelles, Mauritius and the Malidves.

While forward bookings for 4Q2018 were returning, they are “nothing like what we saw in the past”, said Selvam.

Turkish Airlines is currently working on opening the new route to Bali in the first half of next year, following the successful launch of the Istanbul-Phuket service in April 2018.

Stephanie Step Stephen, marketing representative, said Turkish Airlines currently codeshares with Malindo Air to access Bali. She said: “We have seen a huge increase in demand for (Bali) so we are launching a direct flight.”

She added this will increase access to Indonesia from Europe and vice versa, with Istanbul serving as a major European transit hub. “Bali is the perfect destination for Turkey, and the route will be popular with the European market,” said Stephen.

  • Additional reporting by S Puvaneswary and Marissa Carruthers
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