Indonesia’s tourism recovery marred by clipped wings

Demand for Indonesia, particularly Bali, is high but Indonesian travel industry members are concerned that the lack of seat capacity and skyrocketing airfares will hamper further growth.

Wayan Sukasih, director of sales and marketing, Grand Mirage Resort & Thalasso Bali, told TTG Asia that while business is growing, with occupancy as of mid-June standing at 30 to 50 per cent, “not all of our markets are back yet”.

Although travellers are keen on Bali, they have been forced to look at other destinations due to the lack of flights

“Currently the Australians and Indians have started to come again, while Europe, Japan and particularly China have not. They are either still not able to travel, or they cannot fly because there is no seat or the airfare is too expensive,” said Wayan.

Eduardo Castro, general manager, Meliá Bali Indonesia, is cautious with his expectations since half of the hotel’s occupied rooms now are taken by groups hailing from Jakarta and attendees of the events related to the G20 Summit. A clearer picture of international travel recovery will show when the G20 Summit concludes.

Castro’s concerns stem from international flights into Bali that are not yet fully reinstated.

International flights to Bali have been on the rise since April but current services are still at around 30 per cent of 2019’s operations, according to the Bali Regional Tourism Office.

Although travellers are keen on Bali, they have been forced to look at other destinations due to the lack of flights.

“This is definitely a threat for the destination,” said Castro, adding that global inflation, rising fuel prices and steep airfares are putting even greater pressure on travel recovery.

Classic Tours in Lombok, which markets adventure travel to consumers in Europe and the US, have found airfares from Europe triple that of pre-pandemic prices, while domestic airfares within Indonesia are highly inflated.

Classic Tours’ travel consultant, Nawasier Tralala, said domestic flights are in shortage but necessary for adventure travellers to access remote destinations.

As a result of rising airfares, Tralala is forced to recalculate his package rates, which are thrice as high. For customers who are looking to travel now on postponed 2020 trips, the fare difference is causing friction.

“I cannot run the programme with the old budget, and (customers) are not willing to top up that much. So, we have agreed to postpone the trip again, towards the end of the year. Hopefully flights will be back to normal by then,” he said.

When asking about this predicament, Putu Winastra, chairman of Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies Bali Chapter, recommended that the government negotiate with international airlines to ramp up flights to Bali.

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