Fears about safety in resort island continue with an increase in domestic tourism – and a forecast threefold increase in monthly beach sales
As tourists rushed to Bali early this month, visiting mainly from Europe, Australia and Canada, the local government continued to implement travel warnings – issuing extra ones this year. The two main reasons: terrorist attacks and the tropical heat.
On the international front, terrorism concerns are still keeping foreigners away and deterring international visitors from visiting Indonesia. The Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, mostly Australians, still scar the island, particularly in the tourist hubs of Lombok and Kuta, and have raised doubts about foreign travellers’ security at the same time that tourist numbers have plummeted.
Although the Bali bombings, which occurred between 26 October 2002 and 28 October 2002, have become part of the island’s history, the reported explosives arrested by authorities are believed to be from 2006. However, tourists worry that they will lose money if the bombs explode, even if they are later found to be fake.
Other factors that have resulted in a low tourism season in Indonesia include the slowdown in China’s economy, the growing demand for better services in Hong Kong and the decision of some foreign governments, including Australia’s, to issue travel warnings.
In July 2017, Bali’s foreign-direct travel arrivals was forecast to drop by 4.9% to 394,800 (from a peak of 415,000 in 2014). But with less than two weeks into this year’s tourist season, government officials are still forecasting a record high for August as foreign travel to Bali was 6.4% higher than the same period last year.
As a direct result of travel warnings, however, local visitors are stealing the touristic show.
Last year, Chinese tourists bought 25% of the $3.7bn worth of accommodation and dining services sold in Bali, according to the association of the Bali hotel industry, Bali Hotel & Tourism Association (Bukti). In July 2018, they again bought 25% of the $955m.