AUSTRALIA may be Bali’s main target market for inbound tourists, but China and Japan are trailing closely.
The Jakarta Post reported that as many as 154, 597 Japanese tourists visited the island between January and August this year, resulting in an upsurge of almost eight percent compared with the same period last year.
The region’s Central Statistics Agency head Adi Nugroho told Antara news agency that the Japanese are attracted to the island’s natural landscapes, learn how to play the tabuh (traditional percussion), as well as pick up Balinese dances, with many of them returning to the country to continue their lessons.
Meanwhile, data released by BaliDiscovery projects that over 850,000 mainland Chinese visitors will visit Bali by the end of 2016.
Bill Barnett, founder and managing director of C9 Hotelworks, said that while Australia still accounts for 23 percent of the international traffic, and has surged 12 percent versus 2016, the real storyline is that China recorded a 25 percent growth and 20 percent market share.
He added that Indonesia did their part in spiking numbers by offering visa-free benefits to tourists from several countries including China.
Despite healthy figures, a separate report on The Jakarta Post indicated that Bali’s local administration is yet to tap into its surfing industry as a potential tourism booster.
Irawan, also known as Piping, a surfer and coach, told kompas.com: “The surfing business in Bali is promising and has potential, such as surfboard rental services and surfing lessons. It could help increase local incomes as there are taxes to pay; unfortunately, the potential has not yet been maximized.”
Bali is one of Asia’s most popular surfing sites, with many surfing schools fringed along the coast to aid beginners and intermediates before they hit the big waves.
Overall, Bali is expected to welcome a record 4.8 million foreign tourist arrivals by the end of the year.