Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bali. Is the party over? Tourist arrivals fall in January 2013

The number of Australian tourists flying into their paradise island of Bali have fallen for the first time in almost eight years.

In January, 58,588 Aussies landed at Bali's international airport. This compared with 64,418 for the same period in 2012, representing a fall of 9.05%. So is the party over for Bali?

It's too early to say, but it should be noted that overall tourist arrivals into Bali were down 14.35% for the same period helped along by a significant decline in numbers from China, as Chinese citizens stayed home for their New Year celebrations. Notwithstanding the numbers from China, the trend, if it continues, is worrying.

So what could be causing the decline from Australia given out love affair with Bali? The dollar remains strong and airfares are as competitive as ever, so perhaps other factors are at play?

There is no doubt the methanol poisoning scandal that claimed the life of young Liam Davies, and the resultant high-level coverage by Australian newspapers, harmed the image of Bali.  Aussies love their grog, so when they perceive that it is dangerous to get drunk on spirits then maybe it's time to go somewhere else?

Bali also has another bigger and more challenging long-term problem: Infrastructure.

Roads are chaotic with massive traffic jams making even Perth look good, river systems that are polluted and beaches that wash tonnes of rotting garbage-including condoms and plastic bottles-onto once pristine beaches, all contribute to this growing negative image of Bali.

Then of course there is the Aussie "yobbo" factor. Drunken and disrespectful Australians regularly disgrace themselves on the streets of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. It's not pretty watching young girls vomiting into one of the many dirty and open drains that are found all over the tourist areas of Bali. Drunken blokes punching each other also doesn't help. Many people, including Australian families are appalled by these few who tarnish our reputation as happy and friendly travellers.

Yet Bali still has much to offer. It's cheap, it's fun and the Balinese people are amongst the friendliest in the world. And the food is very good with plenty of first class cafes and restaurants.

So the jury is still out on Bali, but the February numbers will be watched very carefully; not only by Australians but also the Balinese people. For many of them their lives depend on the love affair with the big land down under continuing.

Ross Taylor
March 2013


  1. Looks like the party's over Ross http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=446179642130169&set=a.119032021511601.28637.117859211628882&type=1&relevant_count=1


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