Bali Tourism Recovery – Uneven Across SE Asia
Two years after world tourism descended into suspended animation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the gradual removal of quarantine and travel restrictions across Southeast Asia is now precipitating the reawakening of tourism in the region.
As reported by Beritabali.com and Suara.com, while tourism is certainly on the rebound, the recovery process will not happen on a uniform basis across the region.
Data provided by the travel company ForwardKeys, says international air transportation bookings in Southeast Asia at the end of March 2022 were at a level of 38% of what they were in the pre-pandemic period. At the same time, a sharp increase in new bookings has taken place over the past three months, particularly in Singapore and the Philippines.
The Minister of Tourism for the Philippines, Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, says her country is leading the travel revival because “We were the first to cut all the bureaucracy.”
“Tourists enjoy this lack of bureaucracy because once they arrive in the country, they are free to go,” said Romulo-Puyat.
Meanwhile, many countries in Southeast Asia have opened their tourism borders for travelers who can prove they are fully vaccinated.
Many Southeast Asian destinations, such as Indonesia, only require travelers to undertake a rapid antigen test before arrival and upon arrival.
A few countries continue to apply stricter entry restrictions, such as Thailand, a leading tourism destination in the region, before the pandemic. In Thailand, international visitors are still subjected to bureaucratic rules. ForwardKeys reports that flight bookings to Singapore and the Philippines are 72% and 65% of 2019 levels, respectively, while Thailand bookings are only 24% of what they were in 2019.
Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of the Thailand Hotel Association, says: “The PCR test (in Thailand) can cost 2,000 – 2,500 baht (around Rp. 850,000 to Rp. 1 million) and the bureaucracy can sometimes be complicated.”
Marisa said Thailand’s current rules and regulations are seen as obstacles to travel by many travelers. Adding: “If other countries do not impose complicated entry requirements, travelers prefer to go to those places that are more relaxed.” (Tourism Recovery Bali)
The Governor of Thailand’s Central Bank, Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, said, speaking on Monday, 11 April 2022: “Thailand will need time until 2026 to recover fully.”
In 2019, the tourism sector contributed 12% of Thailand’s Gross Domestic Product (PDB).
As Southeast Asia recovers, the once prominent Chinese traveler has largely disappeared in the current revival. Before the pandemic, travelers from the PRC represented the overwhelmingly dominant source market for Southeast Asian travel. However, at this time, China’s travel sector remains in an almost virtual shutdown.
In 2019, more than one-quarter of the 40 million international tourists traveling to Thailand came from the PRC. Meanwhile, Thailand is only targeting in 2022 a modest 5 to 10 million international visitors, mainly from Malaysia and other neighboring Southeast Asian countries. (Bali Tourism Recovery)
MarketKeys says that for Southeast Asia as a whole, 30% of foreign tourists in 2022 are anticipated to originate from Europe. If this market share is realized, it will be an increase from 2019, when 22% of all visitors to the regions came from Europe. Similarly, the American market segment of travelers to Southeast Asia is projected to hit 21% in 2022, up dramatically from the 9% American market share in 2019.
Showing the impact of the diminished PRC market, ForwardKeys predicts in 2022, only 24% of all travelers in Southeast Asia will be from Asia, a figure less than half of the 57% Asian market share experienced in 2019.
Figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council say the tourism sector contributed US$ 380.6 billion to the gross domestic product (PDB) of Southeast Asia in 2019, an amount roughly equal to 11.8% of the total PDB for the region.
Air Passengers to Bali Increase 148% in April 2022
Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster has revealed that 305 airplanes operated international flights to Bali during April 2022, an increase of 148% compared to the previous month of March when 123 aircraft came to Bali. “The total number of international tourists in April was 66,685 or an average of 2,222 passengers per day,” said Koster on Sunday, 01 May 2022. (Bali Tourism Recovery)
As reported by NusaBali.com, the number of international tourists to Bali increased 287% in April compared to March, when 17,250 people or 575 daily passengers passed through Bali’s airport.
Bali’s Governor links the increased arrivals to the lowering of COVID-19 cases and high vaccination rates, resulting in an overall safe and conducive atmosphere for tourism. “In this way, the number of domestic and international tourists visiting Bali increased. What’s more, the policy changes on 07 March 2022 eliminating quarantine and the visa-on-arrival facility for 43 countries helped further increase tourism,” said the Governor.
Domestic flight movements to Bali in March 2022 numbered 2,188 aircraft carrying 276,619 passengers, averaging 9.220 daily passengers. In April, however, domestic flights declined to 1,966 aircraft movements. In April, this decline of 11% compared to the 245,050 total domestic passengers in March averaged 8,168 passengers per day.
The Governor cites the fasting month as the cause for the decline in travelers in April compared to March. (Bali Tourism Recovery)
Governor Koster is confident that tourism numbers, both domestic and international, are on the rebound in Bali. The ending of quarantine requirements and visa-on-arrival facilities for 60 countries herald the recovery of the tourism sector.
Further evidence of Bali’s recovery abounds. The Island will host a major conference – The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 23-28 May 2022 expected to attract 4,000 participants from 193 countries.
In late October 2022, Bali will be the site for the G20 Summit, expected to draw world leaders from at least 39 countries and some 10,000 delegates and participants. Bali Tourism Recovery
Traffic Surge at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport
Arrivals at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport hit a recent-record high on Thursday, 28 April 2022, with 23,625 passengers arriving and departing on both domestic and international flights. 15,748 arrived in Bali on this date, and 7,877 left the island.
The Stakeholder Manager for PT Angkasa Pura I, Taufan Yudhistira, said the airport managers had long predicted that Lebaran Holiday traffic would peak on the Thursday before Hari Idul Fitri.
Data recorded by the Ngurah Rai Command Post that coordinates holiday traffic shows passenger traffic growth starting from 25 April 2022:
At the time of the report published by NusaBali.com, more than 16,000 passengers were expected to pass through the airport on 29 April.
To handle the anticipated holiday rush of passengers, extra flight slots have been filled and approved granted for five airlines: AirAsia, Citilink, Batik Air, Garuda Indonesia, and Lion Air. 266 additional flight permits were requested via PT Angkasa Pura I for the Lebaran holiday period.
Extra holiday flights are operating primarily, in descending order, from Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta Airport, Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport, Solo’s Ado Sumarno International Airport, Yogyakarta’s International Airport, and Balikpapan’s Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Sepinggan Airport. Bali Tourism Recovery
G20: RI Neutral & Unaligned Position
The announcement of Indonesia confirming the invitations to the G20 Summit in Bali for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is being criticized in some circles, including the United States of America. The U.S. White House is threatening to boycott the proceedings if President Putin is allowed to attend.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in his capacity as the head of the G20 and host of the Summit, has answered that criticism by reaffirming that Putin is welcome to attend and extended an additional invitation to the Ukraine President.
Earlier, the USA has suggested to Indonesia that if Russia attends the G20, Ukraine should also be invited to Bali. Should Ukraine attend, it would be accorded a “special guest” status in that they are not a member of the G20.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo insists Indonesia’s position on the Ukraine-Russian conflict remain neutral and unaligned.
“I have already invited President Zelenskyy to attend the G20 Summit,” said President Joko Widodo. President Widodo delivered his invitation by telephone to President Zelenskyy on Wednesday, 27 April 2022.
The President of Indonesia has publicly identified the resolution of the Ukraine-Russian conflict as critical to global economic development. Bali Tourism Recovery
RI Invites Ukraine & Russia to G20
Balipost.com reports that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has relayed the confirmation that Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the G20 Summit in Bali in November 2022. The Indonesian President also confirmed that the Ukraine President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has been invited to join world leaders at the Bali Summit.
The State News Agency Antara reported the President’s comments from the Bogor Presidential Palace on Friday, 29 April 2022. Joko Widodo used the opportunity to express his thanks to G20 participants who have confirmed their attendance in Bali.
The Indonesian President and the Russian President spoke on Thursday, 28 April 2022.
During their telephone conversation, Putin reportedly updated Joko Widodo on the situation in Ukraine, including ongoing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
The Indonesian President used the opportunity to urge that peace in Ukraine be given priority and pledge that Indonesia stands ready to contribute to any peace process.
On Wednesday, 27 April 2022, President Joko Widodo called Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to invite him to attend the G20 Summit in Bali.
Although Ukraine is not a member of the G20, Indonesia, as the current chairman of the G20, is entitled to invite non-members to attend the Summit.
Many members of the G20 have criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, now in its ninth week. The conflict has sparked international geopolitical tension, threatened the global economy, and precipitated a massive humanitarian crisis.
Many G20 members are calling for the ouster of Russia and Vladimir Putin from the participant list for the Bali Summit. As host and chair of the Summit, Indonesia has resisted these calls, saying it was too premature at this time to take such a decision.
The Indonesian President explained that he has invited Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Bali Summit to help restore a troubled world economy.
“We understand that the G20 serves as a catalyst in global economic recovery. If we are discussing global economic recovery, two factors are critical at this time. The first is the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the second is the war in Ukraine,” said the Indonesian President speaking by video link from the Bogor Palace.
The G20 Summit will be held in Bali from 30-31 October 2022.
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