The fluctuating number of Australian tourists arriving on the island last year had not been affected by the tense diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Australia several months ago, an official said. Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu, head of the provincial Tourism Agency, said that the growth in Australian arrivals had slowed last year. As of October, the arrival rate had decreased; however, it increased again in November. According to data displayed on Bali’s official tourism website tourism.baliprov.go.id, 668,898 Australian tourists visited Bali during January to October last year, a decrease of 2.25 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.
However, in November, the figure increased, bringing growth to 0.67 percent. “Tense diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Australia started in October. If it affected arrivals, the figures in November would have decreased,” Subhiksu said. He explained that the number of Australian tourists had fluctuated last year, as they were enjoying their country’s robust economic growth and the favorable exchange to take vacations further afield, especially to Europe. Data from the provincial tourism agency showed that the monthly figures for Australian visits from January to November were respectively 62,450 people, 57,156 people, 59,769 people, 63,560 people, 67,862 people, 72,678 people, 74,634 people, 71,701 people, 71,480 people, 67,680 people, and 85,158 people.
Subhiksu added that the growth rate for Australian visits had risen significantly from 2008 to 2010, with respective annual percentages of 51.01 percent, 44.49 percent, and 45.25 percent. In 2011, growth dropped to 22.09 percent, further declining to 4.15 percent in 2012. Subhiksu said that the remarkable increases from 2008 to 2010 were due to the agreement between Indonesia and Australia to exempt Australian students from visa requirements. “We have asked whether the policy would be continued or not, but the regional office of the Law and Human Rights Ministry — which handles immigration matters, said that there had been no decision from the authorities,” he said, adding that his office was still waiting for arrivals data for December last year to conduct further analysis.
Krisna Teja, head of the Australian market division at the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (Asita), was optimistic that the sour diplomatic relations would not affect Australian interest in visiting Bali. He said he had asked his business partners in Australia about this. “They all said there was no negative impact on Australians’ plans to travel to Bali. Moreover, many Australians consider Bali as their second home.” The travel advisory issued by the Australian government also had no impact on visits, as many Australians were aware of the situation in Bali. He said the arrival rate decreased in October because it was low season. He also shared similar comments that slower growth in the arrival rate was due to the strengthening exchange rate of Australian dollars that attracted many Australians to take holidays to faraway destinations.
source : bali daily