Bali is quickly moving into position to reclaim its mantle as the most desirable international holiday destination for Australians.
Statistics just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows Bali has already regained #2 spot, ahead of such destinations as the United Kingdom, United States and Fiji.
In fact, in 2003 Bali's popularity was far greater than any other Asian holiday destination, exceeding nearest rival Thailand by more than 45,000 visitors, and Singapore and Malaysia by more than twice this number.
Only New Zealand continues to attract more Australian holidaymakers than Bali, but not for long if past performance and future projections are any indicator. Industry observers in Australia say that that 2004 will likely see the island once again become the top international holiday destination for Australians Ė a position it enjoyed from 1996 to September 2001.
Comments from Bali wholesalers support the buoyant view on Australia's rapid comeback for Bali-destined tourism.
"Sales for both January and February have achieved record levels in our 21 year history," said Nick Deacock, Product Manager of Garuda Orient Holidays.
Andrew Yell, General Manager Ė Sales, Marketing & Product, for Creative Holidays described bookings to Bali as "phenomenal." "We are extremely happy with the way Bali has bounced straight back," he said.
Ian Garritt, Managing Director of Venture Holidays SA & NT, said his company had taken more bookings to Bali in the last week than it did for the whole of January.
"Passenger loads have been improving over the past six months, aided by some of the best value deals in years," said Kerry Timms, NSW Sales Manager for Garuda Indonesia, which has a total of 21 flights per week to Bali from six ports in Australia Ė more than any other carrier.
Mason Adams of Asia Escape Holidays joined the triumphant chorus saying, "we couldn't be more pleased with the tremendous increase in business to Bali we're currently experiencing. Bali's intrinsically strong brand equity is leading the rapid road to full recovery for that very special destination."
Given that Bali has been known to achieve annual visitor numbers in excess of 300,000 in the past, current trends would appear to strongly support the view that more than 200,000 Australian tourists will visit Bali in 2004.
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