Preliminary data for direct foreign arrivals via Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport for the first four months of 2004 suggest Bali may be making a rapid recovery of tourism numbers.
The arrival figure, inexplicably somewhat higher than the official arrival figures from the Department of Culture and Tourism, were supplied by the Airport Authority (PAP) and in the Indonesian-language Bali Post
Based on the PAP figures:
• Overall, 437,031 foreign tourists visited Bali from January to April 2004, up 70.5% from the performance during the same period a year earlier.
• April arrival figure in Bali totaled 117,107 up a dramatic 117.9% from the depressed 53,726 arrivals for April 2003, a period affected by Iraqi war jitters.
• According to the PAP, March 2004 total arrivals clocked in at 105,236, improving 45.35% from the 72,263. (Tourism Department total for March were 99,825.)
• Again based on the PAP figures, February arrival figures increased 42.87% from the same month one year earlier. February 2004 direct arrivals to Bali were 93,392 compared to 67,469 in 2003. (Tourism Department figure for February arrivals were 84,348)
• PAP January 2004 foreign direct arrivals statistic to the island totaled 119,292, increasing 96.09% from the 60,836 people who visited in January 2003. (Tourism Department arrival totals for January were 104,062.)
What Do The Numbers Mean?
Whichever set of statistics are used, there is a definite trend of improvement in overall arrivals. April's very strong performance, if sustained in the May figures, will provide strong evidence of a return to pre-bombing arrival trends.
What the Numbers Don't Show.
Although numerically strong, the arrival figures do not reflect the significant drop in quality of arrivals to Bali. Increased arrivals from regional and Asian markets, while helping Bali play catch up in the numbers' race, do not compensate for the continuing depression in the European and American markets.
Current average spends per day in Bali are estimated at only US$60.95 with average-length-of-stays averaging only 6 days. In better times the average spend in Bali by tourist totaled US$134.66 and tourist stayed an average 10.97 days.
Thus, while total arrivals are increasing back to pre-bomb levels, the shortfall in foreign exchange hovers at more than 50% and the loss in room nights generated by foreign tourist to local hotels lags somewhere between 40-50%.
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