Mason Adams, Managing Director of the up and coming Perth-based Australian travel wholesaler - Asia Escape visited Bali and Central Java from February 11- 21, 2005, to catch up with suppliers and friends. During that visit, Mason had time to share his thoughts with balidiscovery.com on the state of the inbound travel market to Bali from Australia.
balidiscovery.com: What kind of year was 2004 for Asia Escape and Bali?
Mason Adams: In a word: tremendous. We experienced over 100% growth in both passenger numbers and room nights produced for Bali Hotels.
balidiscovery.com: Those are impressive figures. To what do you attribute such phenomenal business growth?
Mason Adams: Following the strong downturn in business following the October 2002 Bali Bombing, Bali has once again re-established itself as Australia's most preferred overseas holiday destination. Full credit must also be given to the Balinese who have continued to work hard to promote themselves in key markets, like Australia, and to tourism product owners who continued to invest money in upgrades and product improvements during the down period.
Borrowing a page from the game book of our Balinese friends, Asia Escape's unshakeable faith in the brand equity of the Bali holiday product caused us to use the slack period to consolidate and regroup. As a result, our company stands poised at the beginning of the current business resurgence with new senior staff to assist in marketing and operations and new technologies to help us serve and expand our existing customer base.
balidiscovery.com: What were the effects of the December 26, 2004 tsunami on your Bali-bound business?
Mason Adams: There was a momentary pause of a few days right after the disaster as everyone was glued to their televisions, trying to comprehend the enormous disaster.
However, once people realized Bali had escaped the earthquake and tsunami unscathed, bookings were not only back on track, but grew even more as people who might have taken a holiday in the tsunami-affected areas were now redirecting their holiday plans to Bali.
balidiscovery.com: Do you think there are any lessons to learn for Bali from the current disaster?
Mason Adams: Bali has been through so much in recent years that the tsunami disaster must serve as a reminder to everyone on the island of the need to have in place well-developed disaster and crisis management plans. The world changed on December 26 and I hope the Indonesian government and the Australian governments' waste no time in establishing the proposed early warning system which might help alleviate similar natural disasters in the future.
balidiscovery.com: Ranking officials from both countries have described relations between Indonesia and Australia as having "never been closer" than they are in recent weeks. Do you agree?
Mason Adams: Absolutely. The terrible tragedy of the North Sumatran earthquake has provided the Australians the chance to take a lead role in relief and aid efforts; the chance to give concrete expression to a long standing and deeply held affection the Australian people have for their nearest and largest neighbor in Asia.
balidiscovery.com: How do you see the travel business between Australia and Bali developing in 2005?
Mason Adams: Asia Escape is very upbeat about Bali in 2005. Based on early bookings during the first two months of 2005, we see our business at least doubling again in 2005. We're busy seeking new hotels and new secondary destinations in Indonesia, such a Yogyakarta and Lombok, in order to be able to accommodate the growing demand.
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