Near-record Australian visitor totals for Bali and plans by air carriers operating between Bali and Australia to add capacity over the coming year Ė it's increasing clear that all indications point toward a booming tourism economy in operation between the two neighboring destinations.
At a press conference organized by the Indonesian delegation attending the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) in Melbourne February 22-23, 2005, Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism Deputy Minister of Marketing, Udin Saifuddin, said business and private travel to Indonesia from Australia had risen to more than 420,000 last year as overall arrivals surged past five million and tourism became the country's second largest foreign exchange earner after oil and gas. He said Indonesia is targeting 500,000 visitors from Australia in 2005 and announced that Indonesia will reopen its Sydney Tourist Office in the middle of this year as part of an expansion which will also see new offices in Japan and China.
Garuda Indonesia's Regional Manager for Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.A., Iriansyah Antemas said the new Sydney Tourism Information Office will help Indonesia capitalize on booming interest in Bali in particular and expanding interest in Indonesia in general. "Demand is being driven by the quality and diversity of business and holiday product available in Indonesia as well as value among the best in the world with the Australian currency worth four times (in Indonesia) what it was 20 years ago."
Iriansyah also said that Garuda Indonesia would soon announce detailed plans to increase its capacity from Australia by approximately 20 per cent to cater for holiday and business travel before the end of 2005.
Garuda currently operate 24 weekly flights from Australia
The View from Bali
Invited to represent Bali at the AIME press conference was John M. Daniels, President Director of Bali Discovery Tours, who observed that both Australian and Indonesian leader have describe the current state of relations between the two countries as "closer than ever."
According to Daniels, "relations between Indonesian and Australia are both extensive and intensive. The recent tragedy in North Sumatra presented the Australian people the opportunity to take a lead role in Indonesian relief efforts, expressing a long-standing affection the Australian people have for their nearest neighbors."
Suggesting that Bali is, to some extent, viewed as a domestic desination by many Australians, Daniels pointed out that after a lull of more than 2 years, Bali once again managed in 2004 to reclaim its place as Australia's most preferred overseas holiday destination.
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