Statistically two-thirds of the way through 2005, foreign direct arrivals to Bali have set new records for arrivals with recent performance in some markets suggesting that demand may have peaked and is now entering into a plateau.
January-August 2005 foreign direct arrivals totaled 1,044,656, an increase of 9.8% over the same period in 2004 (951,764). By any standard, these are excellent results for Bali suggesting the hope that Bali could end the year well over the 1.5 million foreign tourist arrival mark and ahead of the 1.45 million record set in 2004.
Bali's inbound tourist market remains worryingly under-diversified with the four top inbound markets Japan, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea representing 56.7% of all arrivals. Such under-diversification, especially with Japan's 21.9% and Australia's 17.6% market share of all arrivals, make the island extremely vulnerable to disturbance that could deter inbound travel from any one of these key source markets.
While Australias aggregate arrivals are setting new records improving year-to-date by 6.4% over the record-setting performance of 2004, the fact that on a month-to-month basis for August 2005 versus August 2004 Australian arrivals dropped 4% suggests that demand from Australia may be entering a plateau.
Similarly, Japanese travelers to Bali are ahead 11.8% for the period January-August against the previous year. However, month to month for August, arrivals declined by 4% in 2005, indicating softening demand from that market as well.
South Korea continues to boom, up 14.5% for 2005 as compared to the first eight months of 2004. Mirroring the disturbing trend in other markets, however, August arrivals slipped 1.6% on a month-to-month basis in 2005 results that are likely to temper the final level of improvement for the year if the current slowdown continues.
Taiwanese travelers, lured away from Bali by easier access to Mainland China, have decreased markedly by 29.5% for January-August 2005 as compared to the same period in 2004.
Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands are gradually demonstrating a "comeback," achieving numbers that are reminiscent of the excellent arrivals from those markets in 2000 and 2001.
Meanwhile, travelers from the U.K. and the Americas, although improving dramatically on a year to year basis, have not regained the momentum lost from the "golden days" of 2000 and 2001.
Regionally, Malaysian and Singapore, fueled on by cheap fares, have emerged as important sources of short-stay visitors to Bali. However, for reasons that are not immediately clear, Thailand's arrivals to Bali have slipped by a massive 39.5% for January-August 2005 as compared to the first eight months of 2004.
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