The Indonesian language Bali Post managed to surprise and startle many members of Bali's tourism industry when it published a statement by a leading national tourism official declaring arrivals to Bali were "back to normal" and the island's recovery was therefore complete.
Hengky H., Secretary of the Director General for Marketing of the Department of Culture and Tourism, accompanied by the head of the planning and law department of the Department Raseno Aryo, told the press: "Bali's recovery phase is completed and has now entered the normalization phase. Nonetheless, the Department continues to pay serious attention to Bali's tourism and other tourism destinations throughout Indonesia."
Hengky's comments were made on Sunday, October 8th, in Jakarta after declaring that foreign arrivals were back to normal levels and that the government could therefore stop dispensing recovery funds and divert funds to support the Pacific Asia Travel Association Mart (PATA Mart) scheduled for Bali in September 2007.
The tourism official went on to explain that the Rp. 67 billion (approximately US$7.2 million) taken from the State budget for Bali's recovery has been already spent to support special events, road shows and bring leading tour leaders and members of the press to Bali.
Hengky cited statistics claiming 103,700 foreign tourist arrivals to Bali in September 2006, a figure –14.3% down from the 120,978 (sic) foreign tourists who visited Bali in the same month in 2005. Saying the current September figures translate into a "normal situation" of an average 4,000 foreign tourist arrivals per day.
An Understated Decline?
The statistical picture provided by Hengky is, however, at odds with figures provided from local Bali tourism authorities who reported 162,102 foreign arrivals in September 2005. While September 2006 figures have not yet been officially released, if we accept Hengky's report of 103,700 arrivals for September 2007 and last year's figures as stated by Bali tourism office as correct the resulting picture paints a much more dramatic drop of -36%.
Balidiscovery.com will publish final figures for September 2007 arrivals when they become available.
Full Speed Ahead
Hengky was also confident that a recent road show to India and other key source countries for Bali tourism would help boost tourism arrivals even higher.
In addition to PATA Mart 2007, Bali has also been selected to host the Tourism Indonesia Mart and Expo (TIME) in 2007.
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