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Is Bali Ready for Chinese and Russian Tourists?

Bali Tourism Chief Identifies Shortcomings Hindering Island's Desire to Develop Chinese and Russian Markets.

(2/11/2005) The Indonesian-Language Bali Post reports that in order to reach Bali's 2005 tourism target of 1.7 visitors the Island's tourism department is turning its attention to new potential source markets, such as the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation. Pointing out that these countries each produce more than 20 million international travelers every year, the Head of Bali's Department of Tourism, Gede Nurjaya, underlined the strong market opportunity these markets promise for Bali.

Beware the Pitfalls!

In comments made February 6, 2005, Nurjaya, however, expressed concern that the tourism sector in Bali may not yet be ready to host tourists from these countries before special preparations are first undertaken. "For example," he explained, "from the language perspective, most of these travelers do not speak English. In order to communicate, we must have guides who speak Mandarin and Russian. We already have some Mandarin-speaking guides, but Russian-speaking guides are almost non-existent here."

According to Nurjaya, hotels and restaurants must also start preparing to meet the needs of tourists from Russia and China. Among other things, they should prepare signs and menus in Russian and Mandarin, including signs for restrooms. "It sounds simple," he said, "but all of this is vital to the comfort and enjoyment of the tourists who come here. We must not let these kinds of small problems undermine their eagerness to visit Bali."

Bali Needs to Work at Maintaining Its Magic Attraction

In principle, Nurjaya continued, the tourism sector shouldn't just sit back expecting a flood of international tourists, dependent only on the infrastructure and services that are already available in Bali.

Bali's top tourism official thinks that Bali should be preparing and continually improving in a variety of ways its accommodation, transportation, sight-seeing, and other tourist infrastructures in order to welcome tourists from the new source countries. Otherwise, he fears, at some point saturation and stagnation will set it, and Bali could lose some of its powers of enchantment.

"If it gets to that point," he warned, "it will take a long time to rehabilitate Bali's image."