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Merrily We Roll Along

Bali by the Numbers: February Joins January as Two of the Best Months for Foreign Arrivals in Bali's History. But What About Length of Stay?

(3/17/2007) February foreign tourist arrivals just released show that 2007 is setting a record-setting pace for foreign tourist arrivals to Bali. February’s total arrivals clocked in at 118,275 – a full +58.91% ahead of February 2006 (74,430), when arrivals were still devastated by the October 2005 terrorist attack. By any standard, however, February 2007 set new heights for tourist arrivals exceeding by +8.61% the previous "best February" recorded in 2001 (108,897).

Aggregate arrivals for January and February totalled 227,779 – that's +47.73% more than the same two months just one year before (154,151).

As the accompanying chart on balidiscovery.com shows, the 2006/2007 October-February performance following the October 2005 terror attack is both stronger and positively steeper when compared to the 2003/2004 October-February performance after the earlier October 2002 attack.

Japan and Australia

The results for February 2007 also revealed the following about Bali's #1 and #2 inbound markets of Japan and Australia:

Japan appears to have recovered completely and moved into positive growth area with February 2007 (28,580) arrivals up +86.15% over the same month last year (15,353) and +28.74% better than February arrivals in 2005 (22,200).

Australia is on the rebound but still has miles to go before it returns to it former salad days. February 2007 arrivals (9,498) improved +62.41% over February 2006 (5,848), but were still down -42.78% when compared to the less terror-affected February of 2005 (16,599).

But What About Length of Stay

The strong arrival figures for January and February seem inconsistent with soft occupancy rates reported by many Bali hotels and attractions operators. Worthy of further study are the following areas which may serve to explain this seeming anomaly:

• Despite national tourism figures suggesting an average-length-of-stay of slightly more than 9 days, Bali's length-of-stay appears to be substantially shorter. This fact is supported by the overwhelming preponderance of 7-day visas-on-arrival as opposed to 30-day visa purchased at Bali's airport.

• A substantially shorter length-of-stay, as compared to just 4 or 5 years ago when European and American travellers played a larger role in Bali tourism, means Bali must now generate two to three times more visitors to achieve the same number of "bed nights" it enjoyed in the past.

• Recent surveys have also suggested that as many as 20% of Bali's visitors are now staying in "private villas" - a fact that would have a strong negative impact on Hotel occupancies, tax revenues and local restaurant billings.