The year 2014 is being greeted by many tourism stakeholders in Bali with pessimism as many challenges need to be faced.
Although the Bali Tourism Agency has declared a target of 3.5 million foreign tourists in 2014, a 10 percent increase on this year’s target of 3.18 million vacationers, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika is pessimistic over the target.
Speaking to journalists on Saturday, Pastika said that Bali would likely find it hard to attract more than 3 million foreign tourists next year, partly due to the impact of the nation’s general election in 2014.
“In 2014, we can’t hope for more than 3 million foreign tourists as 2014 is a political year. We will be very busy with politics. But I remain optimistic that we could reach at least 3 million,” Pastika said.
Pastika said that tourist arrivals would be boosted by many international events being held on the resort island. “I remain optimistic that tourists will continue to visit Bali. As in 2013, many international conferences will be held here in 2014,” he said.
Pastika added that Bali would remain safe for tourists, despite the general election. “I think all Balinese have a menyama braya [brotherhood] spirit, and all of us realize the importance of maintaining security and peace on the island. I don’t think anyone would riot on the island as all residents love Bali,” Pastika said.
The provincial Tourism Agency recorded that more than 2.97 million foreigners had visited the resort island during the January-November period, an increase of 13.38 percent on the same period last year. The agency is optimistically targeting a total 3.18 million foreign tourists for the year by the end of December.
The total number of foreign travelers coming to Bali in 2012 was around 2.89 million people, 96.4 percent of the target set.
Politician and legislative council member Made Arjaya acknowledged that the 2014 general election would make security vulnerable nationwide as conflicts could happen.
“It is logical that the administration does not set a high target for tourist arrivals next year as the general election will be held,” he said.
However, he felt sure that Balinese would maintain peace on their island. “We have local wisdom that will keep our island secure,” he said.
Pessimism over tourism in 2014 was also acknowledged by Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, head of the Bali office of the Indonesian Tourism Industry Association (GIPI).
“We forecast that Bali will only attain a maximum 2 percent increase in tourist arrivals compared to 2013,” Wijaya said.
However, Wijaya said that the pessimism over Bali’s tourism in 2014 was not related to the general election. “I am really sure that the general election will not affect tourist arrivals into Bali. Based on our experience, general elections have never impacted tourist arrivals to Bali. The international community is confident that Bali will remain secure during the election, as usual,” he said.
He added that 2014 would be a challenging year for Bali for various reasons. “We have limited flights to Bali. So, it is very hard to boost tourist arrivals,” he said.Besides flights, Wijaya added that Bali was no longer a favorite destination for many tourists. “Bali is no longer popular for cultural tourism. Too much physical construction has made tourists uncomfortable. This is the most important challenge for us facing 2014,” he said. (Jakarta Post)