High-Flying Bali Ups Tourism Target

DENPASAR ~ Bali has set an ambitious target to attract 2.1 million foreign tourists in 2010, announcing the goal immediately after the release this week of new statistics showing the island is well on its way to exceeding its 2009 target of 1.9 million foreign visits.

Tourism board chief Ida Bagus Kade Subisku said on Tuesday that at the end of October Bali had already welcomed 1.67 million foreign tourists which was a 13 percent increase on last year.

Board chairman IB Ngurah Wijaya said the new target was achievable.  “I believe we can attract 2.1 million foreign tourists considering the island’s tourist industry is already rebounding,” he said.

As well as growth in tourist arrivals, Wijaya predicted higher hotel occupancy rates and robust business for industry sectors including restaurants and travel agencies.

Indonesia, on the other hand, has lowered its 2010 target to 6.4 million visits from this year’s goal of 6.5 million visits which will not be achieved given the nation had recorded only 4.61 arrivals to the end of September.

Announcing the new target at the weekend, National Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik urged Indonesia’s tourism industry to work hard to minimise the 2009 shortfall which at the end of September stood at 1.9 million visits.

The Minister, from Kintamani on Bali, again pushed for a more equable distribution of the benefits of tourism on Bali which is concentrated in the island’s south.

Benefits must be redistributed to the island’s north and east, he said, again saying the solution was to build a new international airport in Bali’s north.

Ngurah Rai International Airport operator PAP 1 this week detailed a 30-month, $160 million expansion plan to equip the airport to handle 20 million passengers a year and called on the government to fix airport road access problems.

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