Aussie Rules as Japanese Sneeze

DENPASAR

Australia retained its top place in Bali tourism with a dazzling 56-percent rise, as the amount of Japanese visiting plunged by almost a quarter in the first five months of this year, new Indonesian statistics show.

Japan had traditionally been one of the strongest markets for Bali’s key tourism industry but has been overtaken by Australia, which remains the top sector, according to newly released data from the Central Statistics Agency.

The number of Japanese visiting Bali from January to May this year fell 24.72 percent to 99,743 from 132,122 in the same period a year earlier, the agency’s Bali chief, Ida Komang Wisnu, said at the weekend.

“This is the worst decline. The decline was most likely caused by the global economic crisis,” he said.

In another blow, struggling Japan Airlines is to close its Bali route in October as it slashes international routes in an attempt to cut costs.

Some Japanese have said they will not travel to Bali on other airlines, as their preference lies with the solid safety record of their national carrier.

In the same period this year, Australians amounted to 213.361 arrivals in Bali, a staggering 56.71-percent rise on the first five months of last year, when there were 137.018 arrivals from Australia, Wisnu said.

Australians formed 22.41 percent of all 953.073 tourist arrivals to Bali in the five-month period.

A slew of airlines operating flights from Australia to Bali has led to more choice and, in some cases, lower fares. The latest carrier to fly to Bali is Strategic Airlines, which began operations earlier this month. Load factors are high, a Bali Times reporter flying to Australia with the airline observed.

Meanwhile, the number of Taiwanese visiting Bali rose 13.83 percent from May to June this year to 54,828, and Dutch arrivals shot up 45.89 percent to 30,388.

Britons arriving climbed 3.83 percent to reach 29,862 and Singaporeans increased 53.18 percent to 29,862 in the period.

Arrivals were down from China (2.67 percent to 83,828), Malaysia (8.26 percent to 53,383), South Korea (7.03 percent to 48,531) and France (5.35 percent to 35,264).

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