Balinese tourism officials are banking on a return to the island by Japanese tourists, as national carrier Garuda relaunches direct flights from Bali to Tokyo.
Arrivals from Japan – long the second most important source of tourists for Bali, and mainstay of rainy season trade – have slumped in recent years due to economic woes in the northeast Asian nation, with China no climbing into second place behind Australia as a source of tourists.
Speaking last week national Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said she welcomed Garuda’s new Bali-Tokyo flight.
“We are happy that Garuda Indonesia has finally opened a direct flight from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport to Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Japan, five times a week. We hope that it will increase the numbers of Japanese visitors to Bali in the coming days,” she said.
The flights, operated by Airbus 330 aircraft carrying up to 200 passengers, were launched at the end of last month. Other flights operated by Garuda run between Bali and Osaka.
Airlines, including Japan’s JAL, have cancelled flights between Japan and Indonesia in recent years as tourism declined.
Garuda’s Bali manager, Didi Triatmojo said that he hoped the new link would prove successful and that it would encourage Japanese travellers to return to Bali.
“We also expect to be flying everyday from Ngurah Rai to Haneda. We are hopeful this new route may motivate more Japanese to come to Bali, and Indonesia, in general,” he said.
Pangestu, meanwhile, said that her ministry would focus on promotion Bali and Indonesia in Japan during upcoming international tourism campaigns.
“With improved quality and larger-scale promotions in Japan, we are optimistic that things will turn out better than they have been,” she said.
However, initial figures suggest that arrivals from Japan continue to decrease, with just 42,357 Japanese citizens entering Indonesia through Bali in the first quarter of 2012, down from 52,253 in the same period last year, despite the fact that overall visitor numbers have continued to rise.