Bali no longer on track to reach 2017 foreign arrivals target, IDR100 billion required to help restore island’s economy: Tourism Minister

Bali’s beaches are much emptier these days. Photo: Resa Cahya/Unsplash
Bali’s beaches are much emptier these days. Photo: Resa Cahya/Unsplash

It looks like Bali won’t be meeting its ambitious foreign arrivals target set by the Indonesian government for 2017, with Mount Agung threatening a larger eruption, according to Indonesia’s Tourism minister.

Bali had been expected to carry 40 percent of the whole country’s annual foreign arrivals target of 15 million this year—that’s a goal of six million for those playing along at home.

Numbers had been way up through July this year and officials were optimistic that Bali could meet the target, months before Agung started showing so much activity.

“I had put Bali’s target at six million,”  Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said in Denpasar on Monday, as quoted by Tempo.

Bali’s foreign arrivals should amount to 5.5 million by the end of 2017, estimates Yahya—as of Oct. 2017, the island was at 5 million.

At least in that case, the foreign arrivals seems like it will meet the Bali provincial government’s slightly less ambitious goal of 5.5 million.

The island’s been hit so hard by tourists canceling their trips to Bali, concerned about getting stranded, that the province will need IDR100 billion (US$7.4 million) in promotional funds to get the economy back up to snuff, says the tourism minister.

“In total, IDR100 billion is needed for promotion,” Yahya said.

In fact, it’s been so quiet in Bali lately, that it’s been said to be worse than the aftermath of the Bali Bombings in 2002 and 2005 when tourists decreased to the island.

The big issue is that Mount Agung’s activity in the eruption phase is just so unpredictable, so tourists traveling to Bali aren’t guaranteed that their travel plans will go uninterrupted. 

Volcanologists insist that Bali is safe beyond the 10 kilometer exclusion zone, set from the volcano’s crater, but one of the major concerns is whether the volcano would erupt smoke and spew ash in the direction of the international airport, which is exactly what happened in November, causing the airport to shut down two and half days.

However, Indonesia’s weather agency BMKG insists that the airport should be clear from ash for the remainder of 2017 due to wind directions.

Even with all this drama from Mount Agung, Indonesia’s Tourism Minister will set Bali’s annual foreign arrivals target even higher for 2018.

“Bali’s target for next year is 7 million (foreign) tourists. It should not go down,” Yahya said.

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