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Bali's ecosystem can not handle the influx of tourism over the past 5 years and the island needs to desperately improve transportation and local livelihood before welcoming any more visitors.

The provincial administration is hoping to attract 3.5 million foreign tourists in 2014, a 10-per-cent increase from this year’s target of 3.18 million vacationers.

Bali Tourism Agency head, Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that the agency had made an initial projection for next year’s target based on several conditions, including national security, sanitation, traffic and services.

Subhiksu revealed that more than 2.97 million foreigners had visited the resort island during the January-November period, an increase of 13.38 per cent on the same period last year.

The total number of foreign travelers coming to Bali in 2012 was around 2.89 million people, 96.4 per cent of the target set.

Subhiksu said arrivals for December still had to be included before the agency calculated total foreign visitors for the year.

According to Subhiksu, the average daily number of tourists in December amounted to 10,000 people, hence there was potential for an increase of 300,000 tourists by the end of 2013.

“We are, therefore, optimistic about our 2014 target of 3.5 million foreign tourists,” he said, adding that the 2013 total would possibly reach 103 per cent of its target.

“But of course, the 2014 target is still provisional. We will correct the number after the 2013 record has been completed, even though we think it won’t change much,” he said.

Subhiksu explained that the figures corresponded to the total number of foreign travelers entering Bali directly, such as via the airport or seaport. Outside this, he said many more had entered the island from other cities, such as Jakarta.

“We hope national security will keep improving, especially during the elections,” he said. “We will also improve standards in the other areas.”

Subhiksu cited the last five years as the period of “Bali tourism’s resurgence”, especially in the total number of visits by foreigners. The number increased every year, which, he said, showed the improved trust Bali had attained from the international community.

The global economy’s revival after the world financial crisis was one of the factors driving the increase, with improvements experienced by economies that were the province’s main markets, such as European and Asia-Pacific countries, and the US.

The agency said the global economy’s revival had also resulted in increased purchasing power for citizens, who were expected to be able to stay longer on the island.

Yet, Subhiksu said, the numbers had dropped for Australian tourists. Based on observations and discussions with business owners, Australians were enjoying their stronger Australian dollar by traveling to further afield destinations, especially European countries offering cheap tours during their economic recovery.

“But all stakeholders are optimistic that Bali is still a favorite holiday destination. Visits will increase,” said Subhiksu. “As for incoming tourists in general, the number is satisfactory, so we are optimistic that we will achieve a two-digit rise.”

Similarly, Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, head of the Bali office of the Indonesian Tourism Industry Association (GIPI), was optimistic about the increase, saying that tourism had become a lifestyle for many people nowadays.

Further, Wijaya said Bali already had its own brand to entice tourists with its unique culture and local customs, as well as natural beauty, which not many other areas could offer.

“But Bali is limited in its capacity. Therefore, we target quality tourists,” Wijaya said.

Meanwhile, the Bali branch of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (Asita) suggested managerial improvements for all stakeholders.

“This relates from permits to fair trade,” said branch chairman Ketut Ardana.

“We hope the government can be firmer in enforcing regulations and uphold better control over them,” he said

(c)2013 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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Tags: bali, environment, indonesia

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