The number of visitors from China has been increasing sharply, placing them as the second largest foreign arrivals to Bali after Australian tourists.
Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu, head of the Bali Tourism Agency, said that such a significant rise in Chinese tourists had brought fresh air to the island’s tourist industry.
In 2011, the number of Chinese tourists increased by 20.32 percent to 236,868 from 196,863 recorded in 2010. Around 77 percent of the Chinese tourists were new comers.
“They [Chinese] have started to view Bali as a tourist destination worth visiting,” Subhiksu said.
As the new global economic power, China has dominated the international tourism market as more and more people from the country are traveling worldwide.
According to data from the World Tourism Organization, around 31 million Chinese people made outbound trips to various countries each year. They mostly traveled to Asia Pacific countries.
“Bali has to increase its promotional activities to become more creative and innovative in the Chinese market because it has huge potential,” Subhiksu said.
He said that some Chinese visitors were also businesspeople who flew to Bali from Singapore and Malaysia.
Data revealed that a Chinese tourist spends an average US$174 per day, per person, higher than the average daily expenditure of foreign tourists at $154 per day, per person. The average length of stay for Chinese tourists is six days.
Hartono, chairman of Bali Liang-an Association of Travel Agencies for Chinese markets, said that generally Chinese people would travel overseas, including Indonesia; Bali in particular, early in the year in connection with the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.
“As of last year, they have been coming here in every holiday season,” he said.
“There is a growing number of Chinese tourists coming here and we would like to see more. We also hope to welcome Indonesian tourists to our country,” said an official at the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, who visited Bali recently.
Tourism and culture are among the priorities for development of Indonesia-China bilateral relations, in addition to trade and investment. Bali is long renowned for its links with Chinese people. Chinese influences on Balinese culture and traditions are evident until now. Chinese ornaments, including old Chinese coins and prada-gold printed textiles, are extensively used for various rituals and traditional costumes.
Despite the global economic crisis, the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad rose 5.2 percent in 2009 to 42.2 million, up from less than 7 million in 2001, while total spending rose 16 percent from 2008 to about $42 billion.
IB Ngurah Wijaya, head of the Bali Tourism Board, also said Bali had to provide facilities to cater for tourists coming from China and other countries.Bali now has 766 tourist guides who speak Mandarin, which is inadequate to cater for the rising number of Mandarin-speaking visitors.