After a three-year hiatus due to Covid restrictions, travellers from China are finally returning to Bali. In the past few weeks, the first wave of holidaymakers, many of whom are from Shenzhen, have been taking the opportunity to enjoy the Island of the Gods again after the long wait.
On 22 January, the first direct charter flight from China touched down at Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah International airport, with a total of 210 travellers on board a Lion Air service. The new arrivals, who are expected to fill the high-end market, were met with garlands of flowers by the locals.
“The tourists who have just arrived from Shenzhen are of higher quality,” explained Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno in an interview with reporters that coincided with their arrival. “They are excited to see Bali after years of not visiting the island,” he added.
The minister went on to reveal more information about the incoming groups: “they are mostly middle-to-upper (class) families; these tourists plan on seeing Nusa Dua, the beach, and other favourite tourist destinations in Bali,” said the minister.
Sandiaga’s Tourism Ministry expects more than a quarter of a million Chinese tourists to visit Indonesia this year, with a target of 255,300 already set. The new influx will contribute to wider ambitions to welcome 7.4 million foreign arrivals in 2023.
The minister has confirmed that Lion Air are expanding their flight networks to accommodate the extra demand from China for flights to Indonesia. The Shenzhen–Bali route currently operates only once a week. The Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies Association (Asita) is advocating more direct flights from China.
“There are currently only a few direct flights,” admitted the Minister, “but Asita has requested direct flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and this will likely attract more tourists from China,” he added.
For the first generation of Chinese travellers in the New Normal era, Bali remains a priority destination. The island has long been a popular location for holidaymakers, thanks to its unique cultural attractions, beautiful scenery, excellent food and premier hospitality infrastructure.
The Tourism Ministry has also revealed that Indonesia’s tourist-friendly visa registration and visa-on-arrival services played a big part in Bali’s enduring appeal to Chinese travellers.