Thu, 06 Mar 2003

Tourism in Bali expected to recover in December

A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

State Minister for Tourism and Culture I Gde Ardika expects the tourist industry on the resort island of Bali to return to preattack levels by the end of this year.

He said the number of foreign tourists visiting the island should return to the normal level of about 5,000 per day by December.

The minister said that to achieve this recovery, the government had launched a massive campaign overseas to encourage foreigners to visit Bali.

"Unless there is another tragedy or bad news, we are optimistic that the target can be met," Ardika said on Wednesday.

The tourist industry in Bali plunged after the bombings on Oct. 12 that killed more than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Bali is the country's main tourist destination, with the industry dominating the island's economy.

Ardika said the government was optimistic the situation in Bali would turn around quicker than initially expected, pointing to recent data that suggested foreign tourist arrivals in Bali had risen recently.

A quick recovery for the tourist industry in Bali would be good news for the country's overall tourist sector.

Before the bombings, the average number of foreign tourist arrivals in Bali was about 5,000 per day, Ardika said.

After the terrorist attack, that figure fell to 2,803 in October and 1,170 in November, he said.

But reports on the authorities' arrest of several Bali bombing suspects seem to have encouraged foreign tourists to return to the island.

Ardika said the average number of foreign tourist arrivals had risen to 2,195 per day in December, 2,130 in January and 2,417 in February.

"We are hoping that it can reach the 3,000 level by June this year, and finally return to the normal level of 5,000 by December of this year," Ardika said.

A key factor in reaching this year-end target is improved security on the island.

"The Bali provincial police have set up a new directorate dedicated to providing security in Bali," he said.

The government also will continue its campaign to convince foreign tourists to return to Bali, he said.