2016 will prove to have been a record year for foreign visitors to Bali (estimated at 4.85 million) the Tourism Department announces. Australia remains the biggest overseas market followed by China and Japan.
At the same time, figures released by the Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) shows that average length of stay declined from 3.9 days to 3.1 in 2016. That’s a significant decline and eats into the impact of overall higher visitor numbers. After all, what matters is the total number of days spent in Bali as this is the basis on which visitors spend their money on accommodation, travel, food, shopping and attractions.
ASITA itself admits that further analysis of the data is required to uncover the reason why people are not staying as long.
We need to check whether the decline is confined to particular countries or common to all of them, as well as whether the effect is seasonal. We should find out if repeat visitors make more trips but spend less time. Above all, we need to know whether this is a real trend (consistently month by month) or an anomaly caused by factors like bad weather or other external events.
Understanding what’s going on is crucial to successfully managing tourism in Bali. Failing to fully capitalise on increased visitor numbers would risk squandering the significant achievements to date. Whatever further research or analysis is required to bring clarity to the situation needs to be undertaken with some urgency so that the appropriate steps can be taken.