Fransiska Handoko is wearing a radiant smile. The chair of Bali
Hotels Association (BHA) recently welcomed faces she hadn’t seen for two
years to BHA’s monthly meeting. “Everyone was celebrating the reopening
and that we’re finally moving forward. There’s a real feeling of
optimism among our members,” she enthused.
Since the return of the visa on arrival (VoA) in early March — which
many saw as the true restart of the Indonesian island’s inbound travel
sector — Bali’s daily international arrival numbers have climbed
On April 14, the day before Meetings & Conventions Asia spoke to
Handoko, over 2,600 foreigners had walked through the gates of Ngurah
Rai International Airport, while the first half of April saw over 11,000
inbound arrivals. While this may seem minor compared to the 476,000
received in April 2019, it’s still a significant jump from the nine
foreigners who flew to the island in April last year.
Some of Bali’s biggest source markets — Australia, Singapore, the US
and the UK — have been the first to return, with the notable exception
of China, whose zero Covid policy is still restricting international
travel for its citizens.
The revival of the island’s MICE sector is contributing to the
hospitality industry’s optimism, with the jewel in the crown, the G20
Summit, to be held within the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation
area (ITDC) in Nusa Dua in mid-November.
According to Indonesia’s coordinating minister for the economy,
Airlangga Hartato, the summit will comprise 150 side meetings in
addition to the main conference session, involve 33,000 workers, and add
US$140 million to GDP. He believes Bali may not see another event of
this scale for the next 20 years.
Like most international conferences held on the island, the G20 will
be contained to Nusa Dua, but Handoko said BHA hopes that attendees will
make it beyond the ITDC area so that small and medium enterprises and
other destinations will also benefit.
Alongside the summit, Handoko reported that Bali’s MICE calendar for
the remainder of 2022 has a pipeline of 78 international events, which
BHA estimates will attract 100,000 attendees. Highlights include the
12th Food, Hotel & Tourism Bali exhibition in September, an
international expo for equipment, food, beverages and services to
support Indonesia’s tourism and hospitality sectors, and Further East in
November, the Asia Pacific region’s “most innovative” high-end travel
International festivals are also back, including one of the region’s
biggest yoga events, Bali Spirit Festival, in May; Indonesia's leading
culinary event, Ubud Food Festival, in June; and one of the world’s top
literary events, Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, in October.
A beacon of clarity
As more and more
international leisure and business tourists return to Bali and hotels
and agents see business reviving, they can access straightforward travel
information on WelcomeBacktoBali.com, one of BHA’s major initiatives during the pandemic.
Throughout a long period of frequent and confusing regulation
changes, the well-designed website was a beacon of clarity — and traffic
numbers reflect this. The site received over 200,000 interactions in
March, with Australians the most regular users. “The website was a huge
success,” she said. BHA is currently in talks with the Australian
government to potentially integrate information from its travel advice
As more countries reopen their borders, Handoko is confident that
Bali will remain one of the world’s top destinations for both leisure
“Our strength is our diversity,” Handoko said. From the beaches to
the mountains to the culture — everything is available on one island.
The fact that Bali’s MICE facilities are in beautiful tropical settings
make them an obvious choice. The island has something for every type of