Bali gets busy with rebound demand for MICE

Along with the G20 Summit, Bali's peak hospitality body is looking forward to conferences, expos and festivals.

Bali sees significant jump in visitors in April since the return of visa on arrival.
Bali sees significant jump in visitors in April since the return of visa on arrival. Photo Credit: gettyimages/NicoElNino

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 steadily.

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 trade show.

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, 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 service, Smartraveler.

As more countries reopen their borders, Handoko is confident that Bali will remain one of the world’s top destinations for both leisure and MICE.

“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 traveller.”

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