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Summit, Obama’s visit to boost Bali’s image

The success of the 19th ASEAN Summit and the visit of US President Barack Obama has improved the image of Bali as one of the world’s top tourist destinations and would draw more visitors, illness tourism associations have said.

Indonesia Tours and Travel Agencies Association (ASITA) Bali chapter vice chairman I Ketut Ardana said the summit, remedy which went without any noticeable security glitches, would convince the world that Bali was a safe place to visit. The visit of Obama was an important bonus.

“As the leader of the most powerful nation, Obama will always draw the world’s spotlight. Everywhere he goes, the attention of the entire world will follow him.  His visit will improve our stature and image as a tourist destination,” he said.

“The fact that Obama and scores of heads of state visited Bali and their visits went on safely and securely will certainly speak volumes about the level of security that we can provide here and will create a lasting impression for the global community,” he added.

Convincing the world that Bali is a safe place has always been an unspoken obsession among Balinese from all walks of life, from farmers, bureaucrats to tourism industry people. The obsession emerged in the aftermath of the 2002 terrorist attacks, in which a coordinated bombing killed 202 people, mostly foreigners and injured hundreds. The brutal bombings shattered the island’s image as a peaceful and safe place and nearly destroyed its lucrative tourism industry.

Ardana was optimistic that the success of the summit and Obama’s visit would directly affect foreign visitors traveling to Bali in the near future.

“We will feel the impacts in the next two months. There will be an increase in the number of tourist arrivals, although I could not predict the exact percentage of the increase,” he said.

The increase would occur across the board and affect all the markets, including the US.

“The US President has come to Bali [and] surely US citizens would like to know about this island. Australian and European visitors will also increase,” he said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Indonesia Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) Bali chapter secretary Perry Markus. The summit would create a significantly positive impact on Bali tourism. In fact, he argued, the summit had already boosted the hotel occupancy rates.

“Traditionally, November is a low season for the island’s tourism, with occupancy rates ranging from 50 to 60 percent. During the summit the occupancy rate soared to 85 to 90 percent with hotels in Nusa Dua experiencing the highest increase followed by hotels in Tuban and Jimbaran,” he said.

He also reminded that the summit attracted a large number of journalists from various influential international media outlets. Their presence, Markus said, would provide the resort island with long-term promotional benefits.

“Through their writings they would provide us with valuable promotions and we don’t have to spend a single rupiah on promotions,” he added.

As of September, the number of foreign visitors to Bali had reached more than 1.8 million, a figure that was still 500,000 visitors short of the government’s 2011 target.


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