by Catharine Nicol | December 01, 2017
Why GO? Looking to bounce back after the rumblings of Mount Agung, the destination counts on increased air connectivity and new hotels & resorts to drive its popularity for MICE groups.

Bali's 2017 promised to be a stellar year of tourist arrivals, with experts predicting six million foreign arrivals by year-end. But according to the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants' Bali chapter, estimations showed that 20%, or 70,000 tourists would postpone or cancel visits, many from the MICE category. The exact figures are still not yet known.

Ronald Nomura, director of sales & marketing at Grand Hyatt Bali and director of marketing and media relations at the Bali Hotels Association, says, "There weren't any eruptions or flight disruptions, but cancellations of FITs and groups were in the thousands, and there are very few new bookings." 

Up to then, the island's first seven months had started well, attracting 3.37 million international visitors, an increase of 24.46% year-on-year according to Indonesia Travel.

"Bali as a resort destination is certainly a leisure destination. Overall we do about 70% leisure and 30% MICE," says Nomura, referring to his hotel Grand Hyatt Bali. "We are also seeing an increase in MICE groups as travel is becoming more of an incentive for many Asian countries. The top three are China, Australia and Japan, with India up-and-coming."

The increase in direct flights to Bali, in particular from other Asian cities and the Middle East, is one key factor in this increase. "At the same time organisations in countries like China and India, where incentives and conferences have become a much bigger part of their business model, is on the rise," says Nomura. "The Indonesia Ministry of Tourism (Wonderful Indonesia Campaign) has done a very good job in promoting Indonesia and Bali.

In addition, Bali is looking to develop a cruise terminal and marina to attract higher quality visitors and spread the tourist dollars across the country. Pelindo III is aiming to expand the current dock from one to three cruise ship capacity, adding a passenger terminal and 90-berth marina. 

"With Bali being appointed to host the 2018 Annual Meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in October 2018, the island is expecting over 15,000 delegates and visitors. Indonesia will also be hosting the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, and this will be an ideal time to capture opportunities from Bali's rising inbound and domestic tourism," adds Audrey Wong, director, corporate and digital communications, Asia Pacific, Hilton Bali.