Summit and sun warm up tourism hopes

By / China Daily / Updated: 10:52,10-June-2022

Tourists enjoy the sun at a beach club in Bali on May 6. The Indonesian island, known for its pristine beaches, will host the G20 Summit in November. [Photo/Agencies]

G20 host Indonesia counts on flow-on benefits from gathering of world leaders

With Indonesia working hard to rebuild its tourism industry, expectations are high that the country's hosting of a major international forum this year will help showcase its attractions for visitors.

World leaders will converge on the resort island of Bali for a summit of the G20 nations in November, and Indonesian officials are hoping the international media attention on the event will generate spinoff benefits for tourism.

Authorities in the host nation expect the summit-drawing the leaders of the 20 biggest economies-will produce initiatives to bolster the pandemic-hit domestic economy and boost other nations in the region and beyond after the devastation caused by COVID-19.

Indonesia, which currently holds the G20 presidency, will stage the summit in Nusa Dua, southeast of the provincial capital Denpasar, on Nov 15-16. The event will have the theme "Recover Together, Recover Stronger".

"The G20 Summit will help restore tourists' confidence in Bali. Now we are fully prepared to receive visitors," said I Putu Winastra, chairman of the Bali branch of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies.

Winastra said that G20 delegates and participants of the side events will not only attend meetings in Nusa Dua, which is home to Bali's most prestigious hotels and conference centers, but they are also likely to spend time exploring and experiencing different places.

The people of Bali, including those in the countryside, always welcome world-class gatherings on the island as they believe such events will boost their businesses, said Winastra, a native of Bali.

Ahead of the summit, ministerial meetings and working group and engagement group conferences are being held in Bali and other Indonesian provinces throughout the year.

Since early this year, a series of G20 meetings and side events have been held in Bali and several other places. In all, there are 150 scheduled G20 meetings with up to 5,800 people, according to Indonesia's Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto.

In May alone, 35 meetings took place in Bali and other places. In mid-May, a meeting of the 1st Tourism Working Group 2022 was held in Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the Komodo National Park. The home of the world's largest lizards is one of Indonesia's top tourist destinations.

The Indonesian G20 presidency's 2nd Tourism Working Group meeting will take place in Bali on July 28-29, coinciding with an expected rise in foreign tourist arrivals during Europe's summer holiday season, Winastra said.

Foreign tourist arrivals in Bali surged to about 14,600 in March, from 1,310 in February. The March numbers were the highest in two years, according to Indonesia's Central Bureau of Statistics.

Sharp rise in visitors

The sharp rise in arrivals followed the reopening, on Feb 4, of Bali to international flights, thanks to a significant drop in the country's daily COVID-19 case numbers. Australians, Germans and British are leading the way. Before the pandemic, China ranked among top three source markets for visitors.

In May, the Indonesian government began to issue special visas on arrival for tourists from 29 countries, including China. PCR tests are no longer required if travelers have been fully vaccinated. Most travel restrictions have been lifted.

Winastra attributes the revived visitor interest, to some extent, to the attention around the summit.

Also upbeat on the industry's prospects is Putu Edy, a tour operator who manages cars for G20 meeting participants.

Edy said that he has already benefited from the various G20-related meetings already held on the island. In addition, visitor groups unrelated to G20 meetings-from France and other European countries-had booked his service for July until November, he said. Some of those travelers will first visit Central Java before coming to Bali.

"The G20 gives us new hope. Our spirit has been uplifted to see hotels are now filled again. Villagers have begun to sell souvenirs and are also ready for traditional dance shows," Edy said. He said foreign travelers in contact with him are generally aware of the G20 Summit.

On May 28, over 200 participants in the Seventh Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that took place in Nusa Dua visited Penglipuran village in a scenic highland area. Like other community-based tourist destinations in Bali, Penglipuran-a 90-minute drive from Denpasar-has a well-preserved culture.

As was the case with other similar villages, Penglipuran had been closed for two years due to the pandemic. But since last month, it came back to life as more visitors return, said Wayan Sumiarsa, a local tourism manager.

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