At least six people were killed when a tourist bus carrying 13 Chinese and two Indonesians crashed and plunged into a ravine in the resort island of Bali. Four of the dead are believed to be Chinese travelers, while the other two were the Indonesian driver and tour guide, who were on their way to the famous cliff-top Uluwatu temple. Another three Chinese citizens were hospitalized with serious injuries. "When the bus was approaching the destination there seemed to be a sudden engine failure," Djoko Heru Utomo, police chief of Denpasar, the capital city of Bali, told Agence-France Presse. Chinese media reported that all the tourists hailed from the Henan province in central China and the dead were in their 50s.
However, as more and more Chinese flex their financial muscle, many are opting to travel abroad -- with Bali serving as an increasingly popular destination. Recognizing the enormous potential offered by Chinese visitors, Bali tourist officials have specifically targeted China as a booming market by increasing promotion schemes there. Wiryanti Sukamdani, chairperson of the Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (BPPI), told reporters earlier this summer that Indonesia (and Bali in particular) has witnessed a stunning growth in tourists from China in recent years. “They [Chinese] come to Indonesia, especially to Jakarta and Bali, for business and pleasure,” she told reporters in Kuta, Bali, according to the Jakarta Post. “Promotions and attractive tourism packages must be intensified to attract more Chinese visitors to Indonesia.”
I Gusti Ngurah Putera, secretary-general for marketing at the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, said Chinese are now second only to Australians in the number of visitors to Bali, replacing Japan for the number two spot. “The relationship between Indonesia and China, as well as other ASEAN countries, is positive and we expect this tourism trend to continue rising,” Putera said. The Bali Tourism Agency reported that in 2012, almost 311,000 Chinese tourists visited the fabled island, a 31.3 percent spike from just the prior year.
On the whole, Chinese account for almost 11 percent of all foreign tourist arrivals in Bali. Numbers for 2013 suggest that the numbers of Chinese arrivals continues to climb. On the whole, the Bali Tourism Agency determined, about 31 million Chinese people travel abroad during the holiday seasons -- 91 percent of them choosing locales in the Asia-Pacific region. Interestingly, most Chinese tourists originate in just three major urban areas: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. They also like to spend money -- preferring to stay in star-rated hotels and, on average, dripping $150.34 per day per person while in Bali. I Ketut Ardhana, chairperson of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies Association (ASITA) Bali branch, noted that some airlines have opened direct flights from China to the Ngurah Rai airport in Bali. “During the Chinese New Year, thousands of tourists from the country [China] spend their vacation here in Bali for at least seven days,” he said.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.