BALI has released positive tourism figures for the first time since the island was hit by the eruption of Mt Agung last year, having welcomed almost half a million visitors during March.
Statistics released by the Bali Government Tourism Office yesterday show overall Mar arrivals were up 15.8% over the same month last year, hitting a total of 492,678.
Australian arrivals during the month were up 11.1% to 89,466.
The result is the first time Bali has experienced a month of tourism growth since Oct last year, when the volcano first rumbled to life.
By Nov the mountain’s eruptions had forced airlines to cancel flights, including a period of several days when Denpasar International Airport was closed entirely due to ash clouds.
Tens of thousands of travellers were disrupted and Australian arrival figures plunged by as much as 20%.
In response, Indonesia’s Tourism Minister announced it was switching marketing efforts to target “flexible travellers” who were less concerned by the possibility of flight delays, such as students and retirees.
Contingencies included plans to use buses and ferries to transfer visitors to neighbouring islands if Bali’s airport was again forced to close, though eruptions subsided and the mountain’s official threat potential was downgraded in Jan.
Australia remained Bali’s second largest source market in Mar, behind China which contributed 109,939 visitors that month.
Australian monthly arrivals have fluctuated between 73,795 and 89,466 since the eruption, but were above 100,000 in each of the three months prior.