Japanese tourists drop to historical low
The number of Japanese tourists visiting Bali dropped to an unprecedented low in 2011 following the financial crisis and a major natural disaster that plagued the far-east nation, Bali Tourism Agency revealed.
“This is the worst decrease we have ever experienced in terms of Japanese tourists,” agency head IB Kade Subhiksu said.
Agency data showed that the number of Japanese tourists visiting the resort island in 2011 reached 183,284, a significant 25.63 percent drop from the 246,465 recorded in 2010.
The drop had also seen Japan fall from its third position in the 10 biggest tourist contributors to Bali.
For many years, Japan had always ranked second on the list before China took the position in 2011. Australia still topped the list, consistently sending the largest number of tourists to the island that many Aussie youngsters have affectionately called their second home.
The decrease in 2011 was not an isolated incident. Since 2009, the number of Japanese tourists visiting the resort island had been steadily dropping.
In 2008, 354,817 Japanese tourists visited Bali. The number dropped 9.96 percent to 319,417 in 2009. In 2010, the number dropped by a significant 22.85 percent to 246,465. Japanese tourists’ contribution to the total number of foreign tourists in 2011 reached 6.65 percent, smaller than the 9.89 percent recorded in 2010, 14.33 percent in 2009, 18.2 percent in 2008 and 21.1 percent in 2007.
The drop is likely to continue this year. In the first two months of 2012, the number of Japanese tourists had reached 28,720, a 19.93 percent drop compared to a similar period in 2011.
Subhiksu attributed the continuous drop to the economic crisis Japan experienced in 2008 and the tsunami last year.
“We couldn’t pinpoint the exact cause of the drop. But, I believe that those two events played a significant role in triggering the decrease,” he said.
He vowed that the provincial administration would launch a serious campaign to woo Japanese tourists back.
“We will focus on a promotional program designed to attract more Japanese tourists. The program will include a series of road shows to Japan,” he added.
Separately, the Association of Indonesia Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) Bali chapter chairman Al Purwa acknowledged that the continuing sharp decrease had troubled more than 50 travel agents that specialized in handling Japanese tourists.
“Now, these travel agents are scrambling to diversify their markets by repositioning their marketing campaign to new markets in China and India,” he said.
Purwa believed that the drop was caused by internal problems in Japan and was not related to the quality of services and attractions offered by Bali.
“In 2008, Japan struggled to survive an economic crisis. Then, last year, a major disaster struck the country. I think Japanese people are now focusing on restoring their economy, instead of vacations. Other destinations across the world also experience similar drops in the number of Japanese visitors,” he stressed.
Purwa appreciated the government plan to increase its promotional campaign in Japan.
“It is really important because Japan is one of our markets with potential,” he said.
Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.