The Jakarta Post
Bali has so much to offer that one visit is never enough. Hence the saying, once you are in Bali, you will always want to come back.
However, for King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, going through all the diplomatic protocols to make another visit to the magical resort island could be a big hassle.
Hence, the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Jakarta announced on Tuesday that the Saudi Arabian monarch would extend his stay by three days on the Island of the Gods.
“We hereby announce that King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud wants to extend his vacation in Bali to March 12,” the embassy said in a statement. King Salman arrived in Bali for a vacation last Saturday and initially planned to leave on Thursday.
(Read also: King Salman, tourists all enjoy Bali beach)
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said the 81-year-old ruler spent Tuesday visiting tourist spots, including Uluwatu and Nusa Penida, both of which are famous for their beautiful beaches perched alongside beautiful rocky steeps.
Arief also said the king visited Tampak Siring in Gianyar regency, which is well known for its temples and archeological remains.
Arief further said King Salman’s footsteps in Bali’s tourist spots would be recorded and the trail would be branded “The King Salman Road” to attract tourists, especially those from the Middle East.
"Pasih Uug" beach (the broken beach) in Nusa Penida island, Bali.(Shutterstock/File)
Residents pray in front of three sacred lion effigies during the Ngedeblag ritual in Kemenuh village, Gianyar, Bali.(JP/Zul Trio Anggono)
“Later in 2017, we will introduce tour packages, such as the ‘King Salman Road’ one-day trip in Bali. Visitors can trace King Salman’s vacation [in Bali],” Arief said in Jakarta.
He added that the king’s decision to extend his stay meant he was content with his vacation on the resort island. “We express gratitude to King Salman for extending his vacation in Bali,” he said
The government has aimed to get maximum gain in the tourist sector from the king’s visit to Indonesia because it could promote Indonesian tourism to Middle Easteners who are known to be among the big spenders.
Middle Eastern tourist arrivals in Indonesia stood at around 180,000 in 2015, accounting for only 2 percent of the total 9.4 million foreign tourist arrivals. It rose to 240,000 arrivals last year, said Arief. “[This year] I have increased the target to 360,000 people. I’m sure King Salman is the greatest endorser [of Indonesian tourism] due to his visit here,” he said, adding that similar packages would also be introduced in other tourist destinations across Indonesia.
The octogenarian king was accompanied by an entourage of 1,500 people, including 25 princes, 10 ministers and more than 100 bodyguards. They used six passenger jets carrying more than 500 tons of cargo, including two limousines and two escalators for the king’s personal use.
Security personnel guard the section of the beach covered by bamboo fencing in the beachfront area of luxury St. Regis Resort Bali on March. 6. King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and his entourage are staying at the lavish hotel that has a beachfront view of Geger Beach.(Antara/Fikri Yusuf)
The Saudi Arabian ruler is staying at the luxurious St. Regis Bali Resort located just a few steps away from Geger Beach, Nusa Dua. The hotel’s management has built walkways to the beach and erected bamboo fencing covered in white fabric to provide privacy for the king.
While King Salman enjoyed tourist spots, some members of his entourage reportedly took part in other activities, such as shopping. Some of them visited Discovery shopping mall in Kuta and purchased several items from popular international brand stores.
Members of the king’s entourage visited the mall using several black luxury cars, according to I Wayan Puspanegara, the general manager of PT Bali Unicorn, which operates the shopping mall.
“On the first day, there were only two cars [that came here]. Then there were 20 cars the day after and then 22 cars the next day,” Wayan said.
He added that he could not estimate the amount of money spent by the Saudi Arabian visitors, but said each of them carried at least five shopping bags.
Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Abdullah Al Shuaibi previously said the king had chosen Bali as a vacation spot because he liked the sea. The king is the first Saudi Arabian monarch to visit Indonesia in nearly 50 years.
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