For decades, Bali has been the destination of choice for Australian holidaymakers.
With sun, sand, sea, and short flight time, it’s easy to see why Bali has become a home away from home for so many Aussie travelers.
It remains the case even today that the most frequent international arrivals into I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport hail from Australia.
In October alone over 122,000 Australian holidaymakers arrived on the Island of the Gods.
But as Australian travelers remain the most frequent international arrivals to Bali, Bali is no longer the number one destination for Aussie travelers.
According to travel data collected by the Expedia Group, there is a new and surprising number-one destination for Australian travelers.
Bali has shifted to second place, and coming in at number one is the Japanese capital city of Tokyo.
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Singapore is now the third most popular travel destination for Australian travelers with Japan’s Osaka and Kyoto coming in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Japan is topping the charts as the new leading destination for Australian holidaymakers. Are Aussies over Bali?
Speaking to the media about Expedia’s findings, the company’s Brands Managing Director, Daniel Finch, shed more light on the numbers. He said, “For us, Bali is always in competition with Fiji and Hawai’i.”
He added, “with Bali usually coming in first so I was quite shocked when we ran our numbers and Toyko came out on top.”
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Finch noted that Australian tourists’ interest in travel in Japan is led by the winter weather, with the skiing and snowboarding scene booming. Japan’s incredible food scene and ancient culture are both proving to be big draws for Australian tourists.
The financial side of traveling in Japan has also been noted by Australian tourists as a reason to look to Japan over Bali for the time being.
Finch explained, “As we dug into the data, it was less surprising because foreign currency is a big thing and with the yen not being as strong as it has previously been, that’s a good contributor to the interest.”
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The cost of travel in Bali is a conversation that has been playing out online increasingly over the last year. Across social media accounts dedicated to Bali lovers, there has been a notable rise in the number of comments and queries about the cost of travel.
Not only do Australian tourists now have to pay IDR 500,000 for the 30-day visa on arrival, but as of 14th February 2024, the new tourism tax will be introduced, upping the cost of a vacation by an additional IDR 150,000 per person.
Bali can’t compete with the snowy slopes of Hakuba or Niseko, but that may not be a bad thing. Bali is proud of its unique culture and tourism offerings.
Tourism leaders have frequently noted that the island is in a league of its own.
Earlier this year when the Philippines Tourism Board produced a promotional video featuring drone footage of Bali’s Tegalalang Rice Terraces, officials were gracious and took the blunder as a compliment to the island’s undeniable beauty.
Speaking in July the Head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, Tjok Bagus Pemayun, told reporters “Don’t worry too much because the tourist attractions in Bali will not exist anywhere else in the world.”
Pemayun added that “[The uniqueness of] Bali, which is based on cultural values and local Balinese wisdom, will be difficult to compete with other regions.”
That being said, a new tourism attraction in the north of Bali has caused quite a stir online.
In Nan, Northern Thailand, a community has installed a replica of Bali’s Gates of Heaven Temple, officially known as Lempuyang Temple, at a scenic viewpoint.
The new attraction has triggered mixed feelings from Bali lovers, and Thai tourism enthusiasts, as many say that given Thailand has so many cultural gems to promote, why imitate a Balinese place of worship?
Can Thailand’s Gates of Heaven lure Australian tourists away from Bali? And can the peaks of Japan’s Kiroro permanently covert Australian sun-seekers into snow-worshippers?
The answers remain to be seen in the long term.
As Australian tourists broaden their horizons yet further, as they have always done, Bali will always remain a welcoming home away from home for its neighbors.