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Image: Garuda flight landing at DPS Airport. Credit: Youtube.

Even though the Indonesian government has been busy creating 10 “New Bali” destinations, Bali continues being the favorite tourism destination in Indonesia. According to Nusa Bali, direct flight offers keep arriving from European, American, Middle East and East Asian countries and airlines. At this moment, there are 54 direct flight offers to Bali on the table.

This was revealed by a member of Commission X of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Putu Supadma Rudana, in Denpasar last Thursday. He advised that the direct flight requests must be responded to as soon as possible by the Bali Provincial Government and tourism stakeholders.

“They have requested these direct flights because they only want to go to Bali, not these other 10 “New Bali” destinations that are being built right now,” said Rudana.

“This means there is a market opportunity. Our department and the Ministry of Tourism have officially launched a direct flight from Denpasar to India. We hope Bali prepares the infrastructure to accept the direct flight offers that keep being requested,” he added.

Supadma said that if the direct flight offers are granted, then the target of 20 million of tourists (to Indonesia) per year could be met. “There are many Indian tourists right now, because of the culture and spiritual tourism in Bali. This helped Bali tourism, which was down after the Mount Agung eruption,” he said.

According to Supadma, Ngurah Rai International Airport has to be improved and expanded. At this moment, it was crowded because of the runway issue. “You can imagine we have a problem if the planes have to queue to land in Bali. We need to solve this with a joint Bali-Jakarta political approach – we need to do it together,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bali Governor, Made Mangku Prastika, said that when he received visits from foreign ambassadors and consuls, they always asked him to open direct flights from their countries to Bali. According to Pastika, Bali needs to prepare the supporting facilities to accept the direct flight offers and especially the airport. “At this moment the one runway is not enough, the plane parking area is limited. That’s why the expansion is needed and the Buleleng North Bali Airport must be constructed,” Pastika said.

According to the Head of Bali Province Tourism Agency, Anak Agung Yuniartha, his department has told the Minister of Tourism, Arief Yahya, and Garuda Indonesia about the direct flight offers. “But they always said that they cannot do it, because of the lack of the planes and the infrastructure,” he said to

According to him, the expansion of Ngurah Rai Airport must be sorted out first. “The only solution is build a new airport in North Bali. There is no other solution. It will be more crowded when there is a disaster like the Mount Agung eruption. The planes must be landing in Surabaya and Lombok. Tourists won’t come if we do not solve this problem,” he said.

He also said tourists don’t want to transit in Jakarta. “At this moment, the central government has only approved the Denpasar-Mumbai route. We already asked them to schedule it four times a week, but they only approved two times a week. They said that it was because of a lack of planes,” he added.