A nervous Bali gets cracking

20 July 2001

Apprehension over the upcoming peak season has prompted the Bali Tourism Board to step up marketing activities with a greater sense of urgency.

The move comes as its chief marketing event - Bali Travel Mart - comes under scrutiny.

The board has unveiled a programme of activities for the year which include the launch of a new destination website, the production of new quality collateral and the establishment of a new events calendar - all firsts for the fledgling board.

Bali is approaching its peak season with some apprehension, due to a possible change in the Indonesian Presidency in August.

The board is also reviewing its primary marketing activity to date, the Bali Travel Mart, following its first Bali Tourism Dialogue last week, which bought together representatives of the Bali government, travel trade and media under one umbrella.

A board meeting in late July with PCO SIPCO Bali will discuss this year's much-criticised event, and decide on its future.

Bali Tourism Board vice chairman Made Suryawan said he felt the show had served its purpose.

"Personally I will say it's unlikely that BTM will continue, and the government must come up with a more effective event to enhance the image of Bali."

Suryawan said he felt Bali should regroup and support Indonesia's Pasar Wisata (TIME), while putting serious planning into more creative non-business showcases of the destination.

New PATA Bali chapter chairman Ngurah Wijaya said it was time for the country to focus on quality, not quantity, in its inbound shows.

"Indonesia only needs two events - one for the international market, one for the domestic," he said. Wijaya, who is also Bali Village chairman, said the role of the new PATA Bali board, appointed last week, would be to push for greater integration of the various tourism groupings on the island, and a more intense focus on public relations.

He said impatience with Bali's marketing efforts to date should be measured against the country's recent decentralisation.

"We have only had our autonomy for less than one year. Give us a chance to put all these things together. It's time for Bali to market together as a whole package."

But with the PATA Bali chapter's Bali Update newsletter recently sold, complete with database, to former chairman Jack Daniels' tour operator Bali Discovery Tours, Bali's collective marketing from its member groups will look a bit thin if BTM is also cancelled. (The Bali Update was sold for what Daniels said was US$100.)

In response, the board is forging on with plans to boost destination marketing, despite uncertain financing. It last week boosted its secretariat by two fulltime staff and plans to launch phase one of a new destination website, www.balitourismboard.org , in September.

Further phases would emphasise sophisticated interactive elements, said Suryawan. The website will also house a booking engine, Balitravelportal.com, which the BTB hopes will be a source of revenue.

A spokesperson for the BTB secretariate told TravelWeekly East that its programme included new island-wide events such as shopping and food festivals; new quality Bali trade collateral; and a media programme to boost press coverage and support crisis management.

Suryawan said he was confident that once the board showed the Bali trade and government that it was serious, further financial support would come.

"If we show good quality results first, after a while many people will support it and claim to be a part of it," he said.

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