Nusa Dua, Bali/Jakarta. Bali & Beyond Travel Fair 2018 wrapped up on Friday (29/06) at Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center. Participants said the fair was a great success and it was announced it will return for its sixth edition next year on June 25-29.
Organized by the Bali chapter of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita), BBTF was attended by 320 buyers from 41 countries and 241 sellers from 6 countries.
Rob Haynes, director of the United Kingdom's Red Tree Representation, said during a press conference that feedback from the buyers he represented at BBTF showed they were impressed by the quality of the sellers at the fair as well as the variety of the promoted destinations.
"You can see existing destinations in Bali but also learn more about other parts of Indonesia," he said.
Haynes said about half of the tour operators were keen on famous destinations, particularly in South Bali, and the rest were more open to explore other parts of Bali and Indonesia.
"Some tour operators are focused on volume, so they tend to concentrate on destinations that are easy to sell. Then you have tour operators who are more specialists and they’re looking for different experiences. It could be an exotic homestay, a trip to the Komodo Island, or the Gili Islands, or it could be a little cruise," Haynes told reporters.
The travel fair went well despite the scare from Mount Agung’s eruption early on Friday, which caused Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport to be closed for a few hours. A total of 446 flights, including 207 international ones, were cancelled.
Badung Tourism Office head I Made Badra said the district office, which co-hosted BBTF, had prepared free buses and accommodation for passengers whose flights had to be rescheduled. Luckily, the airport was soon opened again on the same day at 2.30 p.m.
"The eruption gave us a bit of a worry because some of our buyers and some journalists were scheduled to leave the island that day. Thank God the airport was only closed for a few hours," BBTF chairman Ketut Ardana said.
Even Bigger Next Year
Ketut said the fair reached its goal of Rp 7.71 trillion ($539.7 million) in transactions and next year he wants to "make this event much bigger, better and stronger."
Ketut expects more overseas sellers will join the fair next year, which will help BBTF become an international travel marketplace. He said Cambodia and Thailand will definitely return as sellers in 2019.
"Cambodia and Thailand will have their pavilions side-by-side next year. It will be bigger than ever," he said.
However, Haynes suggested the focus of the fair should still be Indonesia. He urged the organizers to "try and push your own beautiful destinations" and said it is better grow "a bit gradually rather than too big too soon."
"Don’t get people just for the volume, you have to maintain the quality of your sellers," Haynes said.
Ketut said BBTF's ultimate goal remains to become a global travel market.
He said Badung will still co-host the festival next year, but other districts have also expressed interest to do it in the years after, including Jayapura in Papua, Samosir in North Sumatra, South Sulawesi and Togean Islands in Central Sulawesi.
"Selection will be on a first come, first served basis. We don’t want to take risks. All of them are capable of doing it. You should only apply to be a co-host when you have plenty of destinations ready to welcome tourists," Ketut said.
This year, buyers and journalists were taken on a tour to explore tourist destinations in Bali after the fair. The Jakarta Globe and 13 other groups toured Jembrana, a district in West Bali.
Jembrana already has some popular tourist attractions, including the Bunut Bolong tree and Palasari Church, as well as several resorts. But the district so far has done little branding to promote them.
"The Jembrana administration knows it has very attractive tourist destinations. That’s why we invited them to showcase their potentials at BBTF," Ketut said.
Next year, Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), which developed the Nusa Dua complex where BBTF took place, will organize a trip to their resort in Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara.
Mandalika is one of the Tourism Ministry’s four priority destinations that have been dubbed the "New Balis."
"We're building the next Nusa Dua in Mandalika. Next year we'll try to organize a fam trip there," ITDC president director Abdulbar M. Mansoer said.