Bali, World's Second Best Island Destination: Travel and Leisure Magazine

Bali, World's Second Best Island Destination: Travel and Leisure Magazine

DENPASAR, KOMPAS — Travel and Leisure Magazine has named Bali the world's second best island travel destination for 2015, just one step behind Ecuador's famed Galapagos Islands. Bali is the highest Asian island destination on the list, beating out the Maldives and Phuket, Thailand. The Indonesian island's natural beauty, cultural uniqueness and local hospitality are among the reasons behind this achievement.

 This is not the first time Bali has showed up on the top tier of Travel and Leisure's list. Since 2009, the famed Island of the Gods has consistently been in the top three.

 Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said that he was proud of Bali's achievement, which complemented other similar surveys held by media outlets and other relevant institutions. A prominent example is Raja Ampat clinching the top spot and the Komodo National Park securing second place on CNN's list of World's Best Snorkeling Destinations, which was announced on Aug. 9, 2015. The Galapagos rounded up as third on CNN's list.

"The 'Wonderful Indonesia' brand, which was previously unranked, soared 100 ranks to 47th place in 2015, beating out 'Amazing Thailand', which was number 83. The most satisfying thing is that we beat out Malaysia's 'Truly Asia', which only managed 96th place," Arief said in Jakarta on Sunday.

He said the government's marketing campaign strategy for local destinations is beginning to show positive results. For 2016 and onwards, he said, this campaign will continue to roll on.

Bali's tourism agency head, Anak Agung Gede Agung Yuniartha, said that Bali's inclusion in this year's Travel and Leisure list creates a challenge for the government, tourism players and the local community to preserve Bali's culture while also getting inventive in creating new tourism destinations. "This is a source of pride for all of Bali. However, we realize the need to better organize an agenda of cultural activities to maximize our promotions," he said.

 According to Yuniartha, there is much untapped potential in Bali's cultural tourism. Because of this his agency plans to boost the number of tourism villages on the island and strengthen their capacity. The aim of this program is to spread out Bali's tourism spots to other areas outside of the jam-packed southern part.

 The dean of Udayana University's tourism school, Made Sadra, said that he hopes the government will continue strengthening the capacity of Bali's customary villages because of their significant role in maintaining the island's ancient traditions and natural beauty - two major factors behind Bali's enduring fame.

 Cultural Tourism

The head of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Tourism Industry Association (GIPI), Ngurah Wijaya, shares Arief's and Yuniartha's pride in Bali's inclusion on the Travel and Leisure list, saying that he hopes the government will be committed to strengthening Bali's cultural tourism by abiding by the existing regulations.

 Wijaya said that there must be a regulation on zoning in Bali. "This is important to maintain our traditional cultures amidst the onslaught of modern development. If this goes too far, Bali's tourism spots will be damaged," he said.

 Bali sees a continuously increasing number of foreign tourists arriving at its Ngurah Rai International Airport. In 2015, the island welcomed 4 million foreign tourists and 6 million domestic visitors. However, it should be noted that foreign tourists' lengths of stay have slightly decreased over the last five years, from five days to three.

The Tourism Ministry's deputy minister for overseas tourism promotion, I Gde Pitana, said that Bali will continue to be a local hub for introducing travelers to the nation's other prime tourist destinations, including Raja Ampat, Yogyakarta, Morotai and hundreds of others.

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