Chinese tourists have surpassed Japanese visitors to Bali, moving into second place for foreign visitors to the island, an Indonesian official said on Wednesday.
I Gede Suarsa, the head of the Bali chapter of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), said that China had become Bali’s second-largest source of foreign tourists after Australia.
“China, which was in the third or fourth place among the 10 top sources of tourists, has now moved into the second position,” Suarsa said in Denpasar, according to state news agency Antara.
He said that Japan, which had been in second place, slipped to fourth, also behind Malaysia.
Suarsa said that in the first five months of 2012, there were 143,384 tourists from China, 64.73 percent higher than the same period in the previous year. Chinese tourists also accounted for 15.32 percent of the 1.15 million foreign tourists to visit the island from January through May.
The total number of tourists between January and May was also up 9.31 percent from the same period last year.
In 2011, Chinese tourists numbered 236,867 people, or 20.28 percent more than in the previous year.
Suarsa attributed the rise to the improving economy and purchasing power in China, as well as new direct flights between Bali and several Chinese cities.
For the first five months of 2012, six of the top 10 countries that supplied tourists to Bali showed increases in the number of their citizens visiting the island, while the other four showed a reduction.
China and Australia sent 8.48 percent more tourists than in the same period last year, with Malaysia sending 3.57 percent more. South Korea showed a 6.14 percent increase. The United Kingdom and Singapore also showed an increase, while US visitors decreased by 59 percent.