Upper-middle class dominates Bali's foreign tourists

BALI - A recent survey on tourist behaviour by Bank Indonesia revealed that most of the tourists visiting the island were from the upper-middle class, as reflected by the considerable amount of money they spent.

Stephanie Gunawan, the central bank's coordinator for the survey conducted in May, said that 65.71 per cent of foreign tourists coming to the island had spent between US$662 (S$836) and $9,898 per person per visit.

"Tourists who spent that amount of money were classified as uppermiddle class in society, based on our survey," Stephanie said.

The survey also collected other information, especially tourists' average spending, which reached $150.23 (excluding domestic flights), and average length of stay, at 8.55 days.

In the survey, the central bank divided the tourists into different levels based on the average, highest and lowest amounts of spending.

"From this data, we can also identify the allocation of their spending. This will also help tourism businesses and the authorities in making policies and plans for promotions and services."

According to the survey, the lowest spending was $36, while the highest was $9,898. The average was $1,285. From these figures, the survey team made classifications of tourist levels. Backpackers spent between $36 and $661, while the middle class spent between $662 and $1,285, the upper-middle class spent between $1,286 and $5,592, and the upper class spent between $5,593 and $9,898.

The three classes that dominated the island's foreign tourist arrivals were upper-middle class (34.39 per cent), middle class (30.26 per cent) and backpackers (34.29 per cent). Only 1.06 per cent of the respondents could be included in the upper class.

"However, if we add the percentages of middle class, upper-middle class and the upper class, the total percentage reaches 65.71 per cent," Stephanie said, adding that none of those categories was dominated by any specific country and that the tourists' countries of origin were evenly distributed in each of the four levels.

In the upper class, for example, there were tourists from Europe (particularly Germany and the Netherlands), the US, Asia (particularly China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan) and Australia, with an average spend of around $7,000 per person.

The upper-middle class category, with spending of between $1,285 and $5,592, was dominated by Australia, France, China, Germany and the US.

"We can say that every country had quite similar spending amounts, including China, which was previously considered to have low-spending tourists," Stephanie said.

"In the backpacker category, the respondents who mentioned that their spending was only $36, did not reflect their total spending, because they travelled with their families, so there must be other additional expenses," Stephanie said, adding that tourists traveling with their family accounted for more than half of the respondents, at 54.17 per cent.

The survey team were very selective in choosing respondents, selecting those aged between 15 to 64 years old, and taking into account their communication and other skills.

Accommodation was the biggest cost, reaching 20.36 per cent of total spend, followed by food and beverages (13.29 per cent), tour packages (6.78 per cent) and souvenirs (6.74 per cent).

Tourism businessman Bagus Sudibya agreed that tourism promotions should be applied to all categories of tourists from all countries, as should services.

However, promotions should be more focused and intensified on big spending tourists, so as to select only the most qualified tourists in terms of spending, length of stay and understanding and high appreciation of local cultures and customs.

"We should understand the characteristics of every tourist market, so we know exactly what they need and their abilities. Therefore, we can create the most suitable products for each market."