Before leaving, King Salman waved farewell to Bali and the people accompanying him to the airport, that included Foreign Minister Mrs. Retno Marsudi, Minister for Religious Affairs, Lukman Hakim, Governor of Bali, Made Mangku Pastika and other dignitaries. The King’s original plan was to stay in Bali until Thursday, 9 March, following the State Visit to Indonesia to Jakarta and the Bogor Palace, arriving in Bali on Saturday, 4th March. However, on Wednesday the Saudi Arabian Embassy gave notice that the King wished to extend his stay in Bali until Sunday, 12 March 2017.
This decision was warmly welcomed by the government, and especially by the people of Bali and the tourism industry, denoting that the King was well pleased with his holiday on the island, and now even wished to spend more days on magical Bali.
When asked by the press what were the impressions of the King of his stay in Indonesia and particularly on his holiday in Bali, Minsiter Retno said that the King was “very pleased and satisfied” with his holiday in Bali. “The weather in Bali His Majesty found was just right, and was much cooler than in Arabia,” said Minister Retno. He took the opportunity to swim around Geger beach, just by Hotel St. Regis in Nusa Dua where he stayed. “His Majesty particularly thanked the Indonesian people for their heartfelt and warm welcome.”
Just before leaving the hotel, King Salman received a call from Indonesia’s President Jokowi from Jakarta, who bade him a good journey, and asked the King whether His Majesty was satisfied with his stay in Bali. President Jokowi also stressed the need for the immediate follow-through of the 11 MoU’s signed between the two countries in Bogor.
King Salman stayed at the luxurious St. Regis, at the deluxe Nusa Dua Resort. The King, it seemed preferred to stay around the hotel although he did take time to stroll along the beach and swim in the nearby sea. However, the princes and ministers were seen to enjoy the sights and sounds of Bali, mixing freely with other tourists. Favored beaches were the Pandawa Beach, Nusa Dua and Seminyak. They were also seen enjoying the green paddy fields of Ubud and theMonkey Forest. Some came to watch the famous Kecak or Monkey Dance at Uluwatu while watching the sunset romantically coloring the ocean in the background. Others prefered shopping at the Discovery Mall and other boutiques around Kuta Beach and enjoyed the many cafes by the beach including the Middle Eastern resto.
Tourists from Middle East expected to surge by 50%For Indonesia’s Tourism, the state visit of King Salman to Indonesia and holiday in Bali with his entire entourage of 1,500 persons was definitely of great significance leaving a lasting impression, said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.
King Salman is a very respected leader in the world and in the Middle East in particular, so that the fact that His Majesty chose to holiday in Bali, and even extended his stay here, will highly boost Indonesia’s tourism image in the world. The Minister expects, therefore, that in the wake of the King’s visit, more and more tourists from the Middle East in particular will choose to make Indonesia, and Bali , their next holiday destination. According to statistics, tourists from the Middle East in 2016 rose 30% to 240,000 compared to the previous year in 2015, numbering 180,000. Indeed, 80% of those from the Middle East are from Saudi Arabia. But, said Minister Arief Yahya, through the visit of King Salman to Indonesia, he expects the numbers to surge by 50% to 360,000. Already the two governments have agreed to increase the number of flights by both national carriers operating between Saudi Arabia and Indonesian airports.
Moreover, tourists from this region are big spenders, said Minister Yahya. On average they are known to spend US$2,200 per stay, or twice the average spending of tourists.
The visit of King Salman and his entourage in Bogor, Jakarta and Bali has also been a most memorable event for the Indonesian people themselves. The media as well as social media never ceased to comment on every detail possible. It was plain to see, that the Indonesian people truly loved the King. Even in Bali, whose inhabitants are predominantly Hindu, the difference in religion did not create any barriers.
For Friday prayers, many of the king’s entourage went to pray at the mosque at Nusa Dua, where many were amazed that here the mosque was built right next to a Catholic Church, a Protestant Church, and a Hindu temple, epxressing Indonesia’s belief in Unity in Diversity.
Waving goodbye to the royal motorcade as it passed to the airport, the people of Bali shouted: “Sampai Jumpa” King Salman! We hope to see you again soon.