Time and numbers are uppermost in Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield's final column before Christmas
First, of course, season’s greetings and our Travel team wishes all our readers a happy festive time. It’s been quite a year and we all thank you for reading us. I hope Santa comes down your chimney — a job that soots him.
OUT & ABOUT
This time last year, I was still thinking that 2022 was going to be pretty quiet. We were in and out of other parts of Australia, still concentrating on WA, and if a cruise ship came near our coast, the good old WA Government did all but sent a gunship out.
But it didn’t play out like that at all, did it . . .
We’ve been out and about, around the world, living with the pandemic and a bit of bumpy travel. There’s a recap of the year in this edition.
CUE THE QUEUE
Just back from South America, I’d been thinking how easy it is to navigate airports these days. You see a long queue, join it, put in your AirPods and, if it’s less than an hour’s wait . . . you’ve won.
And that was pretty much how it was on the AirAsia flight to Bali on Saturday evening. Here’s the tip — if you are going to Bali, you need to have
+ Filled in the incoming customs declaration online at ecd.beacukai.go.id. You can do this within three days of departure. Screenshot the QR code and save it as photo.
+ You also need to download the PeduliLindungi app. A COVID protocol app, new rules mean all guests have to download it and complete the user profile. An airline may ask to see it on check in.
+ And here’s the final tip, if you fumble round trying to do all that at the check-in counter, you just hold everyone up.
+ For all that’s being said about the cost of flying to Bali, my trip was arranged with just a few days’ notice, and the economy return flights cost $1200 — reasonable considering it was just before Christmas.
… but I set a personal record when I came home on Monday evening.
+ At 8.03pm, a quarantine officer was aboard the plane, explaining how serious it would be if the foot and mouth disease which is in Bali arrived in WA. Travellers arriving from Bali are required to walk across a sanitised foot mat after leaving the plane.
+ At 8.21pm, I was in a taxi, driving away from the airport. Eighteen minutes from my seat in the plane to a seat in a taxi after an international flight (particularly one with biosecurity issues) is, as I say, a personal best, albeit with only carry-on luggage. My compliments to all working in arrivals at the airport.
I was in Bali for the Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua’s ninth anniversary — nine being an auspicious number associated with entertainment, generosity, confidence and courage. All have been shown by the team at Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua over the last nine years (and last two and a half in particular) and I’m glad to see West Australians back there.
BACK IN BALI
I arrive again in Bali at 1am in heat and humidity and the immediately familiar musty scent of Asia, and in the stupor of a delayed flight. I’m glad I have only carry on and I’m out of the airport quickly.
In the dark streets, there are green painted local restaurants lit by with strip lights, small shops stacked with cigarettes, dark streets with no lights, motorbikes and micro cars, “taksis” and fig trees, Hindu statues and dogs barking.
It’s a re-coming, a remembrance, a retouch, and a renewal.
+ Surely everyone who goes to Bali knows to be cautious on the often broken and uneven pavements. But … be cautious even on the new ones. Along the beachfront at Legian, new concrete walkways have been laid, with gaps between the pieces. I was taking photographs, not looking down and tripped (and bruised my toe, even in strong shoes).
Now I come to think of it, nine is also a sacred number in Norse mythology — which is an appropriate connection as colleague Mogens Johansen is just back from sailing with Norwegian Cruise Lines around the Pacific Islands. His stories will be published early in the new year — particularly in our Cruising Guide on February 11 (we have a big start planned for the year).
NEW DIRECT FLIGHT
From March 27, 2023, Philippine Airlines will fly direct between Perth and Manila — the first ever nonstop connection between WA and the Philippines. PR224 will fly from Perth to Manila every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, leaving at 8.30am and arriving at 3.50pm — a seven hour, 20 minutes flight, with no time difference. PR223 returns on the same days, leaving at 12.05am and arriving in Perth at 7.15am.
Philippine Department of Tourism’s Eleanor Palima says: “We are thrilled with this announcement. It is great to see Philippine Airlines cater to the increasing demand for travel to the Philippines from Australia. After delays caused by COVID, we are sure this service will be welcomed by West Australians seeking a unique travel experience in the Philippines.” We also have a Philippines Travel Guide early in the new year.
The number of international visitors arriving in WA fell by 78 per cent in the year ending September 2022, compared with pre-pandemic September 2019 figures. The figures are laid bare in the latest International Visitor Survey results from Tourism Research Australia.
Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall says the loss of international visitors is being felt by the tourism industry. He also said that domestic tourism had “recovered and grown”, but visiting friends and relatives accounts for a lot of WA’s inbound visitors.
“Western Australians continue to holiday in WA and we’re seeing interstate visitors returning, however the international recovery is taking longer than hoped,” Mr Hall says.
And a final (more cheerful) thought as we approach the big day. Happy holidays . . . as Adam said to his partner on just this day, it’s finally Christmas, Eve. (NB as Christ was yet to be born, this story is likely apocryphal - Ed.)