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Cripes, They’re at it Again.

Western Australian Tourism Minister Dr. Kim Hames Bashes Bali

(6/10/2013) Yet another Western Australian Tourism official has well and truly put his "foot in it" by deciding the best way to promote local tourism is by arguing a comparative advantage case that leaves  Bali on the short end of the stick.

In the latest installment of “How Not to Do Travel Marketing 101” the Western Australian Tourism Minister Dr Kim Desmond Hames warned, as quoted in The Western Australian, that holiday makers from his constituency "run the risk of coming back less well than when they left.” 

Dr. Hames made his comments while launching a new tourism campaign that features 1001 photos submitted by visitors to Western Australia. He incorrectly pointed to the "high" death rate of Australians in Bali, arguing somehow that people spending more on a Western Australian holiday would be less at risk of death and disease than traveling to Bali.

Hames, a physician, said: “We do know that there are risks in that area, and as you would have seen recently, I think one Australian dies every single week in Bali, (and there has been) a significant increase in the numbers of people with Barmah Forest Virus and other medical conditions coming back,” he said.

Australia Conceded Barmah Forest to the Republic of Indonesia?

While legitimate health risks undoubtedly do exist, a quick check of the Western Australian Public Health Website shows that territory has its own long list of highly communicable and infectious diseases, with little prooof to substantiate that death and disease are a greater risk to Australians holidaying in Bali than, say, in Fremantle.

Most peculiar is Dr. Hames' specific mention of Barmah Forest Virus – a disease that is currently found ONLY in Australia gives a whole new meaing to exotic diseases. It seems the good Doctor is suggesting that Australians now travel to Bali to acquire diseases that are only found closer to home.

In a trifecta of feeble-minded miscalculatiion, Dr. Hames demonstrates bad marketing, abysmal geography and quesitonable medicine.

Unintentionally and most ironically, Dr, Hames' statementts suggest the biggest threats to public health in Western Australia may be badly-trained and ill-informed physicians like himself.

Turnabout is Fair Play

Other interesting statistic we discovered in searching for risks of living and holidaying in Western Australia were found on the Western Australian Police Websites and includes:

The same website from the Western Australian Police reporta that in 2012 there were 91 homicides, 1,544 sexual assaults, 27,375 burglaries, 77,355 thefts and 2,444 arrests for drug trafficking in Oz's wild west.

And while Bali has a concerning level of crime at the moment, it is by no means clear that in a race with Western Australia the island of Bali wins the crime stakes.

Moreover, when considering health threats in Bali versus Perth, please consider that Western Australia offers Ross River virus, Murray River encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis and that local home-grown specialty of Barmah Forest Virus - a locale Dr. Hames somehow mistakenly thinks is in Bali.

Possibly further fueling the paranoia of travelers to Australia is the fact that the region is also home to deadly funnel web spiders, sharks, poisonous tiger snakes and man-eating crocodiles. 


We apologize for listing such items that could instill disproportional fear in those considering a Western Australian holiday. That was not our intention and we only wish to point out the extremely poor judgment exercised by the West Australian Tourism Minister is a double-edged sword best left sheathed.

But, in fairness, some legitimate concerns about public health in Western Australia do exist. Empircal evidence exists that there may be some unknown insidious element lurking in the Western Australian water table capable of impairing mental judgment.  The first clinical case predates Dr. Hames’ faux pas  when, in 2011, the Western Australian Margaret River Tourism Authority unleashed spokesman Simon Ambrose (see the link below) who stupidly tried to argue against Bali, saying, "major issues such as terrorism and health are not as relevant, if at all, when holidaying at home."

[Editorial: How Not to Promote Tourism]

Mr. Ambrose and Dr. Hames would do well to recognize that resorting to negative counter-sells runs greater risk of dissuading people from traveling altogether than it has any chance of persuading people to come to beautiful Western Australia.

Most fundamentally, both Ambrose and Hames broke the cardinal rule of tourism marketing: promote your own destination but never at the expense of a competing destination."

We will leave it to the voters Western Australia to decide how best to dispose of the ponderously inept Dr. Hames. They must  consider if any doctor so ill-informed on both travel marketing and public health has any meaningful role to play in either political or medical practice.

We'd welcome comment from Dr. Hames who is rumored to be missing on a family holiday in the Barmah Forest - wherever that is.

Truth be told, we have very fond memories of past visits to beautiful Western Australian. Lovely landscapes, wonderful wildlife, great culture and thoughful political leadership. Well, 3 out of 4 is not bad.