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Sanur Raya No. 27
Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai,
Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 (0)361 286 283
Bali Fax: +62 (0)361 286 284
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BALI UPDATE # 032 - 15 MAY 1998
As all of us watching the news are shocked and saddened
by the event in Indonesia's capital city. Yesterday, I was asked to prepare
a "personal opinion piece" for TTG ASIA.
For today's update, I am sending you the text of
that article, hopefully there are some thought useful to you in persuading
people not to cancel their trip to Bali.
What we watch on TV seems alsomost surreal against
the still very peaceful situation which prevails in Bali. All subscribers
are asked to include Indonesia and its people in their prayers that the
current turmoil will pass quickly.
Following is my text submitted to TTG:
Indonesians and those of us who have lived for many
years in Indonesia, have often found cause to complain about the over-centralization
of power and authority in far-away Jakarta. Taxes are paid to Jakarta;
decisions are made in Jakarta; permits are issued in Jakarta; plans are
made and issued from Jakarta.
However, in the current situation in Indonesia, the
above complaint has a silver-lining in that it appears that the intense
drama now underway on the National political stage is also being played-out
in far away Jakarta.
All of us are painfully aware of the tragic deaths
of a number of students in Jakarta last week and are monitoring on a day-to-day
basis the civil unrest in the Nations Capital which is receiving substantial
coverage on both the National and international media. All of us in Bali
watch these events unfold and pray that the reforms demanded by the public
and promised by Indonesia's leaders can take place without further violence
Indonesia is a country equal in breadth to the United
States. Jakarta, the Nation's Capital, is located in another time zone
from Bali and to get there would require more than 24 hours of non-stop
driving including a ferry from Bali to Java. Unfortunately, Bali suffers
from a combination of sloppy journalism and inadequate grounding in geography
when the international media depicts "all of Indonesia" or "all of Southeast
Asia" as being covered by haze from forest fires in Kalimantan. Such is
also the case when the media describes "Indonesia" as being rocked by
demonstrations and riots.
In the words of the immortal Gershwin: "it ain't
Bali remains peaceful and relatively calm. Any demonstrations
in Bali that have occurred to date have taken the form of dialogues which
have been confined to the campus and the government offices section of
the city. As I write this, students are now walking through the areas
surrounding the Governor's office distributing flowers to government officials
seeking solidarity with their calls for political reform.
Without exception, these actions have focussed on
political reform and at no time have any of Bali's many tourists and visitors
been the focus of any protest. All hotels, tourist attractions and tours
of the island operate "as usual" with no reports of delays or disturbances
to the services provided to the islands many visitors. Bali is Bali and
Jakarta is Jakarta. There exists in Bali a physical and cultural distance
from Jakarta together with a degree of social homogeneity that has prevented
the sort of violence occurring in Jakarta. Hopefully, this will not change.
Against this background, it is more than a little
irksome that Hong Kong's tourism industry watchdog, the Travel Industry
Council (TIC) , has arrogated to itself the authority and the expertise
to declare all of Indonesia as unsuitable for visits by visitors from
Hong Kong. If a more precise understanding of geography eludes the members
of the TIC, one would hope for a bit more compassionate understanding
from an industry who suffered themselves from cancelled bookings when
trouble flared several years ago in distant Tianemen Square.
Locally, a positive aspect from Indonesia's current
troubles and the world's inability to see Bali as a separate issue from
the rest of Indonesia is that an unprecedented degree of cooperation and
teamwork has emerged among Bali's travel professionals. In this increasingly
competitive world in which we live, Bali must devise ways to promote itself
and can no longer depend on promotion controlled from Jakarta and the
"word-of-mouth" which have been the stalwarts of our promotion in the
In this context, an organization has been established
called "Bali Promo" whose aim is to establish an international- standard
promotional body for Bali tourism. Detailed plans and budgets have been
prepared by Bali Promo and are now before the Regional and National Government
to secure initial funding.
Signs are positive that the necessary funding will
be made available, either from local tax revenues or, if necessary, from
private initiatives in Bali. Once underway, Bali Promo will undertake
an exhaustive promotional program that will address print materials, crisis
management, regular analysis of data and statistics dealing with Bali
tourism, health issues, international marketing at trade shows, and marketing
via the Internet.
Bali has a story to tell. The island continues to
represent a world-class tourism destination - safe, enjoyable and warmly
welcoming to international visitors. Bali's story is its own and not
necessarily the same story as Jakarta or the rest of Indonesia.
Stay tuned to the Bali tourism industry . . .you'll
be hearing from us!
Editor, Vice Chairman PATA BALI INDONESIA
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