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The State of Tourism Recovery, Visa Simplification and Taxis - Caused People to Write Us.

Bali News:
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Who Says Bali Tourism Has Recovered

Our recap of the former Chief of Bali Tourism, Dr. Gede Pitana's comments in [Who Says Bali Tourism Has Recovered? Part II] drew many comments.

• Mr. Michael Morrisser from Australia wrote:

"I have to say I don't think the government is really helping the tourist industry. The word here in Australia is that Denpasar arrivals are chaotic, more so than ever, with the new (tax) visa setup. Together with other internal troubles in Indonesia this tends to scare off travelers, and SARS is still a threat. Know you guys on Bali can't do much about problems throughout the Republic, and SARS is also outside your control, BUT, when every travel agent in Australia is groaning about complaints over the visa problem, and you have shut out the long term retirees who used to winter for 60 days in Bali in that lovely sun and spend their money, your tourist industry must share some of the blame; and right now with rising fuel prices in Australia, I bet you would have picked up more old grey nomads for the winter, now they will go to the Philippines once the election is over, 59 day stay, no visa cost, so easy!"

• Steve Bradley, also from Australia, wrote:

"My wife and I have just returned from a 7 day trip back to Bali ... and for the first time in years, traveled during a 'peak time' of Perth school holidays. The flights were full for all airlines at that time, however, it was amazing to see so few people on the streets. We spent time in both Kuta and Ubud and noticed how few tourists were actually out and about. The road works in Kuta/Legian may have had something to do with that. There is a marked increase in Police presence, even more so than last year and more restaurants! There are too many hotels competing for the current volume of traffic and this may not change for some time, however the good ones will survive and prosper. The visa deal at the airport was only an annoyance, not a problem, however we were the only aircraft in at that time so there was no crowd ... We would have spent the extra USD50.00 in the economy anyway but now, who knows where it ends up? Can't wait to return!"

• A Balinese reader of Bali Update, Mr. Nengah Darmana, wrote to offer a local perspective:

"... after reading comments about whether Bali has recovered or not I think we are talking about the wrong subject here. To me we need to look at our self first as a Balinese. We need to be proactive in terms of policies to attract the visitors to come back to Bali. The Governor of Bali needs to make policies which are in the best interests of Bali, (e.g. security, clean up, free the beach areas from hawkers and look at the policies which will directly benefit local or small business). Today more tourists stay less than 7/10 days because of Airline's selfishness. These people will eat, drink, and arrange tours shop within the hotel areas - all profits going to the big end of town. These visitors will not bring much benefit to small businesses .We needs to attract more tourists who will stay more that one month then this will benefit local or small business and my Balinese brothers and sisters ... I hope the local government has the guts to say to the people in Jakarta, we need have a policy which benefit us first. If they charge $US 25 entry fee, fair enough, but they should be allowed to stay more than 1 month without visa requirements."

• Tara Caruto, wrote to say:

"I've noticed over the years that advertised packages to Bali are getting shorter and shorter. We used to go for a month, as we got older and busier that dropped to two weeks. Lately I have noticed advertisements for four night packages and wondered who would bother to go to Bali for four days. This is an extreme example but six nights is still really common. Maybe it comes back to the tour operators ... come on guys give us a bit more time."

Visa Process to be Simplified

Our coverage of promises from the immigration department to simplify the processing of visas on arrival [Visa Process to be Simplified] evoked readers to respond.

Repesse wrote to comment:

"Visa process to be simplified sounds a little bit like an absurd tasteless joke to many foreigners ... Have those who are responsible with this absurd measure calculated the number of foreign tourists who have chosen other neighboring destinations in order to avoid immigration harassment? Not only domestically unpopular, but it was so badly implemented that no Indonesian Embassy abroad could accurately explain its effective regulation and coming into effect for months ... Not only this new visa policy is absurd and going against the interest of the people, but had it been a little more closely thought out, simplifying its process would not have been necessary. Waiting at the airport for up to three hours after more than an average sixteen hours of travel is unacceptable and plain ridiculous. Admitting that this procedure will be simplified four months after its actual implementation is just as absurd."

• A reader in Indonesia, Sarah Hillier, wrote:

"It will be good if this were to be simplified but I think they should allow visitors to pay US$50 for a two month stay. Making people leave after 30 days when they could stay longer before means they will probably move on to Phuket or another holiday destination and spend their $$ there. Lots of schools have their summer breaks coming up (June-Aug)."

Metered Taxis Operating Again at The Westin Resort

Our coverage on a "settlement" between rival Bali Taxi and the Kowinu Taxi Cooperative in Nusa Dua in [Metered Taxis Operating Again at The Westin Resort] gave one reader the chance to make some general observations about taxi service in Bali.

• John Grosvenor, from New South Wales in Australia said:

"When in Bali, we use the taxis rather than rent a car and regularly travel as far afield as Soka and Ubud, plus local trips. From many bad experiences we now only use Bali Taxi; or if no other choice; the dark green fleet. The local, mainly white taxis are:- dirty, rarely air conditioned, often rude and the meters often charge higher (I know they should not) than Bali Taxi. Sometimes when I wait to select a Bali Taxi I get abuse from the local drivers ... I guess when the local co-ops work out why regular tourists avoid them they may respond by lifting their game.....Otherwise my experiences in Bali make me return again and again despite Yusril Mahendra's poorly executed visa fiasco!"

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