Despite reports in the Australian media claiming growing support for a "boycott Bali" movement in response to an anticipated guilty verdict and prison sentence for Shapelle Corby, the Australian woman discovered with 4.1 kilograms of marijuana in her baggage last October at Bali's airport, an informal survey of airlines and major travel wholesalers selling Bali travel suggests little impact on holiday bookings to the island.
Corby, a 27 year-old native of Queensland, is scheduled to be sentenced in a Denpasar Court on Friday, May 27, 2005. Claiming complete innocence of the charges against her, Corby's defense team have maintained that their client is the unwitting victim of a bungled drug shipment scheme operated within Australia by airline baggage handlers. Indonesian prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty in the current case, but Corby, if convicted, could still receive a prison term of life in prison if the maximum penalty is imposed.
No Discernable Effect on Bookings
Despite reports in the Australian press that as much as 70% of Australian agents are joining a "boycott Bali" movement as a response to the Corby case, an informal survey of airlines and travel wholesalers promoting Bali holidays conducted by balidiscovery.com would indicate little or no response to the boycott call.
Garuda Indonesia and Air Paradise, two of the four airlines operating between major Australian gateways and Bali, are reporting stable load factors and booking patterns generally equal or better than 2004. Moreover, both airlines are adding additional flight capacity in June in order to keep up with demand, a traditional peak season for travel to Bali.
Similarly, calls to selected Bali travel wholesalers in Australia reveal that, based on current levels of business, there is generalized optimism that bookings to Bali for 2005 will exceed the record-breaking performance of 2004.
While May bookings to Bali fall into the traditionally "low period," forward bookings for June and beyond remain very buoyant demonstrating strong market growth to Bali.
Wholesalers contacted by balidiscovery.com reported either no cancellations or, at most, a handful of cancelled holidays that could be directly linked with the Corby case and the boycott call.
Latest statistics from immigration authorities at Bali's international airport show Australians visiting the island in record numbers, while hotels in the areas of the island most favored by Australian visitors are almost all reporting being nearly "fully booked" for the month of June.
2004 was a record year for Australian direct arrivals to Bali totaling 267,520. Figures compiled during the first four months of 2005 indicate another strong year for Australian visitor arrivals to Bali with numbers running 7.9% ahead of 2004's record-breaking pace.
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