Following the 20-year sentence handed down to 27 year-old Shapelle Corby for drug smuggling on Friday, May 27, the Bali tourism industry has expressed its dismay at reports in the Australian press of calls to boycott tourism in Bali.
"Any threat by travel agents or individuals to boycott Bali will only hurt the Balinese people, who have suffered so much in recent years," commented Bagus Sudibya of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA). "The Balinese tourism industry has only just turned the corner in recent times. We urge calm in this situation. Bali is a beautiful destination. We continue to welcome Australians warmly and hope that the Corby case will have no impact on Australian's desire to visit our beautiful island and continue to preserve the livelihood of our Balinese people."
"Although receiving widespread publicity in the Australian Press, the proposed boycott seems to have done little so far to affect Bali's position as Australia's favorite overseas holiday destination," commented Michael Burchett, the Australian General Manager of the Conrad Bali and spokesperson for Bali Hotels Association, "however, we need to communicate this message to the Australian people in order to avoid talk of boycotts for something unrelated to tourism."
Latest statistics compiled from Bali's international airport show Australians visiting the island in record numbers and strong future bookings in hotels in the areas of the island most favored by Australian visitors.
A poll conducted by the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) amongst airlines and major travel wholesalers in Australia operating to Bali indicate that booking levels remain brisk, with very few cancellations that can be tied to the boycott call.
Airlines are reporting good loads and strong future bookings on all their flights between Bali and Australia with Air Paradise adding services between Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Denpasar and Garuda Indonesia adding 40% more seats from Perth starting June 1, 2005 in response to heavy demand.
Putu Agus Antara, Chairman of the BTB discounted the possibility of widespread support for a travel boycott saying, "The ties between Bali and Australia are both intensive and extensive. The bond between the people of Bali and their near neighbors in Australia is a deeply emotional one, profoundly demonstrated in the shared grief of the terrible losses of both the Balinese and Australian lives suffered in the tragic bombing in October 2002 and the generous outpouring of assistance and support from the Australian people of Australia ever since."
2004 was a record year for Australia direct arrivals to Bali totaling 267,520. Figures compiled during the first quarter of 2005 indicate another strong year for Australian visitor arrivals to Bali with numbers running nearly 7% ahead of 2004's.
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