We close out 2005 by sharing some recent e-mails received from readers reacting to several articles carried in our weekly Bali Update. [Subscribe]
Our article on a proposed bridge connecting Sanur and Tanjung Benoa [ Sanur to Nusa Dua in 5 Minutes?] provoked incredulous comments from several readers who questioned the projected dimensions of 40 meters long and 47 meters high for the span reported in our article. Our presumption is that such construction would only be possible with long and very steeply inclined land ramps at each end of the proposed structure.
• On the subject of the new bridge, Warren in Australia wrote to say:
"Another insensitive over-developed proposal. US$75m! What would be the toll? You can bet the usage numbers are fiction. Am I a cynic? A bridge vastly increases the value of the folly of Serangan Island's past development. The contractors building such a bridge make a fortune. Then, the holding company folds . . .has anyone asked the residents of Tanjung Benoa or Serangan if they want this bridge?"
Travel Warnings and Solidarity with Bali
Bali's current lack of business caused many to write with words of encouragement and offer positive suggestions.
• Desleigh Barry of Australia wrote to express displeasure with Australian travel warnings:
"After three trips to Bali this year I am extremely upset that the (Australian) Government is warning people not to travel there. Bali has so much to offer. We tell all our friends to go over - it is not dangerous. In Bali you will meet the most spiritual, friendly people in the world. How about selling Bali to the world? How many people really realize it is a tropical paradise full of the most natural wonders in the world. Lombongan Island needs some serious marketing! Get it onto the Getaway Show (TV) in Australia, please. Bali to me is the best holiday anyone could want. Cheap, affordable, luxurious, relaxing and just too much to mention."
"The tourist marketing needs to be aggressive right now. Let's not see Bali go under because people are too scared to go there. You need the tourists and you have to capture them by marketing this wonderful island paradise. Suggest to those terrified of being blown up to travel up to Ubud, Lovina or stay at Sanur - out of the hustle and bustle. Bali has so much to offer and I want it back on the map. Get your government to start action on advertising. Unfortunately in Australia, if a tourist operator doesn't like a spot they won't promote it. Our own travel agent had cancelled his holiday to Bali and was shocked we were headed back for the third time in three months.... We need more people like me to keep going there and boost the economy."
• Peter Sullivan, also from Australia, wrote to express his solidarity with the people of Bali:
"I plan to be in Bali in after attending my sons wedding in Bandung. (Java). Friends of mine in Bali have sent e-mails saying that numbers are down and that some of them are working on half-pay pay in Bali hotels. This is very sad after the 2002 bombing when Bali strived to recover and looked well on the way to achieve its goals. We didn't need another October. All my prayers and wishes are with you always. . . The only consistent thing that we can look forward to is the balidiscovery.com newsletter each week. Those of us who return each year keep selling the delights of Bali to all our friends."
Tourism Versus Agriculture
Our coverage of thought provoking comments from Bali's Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board(BB), Bagus Sudibya, [ Can Agriculture and Tourism Peacefully Coexist?] , caused many readers to write.
• Filo in Australia offered this representative reaction to the story:
"I could not agree more with the sentiments expressed in your lead story of Bali Update #484 - Tourism vs.. Agriculture. It is the tourists themselves who will destroy Bali as a tourist destination if they are allowed to. Tourism must not be seen to equate to cheap shopping, eating, accommodation, etc.. Any third world country can do that equally as well as Bali, and will, given a little incentive and the inevitable cost increases that Bali will experience as its population becomes more affluent and expects more from its labors."
"The countryside and the people themselves are the things that will sustain tourism in Bali, not more shops, more hotels, more restaurants - full or empty. These are the precious things that must be maintained in a balance with incoming numbers. Balance and harmony should be things that the Balinese understand."
The Immigration Debate
The still-growing national debate over malpractice in the immigration office and the current Presidential campaign against it was highlighted in our coverage [ An Angry President Puts Immigration on Notice] and [ Immigration Chief Discounts Corruption Allegations]. These stories were among some of our most "clicked-upon" stories in recent memory, causing many taking the time to write in.
• One local reader, Robin Engel, wrote the following in support of President SBY's clean up campaign:
"Good, let's see if he can do it. We are all fed up with gifts to the Immigration people in every airport in the nation!"
Farewell Pak Made Pastika
• Our story reviewing the three years of outstanding service to Bali from Police Chief Made Pastika [ The Guy Who Really Knows Who's Naughty and Nice], caused Steve Bradley from Australia to write:
"Goodbye and good luck, Made Pastika . . . You have served us well and with authority that is recognized and has made a difference for the better. I am sure you are 'certain that Bali is left in "appropriate hands' when you leave. The problems of terrorism will not go away quickly and will (continue to) impact on the Balinese peoples' well-being in a dramatic fashion. It has come to a terrible decision in my life that I will not send clients to Bali over the Christmas period and at certain other times, because of the 'threats' to their well-being and safety . . . there are very few other major tourist centers around the world that I would have had this concern at this time. It is directly affecting me, my wife and six other family members who would also be there over Christmas but for the uncertainty of safety! They have all said 'not right now!' We will all go back later . . . Hey new guy!(Police Chief Sunarko) . . . be strong, be firm, be ruthless on those that transgress and make it safe and secure for those who wish visit and enjoy life with our Balinese friends.
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