One of Australia's leading private security companies, SNP Security, recently completed an intensive four-day safety audit of Bali and its tourism industry that tracked significant improvements in the Island's approach to safety and security.
The Managing Director of SNP Security, Tom Roche, said Bali today is in a visibly and vastly more improved security situation than ever before.
SNP Security was commissioned to conduct the audit by the Sydney-based Public Affairs company S2i Communications who are seeking to quantify claims of security improvements in Bali.
S2i CEO, Wayne Tregaskis, insisted that any revised assessments of security in Bali must be based on tangible facts. "Any claims of Bali being a safe destination for travelers to visit, needs to be treated seriously and the security audit was one such way of doing that," said Tregaskis.
"What the SNP Security audit has provided is evidence that it is an appropriate time for Bali to resume its place on the list of desirable holiday destinations for Australians," he added.
Continuing, "it has also provided an opportunity for those promoting the island to do so with a higher degree of confidence in relation to safety and security matters."
"Certainly travelers everywhere need to maintain a higher level of security consciousness than they did prior to 9/11, but Bali can no longer be singled out as being any less secure than any of the other destinations of the world such as London, New York or Madrid."
SNP Security holds the security contract for Sydney Airport, and has done so for the past 38 years. It also services such iconic buildings as the Sydney Opera House as well as a number of key installations around Sydney and beyond.
SNP's Managing Director Roche said that security efforts in Bali have been shared by private tourism operators on the island such as hotels, resorts and restaurants, and the Government itself at various levels. "Bali has recognized that it simply can't flourish without a viable tourism industry – it's the island's number one revenue generator – and this realization is reflected in the upgraded security status across the island," said Roche.
The four-day audit of major tourism facilities included popular visitor precincts such as Kuta, Legian and Seminyak as well as the high-end luxury hotels and restaurants in such areas as Nusa Dua and Jimbaran.
While a highly experienced counter-terrorism operative at SNP met with senior Government officials including the island's new Chief of Police, Inspector General Paulus Purwoko, and members of the government intelligence unit, most of the specialist's visits were unannounced and covert, day and night, ensuring 'real time' assessment of the security situation.
“Things have improved in Bali and the local population, along with its visitors, mutually share a 'sentiment of security' which works at many levels around the island," explained Roche.
Roche stated, "in essence, there are two major policing organizations in place – the very vigilant community security (pecalang) and the official government organizations such as the police, military and counter-terrorism units. These resources, combined with upgraded, international standard training for the island's many private security companies, have ensured that the overall situation has taken a positive leap forward."
"Travelers, particularly Australian travelers, are a resilient lot which is why numbers are slowly returning to the island, along with increasing numbers from other parts of the world too, particularly Europe which is burgeoning in terms of visitors," Roche postulated.
Separately, the Chairman of the Bali Hotels Association (BHA) Michael Burchett, said the SNP Security audit was a timely exercise, reviewing as it did, many of the recommendations put forward in the 2005 Bali Security Plan. "We have one of the most beautiful places on earth in Bali, we just won the 'Readers Choice' award from 'Travel and Leisure' magazine for 'World's Best Island Destination' and we feature some of the most spectacular resorts in the world – but people need to feel safe and secure which is why this effort is so important," said Burchett. "Unfortunately,", he added, "Bali was not the only victim as London, Madrid and New York have also suffered the ravages of terrorist attacks, but I must say Bali is better prepared today than it ever has been to cope with the kind of threats we all face, and I can confidently say we are now ever-vigilant and well-prepared."
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Bagus Sudibya, Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), also expressed his satisfaction that the audit had been carried out, saying, "it is satisfying to have an independent and expert body make the judgment that improvements have been made in Bali in terms of security. Bali has suffered as a result of travel warnings that we believe are excessive and not a true reflection of any actual security threat here. We are trying to ensure all levels of government and the community, are contributing to the overall security of the island. Bali remains a wonderful place to live and is a wonderful place to visit."
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