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Here's the latest sample of letters we've received in the Bali Update and balidiscovery.com mailbox.
Mail grows daily from those concerned with long lines at Bali's airport.
Phillip in Bali wrote:
"the situation with Immigration at DPS is absolutely scandalous. I just came back from Singapore Saturday night and the airport was total chaos. The lines were all the way back to the stairs and because of the waits, even the special clearance lines for Indonesians and APEC card holders had been filled with Visa on Arrival people. It took me over an hour to get through immigration. I talked to one French couple who had taken four hours to get through the airport. Customs wasn't helping any either and they seem to be deliberately targeting alcohol. They now X-Ray every piece of baggage for everyone, which means line at customs, as well as immigration. Of course the air conditioning wasn't working and so there were lots of hot, tired and extremely upset people. I even saw a couple of scuffles break out."
"In short, everything seems to be designed to cause maximum disruption to tourism. The Australians standing next to me in the immigration queue were talking about never coming back to Bali again."
"It's a national disgrace. What happened to the Minister's promise to get people through the immigration process in 10 Minutes? Is he aware of the actual situation? Does he care?"
Lee from Queensland wrote:
"I really like reading your newsletter . . .Recently, my husband and I arrived in Denpasar airport for a 2 weeks holiday. We flew direct from Brisbane to Denpasar, with Virgin Blue. Unfortunately, it was March 29th, at 2.30, and several planes arrived at once. The wait was absolutely horrible, because of the heat, and queues, and only three desks open, to get the visa, and go thru passport checking. . .We stood in that queue for over TWO and a half HOURS, approx 1,000 people, in that hall, from at least three flights arriving within half an hour. Crowded, hot and humid. Then another flight arrived after 5 pm, and we were still in the queue. . . After 2 hours, they opened one more counter. I would personally like to write to governor Pastika, because surely it is possible to have more than 3 men working at immigration, with an overload of visitors waiting to enter the country. My husband is 64, and recovering from cancer surgery, he had not been back for 5 years, and now declares, he will not return. I am 61 yrs old, have had knee replacement surgery, many weeks ago, thank goodness, but after 2 hours leaning on my walking stick, unable to move forward or back, I had to rest the whole of the next day, because of the pain. Every person was paying a minimum visa of $US25, so a heap of money was coming in. Wages need to be paid, so more operatives can work, as this delay is really dreadful. We wish to visit Bali, we wish to be with the people, but this airport delay, spoilt the first few days..for health reasons."
"Only 10 out of the 23 counters having the fingerprinting capability? So, when only 4 counters are open at prime time arrivals, the wait will be even longer! While one understands the ''need '' for checking tourists, what about Indonesians ? Are they being checked as well ? Yes, I can see it now, 3 hour wait at immigration, in the non Air conditioned arrival hall, better get the first aid kits ready. For many visitors, having traveled from Europe, tired, jet lagged, just what you needed.. Welcome to Bali."
William Bacon from Canada had this to say"
"Well, we won't bother returning to Bali next March as planned. Our traveling companions, two other couples, will return to Vietnam and Thailand and not spend the two weeks we were going to in Bali. Who needs the hassle and inconvenience?"
[Road Hogs, the Clock is Ticking Down] our coverage on illegal motorcycles and luxury cars in Bali caused many to send us an email:
Jan Smith wrote:
"The Ferrari issue has got me very angry. How stingy can these people be when they drive around in cars worth over US$ 100 grand? What, can't they afford the road tax? How much is road tax? Make these people pay! Is the government serious about corruption ?"
Colin Anderson wrote:
"Big bikes stopping on the main road could cause an accident - I would love to see a pile of Harley's at every traffic light on the by-pass!"
Another Bali resident, Vald Perjovic wrote"
"I read the recent story on big bikes. To follow up, perhaps you could ask Cahyono why hardly any road rules are actually being enforced at all, whether big bikes or small. It's anarchy out there!"
[Pardon Me Sir, is this the Bali Island Choo Choo] about governor Pastika's plans for a round island train service also brought some mail:
Rodger Hempfing in Australia said:
"I think it would be a good for tourism, locals and for industry. Factories could be built out of the towns and there would be less trucks on the road, thus less air pollution. It would also ease road congestion and create jobs. The real question of course is who pays for construction and maintenance?"
Donn Dickson, also from Australia, added:
"Have a look at the railway systems that have been set up all over the world, particularly ones that run through nature parks and it would be a fantastic idea for Bali the impact would be minimal and open up fantastic opportunities for employment and tourist. We have been traveling to Bali now for over 15 years and would utilize a rail system as we don't spend our time in the well known areas and would love to see a rail system."
Coverage of violence street altercations in Kuta [Violent Rumblings in Bali's Nightlife Mecca] stimulated some readers to write:
Rodger Hempfing wrote again, saying:
"Firing guns is very bad news for tourism. Bullets have to come down somewhere. Much better to use batons quickly and efficiently and deal with it quickly, use more police if necessary. The police must win and not the gangs. If tourists are scared to walk at night they will stop coming."
Alcohol and taxation remain a popular subject for letter writers:
Erik in Holland wrote:
"Inflation in Bali, I presume that anyone of your people don't drink a Bintang or 2. About 3 years ago I could drink a large Bintang for Rp. 9.000, now only 3.5 years further and I pay for the same size bottle at the same bar Rp. 28.000. Still cheap by international standards, but if you happen to came from Holland, there you can buy a crate of beer, 24 small bottles for just 5 Euro or about Rp. 65.000. If I walk into the supermarket here then I only get 5 small bottles. I think that Bali is on the way to self destruction and is pricing itself out of the market very soon. Lucky for Bali that the Aussie dollar is still relatively high and cheap airfares from there otherwise it would be Very quiet in Bali once more."
Daniel Baker from Australia:
"Bali will be priced out of an important sector of the tourist market if the Indonesian government continually increases the price of alcohol. In the 1990's Spain increased the cost of alcohol and rooms - the result, the northern Europeans headed to Turkey ~ same sun, similar beaches and cheaper drinks and rooms. Backpackers looking for sun, beach and cheap drinks and accommodation will be able to spend longer in Vietnam and Thailand rather than Bali. I would hope that Bali can gain more autonomy over laws and regulations that adversely affect their tourism such as this alcohol tax change and others (e.g.. "anti-pornography" law)."
[Bali Tourism Becoming Less Competitive] our article on a World Economic Forum report suggesting Indonesian Tourism was losing its competitive edge:
Luh Micke Anggraini from Bali had this to say:
"Competitiveness is measured from how our products and services are exceptionally different with our competitors, thus tourists can't find it in other places. No doubt Bali has numerous accommodation and catering services which destination should not solely rely upon. Reliable public transport, immigration services, tourist objects, places of interests, to name just a few, still need to be improved for better acceptance by visitors. We can learn from other countries how to manage destination by involving national corporations to sponsor and foster tourist destination, especially if funding is a major challenge. It implies that tourism promotional efforts should be slow down as it is gonna be less effective in current situation and we need to reflect on our positioning in tourism market. For example, we can learn from New Zealand, how this country positions itself as natural, adventurous and luxury destination, with the branding 100% pure. How about us?"
Brian Grant said:
"Bali can forget being a number 1 tourist attraction now with thanks to the excise duty increase. I have had 6 different lots of friends from Australia visit me here in Bali and not one of them will ever come back. Reason?..many, but to just point out a couple...restaurants are now charging extra if you want vegetables instead of salad...extra if you want fries instead of mash....and of course the increase in the excise duty....good way to encourage tourists Jakarta. The ever increasing rudeness of street sellers...holding back change in shops...mostly circle K...hidden charges at restaurants....very bad service.....and last but by certainly no means last....all of my friends that were here would not go out after dark anymore...you see, I was assaulted and robbed in daylight coming back from the beach 5 weeks ago and it has left a scar and it has left me thinking about my future in Bali? Legian....once we could walk around the streets very late...not now...."
And finally a kind a letter of praise"
Claudia Johnson in Australia wrote to say:
"Thanks for the updates on Bali. As I do travel there because of my business - "GEKO" Linz, Austria, at least once a year, since 23 years, It΄s great to feel informed what is happening while I am not there....some articles are funny to read - sometimes things seem so unreal ...being here in tiny, extremely neat and clean Austria..... so, please keep on posting me the news from Bali - I do appreciate it greatly."