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Bali Discovery Tours
Sanur Raya No. 27
Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai,
Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 (0)361 286 283
Bali Fax: +62 (0)361 286 284
24h: +62 (0)812 3819724
BALI UPDATE # 033 - 16 MAY 1998
KURT BODMERS COMMENTS
A good friend of Bali and Indonesia, Mr. Kurt Bodmer
of Japan and Orient Tours in the USA recently submitted these comments
on our current situation to TTG. I hope you find them as interesting as
The present situation in Indonesia is very, very sad,
indeed. To see one of the most scenic countries in the world, with 99%
of the people as delightful and warm as can be found anywhere, experience
the present turmoil is beyond comprehension. We can only hope that in
the next few days, something will be done to stabilize the situation,
give the young people a chance to express themselves in an orderly way,
and return calm and quite to this wonderful land.
The situation no doubt is affecting travel plans
for many Americans. Regretfully, the US State department's bulletin on
Internet generalizes the unrest, making it seem that the problem exists
everywhere. Not true, as we know, since the incidents are mainly concentrated
in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Medan and a couple of other cities. It is a shame
that places like Bali are unjustly being thrown into the same pot. We
have great sympathy for the hotels, the ground services, the attractions,
the Spice Island Cruises and the wonderful people in and around Bali for
being unduly penalized by the effect of incidents in other places.
So far, we at J&O had few actual cancellations. Many
calls inquiring about the situation in and around Bali, but few people
sofar backed out of existing arrangements. If things get worse, we will
see massive cancellations.
What worries us just as much is that Americans, which
get very easily turned off by negative reports of any kind, now will change
immediate future plans and put off a visit to Indonesia or Southeast Asia.
The present exceptional value for money will be worthless if people feel
that they will not be safe in travelling to a particular area. Like we
at J&O, many wholesalers have come out with travel offers featuring prices
we have not seen in fifteen years! Great tools to lure the International
traveler away from Europe and make them look West. But they have to feel
comfortable and safe or they won't buy at any price.
What we fear the most is that something bad happening
in Indonesia eventually will affect the entire region. For sure Singapore
and Malaysia, and perhaps also Thailand, will see an immediate decline
in leisure traffic if the situation does not settle in the very near future.
A typical example was last years haze, which affected specific areas.
For the American eye, the haze was everywhere in Asia! The consumer media
compounded the problem by exaggerating the issue and not being specific
about the affected areas. We have to remember that Europe has had the
momentum going for a couple of years now.
Europe is hot! Virtually all flights this summer
from the USA to Europe are sold out, the air fares are very low, and the
currency exchange is good in Europe. Little do people know that when they
get to Europe, everything purchased with the US Dollar still seems very
expensive - but nothing a credit card can't cure for the immediate
So, it is dangerous enough that Europe is already
a big draw. A continued unstable environment in Asia will only diminish
our efforts further, in favor of Europe and other travel options.
They need quick, satisfactory action in Jakarta if
tourism is to have any chance for quick recovery. The elimination of the
Garuda flights from the USA, and perhaps even more so the resulting perception
of great uncertainty about the destination, was a big blow to tourism.
No one here can understand how a government can let it's national airline
deteriorate to such an extent.
What the trade in Asia can do to assist is to help
get the message out to overseas that certain areas in Indonesia, and in
other areas of Southeast Asia for that matter, are not affected by the
reported incidents. To clarify where exactly the incidents have taken
place, and where not! Jack Daniels of SIC in Bali is making a massive
effort with his daily Internet Updates, only reaching a few of us. More
widespread coverage is necessary for the American travel community in
general, and the consumers in particular to know which areas have no meaningful
incidents sofar, and are safe to be considered for a visit. A special
effort should be made to get the US State Department to isolate the areas
of incidents in their bulletins, instead of generalizing.
The whole situation is almost like deja-vu from the
haze issue last year. First, tourism to Indonesia suffered when the first
reports came out, then the entire region got caught into the draft. Consequently,
the entire region suffered from a set back of leisure tourism for many
months, until we were able to rebuild the leisure traffic early this year
with attractive offers once the issue fizzled out. The developments in
Indonesia could have the same effect, if not curtailed very quickly. The
traveling public always has other options, they can easily put off a planned
trip to Indonesia or Asia to another time.
We hope for a quick solution to bring calm to the
area. Needless to say, we at J&O are carefully following the developments
and are anxious to see the area restore to piece and normal daily life.
Editor, Vice Chairman PATA BALI INDONESIA
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