Bali in 'come back' plea to tourists


The vice-governor of Bali called on Australia to lift its travel warning against the island claiming security is now better than ever.

Alit Putra was in Australia for an Asean Regional Forum on terrorism, where officials and experts from almost 20 countries came to discuss ways to manage the aftermath of a terrorist attack. The vice-governor of Bali was among those addressing delegates on the response to last year's Kuta bombing and the recovery effort that followed.

Alit Putra said that Bali's tourism-driven economy was struggling without its regular visitors.

He believes there is no longer a reason for Australians to stay away from the island they once considered a second home. "Bali has now very, very safe conditions and normal," he said.

The World Bank and the United Nations Development Program's latest report on Bali revealed that tourist arrivals in Bali have recovered only to a third of the level that tourism experts had said it would.

The monthly visitor figures for the resort stand at 60,000.

The initial forecast was that the Bali blasts would dampen the island's draw potential for between six months and a year at the most. It looks more like 2005 is the more realistic prediction.

Although the Jakarta government has planned some 74 billion rupiah in aid to Bali, the study suggests that Indonesia should focus its assistance on specific needy areas, and make sure the money trickles down to the intended recipients.

Survey findings show there was a huge impact on the people - 94 per cent of respondents say their incomes have dropped by an average of 40 per cent, and 70 per cent of people say they now work less or have lost jobs altogether.

Schools, especially in poor districts like Buleleng and Karangasem, report higher student dropout rates, and are girding themselves for even lower attendance figures when the school year begins next month.

The study team's final recommendation is for Bali and the rest of Indonesia to seek a more sustainable model of tourism.