By John Graham
Nov 19, 2007, 08:06
During the peak summer season this year photographs were published that proved both the tourism and security claims put out by the Balinese authorities were false when Mark Austin, who is on the Bali Mafia Police’s most wanted list, claims he was able to visit the island without interception for a meeting and took photographs of a deserted Kuta town centre and beach at midday, when the place should have been packed according to official figures. Despite the official boom in tourism, hotels, businesses and even Bali’s only airline went bust. The explanation in the face of a reality that Bali’s tourism arrival statistics were clearly a pack of lies? That they were, wait for this, a different type of tourist! Ones that stayed more in their hotels and did not venture out so much and stayed a little less longer than normal tourists”! Ah, so, all the thousands or even millions of foreign tourists were just hiding! No doubt they stayed in their hotel rooms to minimize the risk of becoming the next terrorism or police corruption statistic on the island!
Of course when there is an uproar of laughter from foreign travel agents, many of whom have either dropped or scaled back Bali as a destination, plus cries of disbelief from the poor Balinese tourism businessman, the pundits back off for a while and start droning on instead about how important the domestic tourism market is, until the coast is clear. The problem in citing the increased domestic (Indonesian citizens and foreign residents) tourist market though is it means much lower profits and brings unwanted attention to the fact foreign holidaymakers are charged around twice as much as Indonesians for the same room, which only boils the blood further of potential foreign visitors fed up as it is with paying taxes at home to be squandered through foreign grants on corrupt Indonesia.
The domestic arrivals diversion from the realities of tourism life on Bali also highlights another problem on the horizon for Bali; fiscal departure taxes. You see, in an effort to export more maids and other workers to foreign countries to earn and then send back home foreign currency, the Indonesian government is going to cancel the exit tax levied on their citizens when they leave the country. The flip side to this is it also makes foreign holidays more attractive to the average middle class family, who would otherwise get clobbered financially if they flew to Australia, Singapore or Thailand for their summer vacation. These middle class Indonesians would normally be booking into hotel suites and villas at knock down prices in Bali, but not for much longer. While Indonesia has fared the worst out of all ASEAN countries with a huge net loss in tourism, Australia for example has recorded record arrivals generally and of, yes, Indonesian holiday makers! While ASEAN countries generally improved their tourism figures by 29.08% in the four year period ending in 2006, Indonesia shed 24.97% off its market share! But of course Bali is booming; just not the kind of “boom” their tourist board want you to think about though!
At the end of this year of course no mention will be found about how Indonesia failed to achieve the tourism targets they set and repeatedly lauded for 2007; focus will then shift to the 2008 tourism debacle. Bad omens exist for this already as after threatening to sue Kuala Lumpur for using “Truly Asia” in Malaysia’s tourism slogan (Jakarta claimed this was originally an Indonesian expression), Indonesia has now almost copied Thailand’s former slogan with “Smile, It's Visit Indonesia Year (2008)”. Of course the reason President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decided on this particular message was nothing to do with stealing from Thailand, in fact he hopes to attract more visitors from Siam! Actually, plenty already visit Bali as there has been a considerable number of Thai lady boys (transvestites) in Sanur recently to service the deviant foreign expatriate society [sic] there. SBY’s message was actually to tell Indonesians generally that their frowns against foreigners, which reveal the archipelago’s real feelings of jealousy and antipathy towards westerners, are not going to bring in the tourism dollars they so desperately need. “Smile. It’s Visit Indonesia” sends a message to foreigners that Indonesians are friendly, when actually they are not. This fact was inadvertently confirmed by Indonesian Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik who said “The success of the program will hinge on the friendliness of ordinary Indonesians. Our people must be friendly, show smiling faces, and all concerned must cater to foreign tourists in a friendly way so as to help the country promote its tourism industry next year."; we say fat chance Jero.
When you get the facts from the airlines and statistical bureaus it proves Bali lies through its teeth to try and con foreigners into coming on holiday there. Next month is the UN Convention on Climate Change in Bali, a farce in itself and an event which will allows the Balinese fakirs to spin yet more yarn, not just misrepresenting delegates as tourists but also performing their secret trick; MICE delegate multiple counting. “MICE” in this context means “Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions“, such as with the Global Climate Change Circus. The great thing about MICE for the Bali tourism rats is that delegates coming to an 11 day event, as the Climate Change shindig is, will each generally leave and re-enter Bali perhaps 4 or 5 times on average; perhaps flying to Jakarta to visit their embassy, perhaps taking a quick trip to Singapore, etc. What the Bali Tourism Board does is count each one of these re-entries as another foreign arrival. So each delegate on average will be counted as five foreign arrivals; that’s how low Bali’s falsehoods stoop. We can guarantee the Balinese Ministry of Tooth Fairies (Bali Discovery Tours) will herald an all time record for foreign arrivals in Bali next month, while all the hotels outside the Suharto owned Nusa Dua security compound will see diddly squat of course yet again.
Don’t believe the liars, don’t let them get away with it; Bali will never improve all the time it is rotten and dishonest to the core. Look at what real, not imaginary tourists are actually doing as shown clearly by ASEAN’s own figures; they are boycotting Bali in their thousands and with good reason. The attempt to repeatedly make foreigners feel like sheep, following another which does not actually exist, while putting probably the largest number of health and safety risks on that family if they were stupid enough to go Bali is insulting. Do not be insulted, do not be fooled, stay away from Bali until the tourism and government culture there changes, for your own sakes.