Bali’s bombing shame – are we set for a repeat?
By Bali BS News
Oct 12, 2005, 05:45
In a way it is a shame that the October 2002 bomb victims’ families were not presented with hotel bills by Bali’s clearly uncaring and often callously selfish travel industry. It is a shame that the Bali relief volunteers worked flat out almost 24 hours a day for 10 days in November 2002 to secure donations to pay for hotel bills that were otherwise destined for the victims’ families own hands. It is a shame the world never got to find out just how nasty and miserly Bali’s travel industry really is, that these people drowned in sorrow with the loss of family members did not realize the accommodation they were provided with, supposedly as complimentary and organized by the likes of the Bali Tourism Board, were about to be drowned also in selfish demands for payment.
We have been advised by a very well appointed source that only 2 hotels out of the 20 used to accommodate bomb victims and their families in November 2002 were noble and decent enough to have no intention of asking these poor people for money when the Bali Tourism Board and Indonesian Government failed to stump up the cash themselves. Where volunteers had to secure thousands of dollars from such organizations as the Bali Hati Foundation to save these poor victims from being presented with huge hotel bills, no doubt by smiling reception staff wishing them a nice day, thanking them for staying at their hotel and to come back again soon.
Now after the October 2005 bombings PATA’s Vice Chairman Mr. Peter Semone in his condolence devoid report about the latest bombings (see our associated article: Bali PATA) states that the Bali Tourism Board’s latest post-2005 bombing priority has been to support the victims and their families, and that this includes “Hosting the families of victims with hotel accommodation and other requirements”. Sorry, but we have to ask, is this going to be a repeat of November 2002? If so, the problem for Bali this time is that the principle organizer of the Bali SOS team which saved the island from such an incredible though much deserved public relations disgrace in 2002, Mr. Harry Bleckert, has been chased off the island by corrupt police officers (see our report: Bali Police Corruption) in what was, until potentially now, possibly Bali’s worst public disgrace this year. Because Harry is not there to save the Bali travel industry and associations’ reputation this time, perhaps even the disgusting episode of his being summoned for allegedly defaming Bali’s corrupt mafia police with the Corruption Commission is about to be bettered [sic] by hotels demanding cash from victims. Perhaps you can begin to see the world media’s headlines already and with them the death of Bali’s undeserving travel industry for years to come if this happens.
In fact, isn’t it a further irony and statement of the uncaring nature of people in the hospitality [sic] industry on Bali that no hotels or villas, except for those associated with one Mark Austin and his company (travelideas), who is also the well documented victim of Balinese police corruption (and worse, at the bequest of former Bali PATA Chairman John Daniels no less), was / were the only ones to publicly offer free hotel accommodation to October 2002 victims? In fact he / they have continued to support Bali’s bomb victims to this day. Sorry, but it seems the only people that actually did anything unselfishly for Bali after the bombings are made targets by an industry that does nothing themselves and where Bali’s corrupt police clearly do not give a rat’s behind about anything outside the content of their wallets.
We therefore have a suggestion to all Bali’s hotel and villa owners to prove us wrong and at the same time redeem themselves and their karma. Follow Mark Austin’s lead, advertise and offer genuinely free accommodation on your web sites to victims of both the 2002 and 2005 bombings. Don’t rely on volunteers like poor Harry Bleckert to protect your profit margins by getting money elsewhere for victims’ stays. Give something back to the travel industry, the people that line your pockets, the tourists; support the victims with actions not shallow words. Also show you care about the security and welfare of future visitors to the island by doing whatever it takes to rid the island of its corrupt police officers and other bent public officials. Because until you get rid of corruption the risk of yet more terrorist attacks and with it the safety of your guests will remain much higher than it should be.
We believe if Bali’s accommodations providers rise to the occasion, the world will look on Bali in such a way as to ensure the island then rightfully becomes a stable safe profitable paradise, where guests get what they deserve and the travel industry is deservedly well rewarded in the process. We believe this is the best marketing and PR for Bali; not the sell, sell, moan and blame others when things go wrong attitude of the past. We believe the sort of marketing practiced and professed by the likes of PATA is so shallow that it is clearly seen and reviled by travelers to the extent it is counter-productive as far as tourism for Bali is concerned. So how about this for an idea; how about if every PATA member cancels their membership and uses the money they save to support Bali’s bomb victims? We’d wager tourism and profits would actually take an upturn with some acts of compassion in lieu of benefiting from PATA’s marketing “prowess”!
How about it hotel and villa owners? How about getting rid of the corruption that helps terrorists perpetrate the island in the first place and some genuine acts of compassion for the victims with free rooms for them and their families (without tricks) advertised on your web sites? Also, how about a campaign for Harry Bleckert’s return to Bali (in recognition of what he did for you all so unselfishly before), compensation for the unlawful closure of his company by bent police officers and the immediate release of his unlawfully imprisoned wife (now under house arrest pending financial negotiations with the judges we understand from a 3rd party) at the hands of the colluding judiciary of Bali? Come on Bali, you are often pious with your words, but words mean nothing. Show the world what you have got what it takes to justify your claims to being in the hospitality industry or go and hold your heads in shame with your pockets hopefully empty.