Despite calls for Australians to boycott Bali after the executions of convicted Bali Nine drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, there is no indication Australians are changing their booking patterns.
Bookings for Bali continue unaffected – so far, anyway. Although many Australians deplore the executions, acknowledging that the drug duo had rehabilitated, they don’t hold Balinese or ordinary Indonesians responsible.
Independent MP Clive Palmer yesterday urged all Australians to show their objection to the death penalty by cancelling trips to Bali. They should cancel Bali holidays and switch instead to Queensland, Palmer said, thus helping the tourism industry in the Sunshine State.
That seems unlikely to happen. Even though the executions were predictable and looming, Bali bookings have gone through the roof recently. Online travel agency Webjet said demand by Australians for flights to Bali had risen by 42% over the past four weeks, compared with the same period a year before, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Bali bookings haven’t weakened for Qantas either, with the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce telling reporters after a National Press Club luncheon in Canberra yesterday “there are a lot of people that are not upset with the people of Indonesia”.
Qantas is monitoring booking activity but sees no signs of any impact yet, Joyce said, “and our expectation is there probably won’t be a significant impact on those operations”.
A campaign with the hashtag #BoycottBali is underway and a Facebook page named Boycott Bali for the Boys was heading for 12,000 ‘likes’ yesterday evening.
An organiser of the site said it also encouraged the boycott of other countries that had the death penalty – a list that includes the US, Thailand, Japan and China, among others.
Another site, the National Schoolies Site, said it would contact young people who had planned to travel to Bali to celebrate the end of school exams this year and try to talk them into switching to other destinations.
Historically, travel bookings sometimes decline after such events but recover quickly.
Bookings faltered after the Bali bombings in October 2002 and took six months to recover fully – but a perceived threat to personal safety played a big part. Whatever people think of the executions, they haven’t made Bali or Indonesia more dangerous for the average traveller.
A Jetstar spokesman told the Herald that forward bookings for flights to Bali remained steady.
Back in February, with the executions looking increasingly likely, one of Australia’s foremost experts on Indonesia, Philip Flood AO, former Ambassador to Indonesia and former head of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told ABC News that an Australian boycott of Bali would have “no impact whatsoever”.
“Boycotting Bali, that would be silly,” Flood said.
“That’s just shooting ourselves in the foot. That’s penalising hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Australians who look to go to Bali to have a happy and less expensive holiday than going to Europe or the United States.”
Flood said that Australia provided about 25% of tourists to Bali, with “something like 900,000 Australians” heading there over the course of a year.
“One in five Australians has had a holiday in Bali. A boycott will have no impact on Jakarta whosoever, no impact on the Indonesian government – but it will affect the staff at hotels, it will affect bus drivers, taxi drivers and the people who help Australian surfers. A whole raft of people’s jobs would be affected.”
Flood added that Australians would most likely ignore any boycott of Bali – and that is exactly what they seem to be doing.
Written by Peter Needham