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Has terrorism affected Australian tourism to Bali?

May 4, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Do terrorist incidents affect Australians’ plans and/or desire to visit a destination? Using Bali as a case study, Roy Morgan Research has delved into its latest data to find out.

The findings shine a light on Australian attitudes to visiting Bali and other destinations affected by terrorism. As Roy Morgan recently revealed, 8.1% of Australians who went overseas for their last holiday travelled to Indonesia, making it Australia’s fourth-most visited international holiday destination. Bali, visited by 7.6% of Aussie holiday-goers last year, accounted for the lion’s share of Indonesian holidays.

But the island’s popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, and the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings were responsible for some of these fluctuations.

Bali rice terraces

Bali rice terraces

More recently, the event that seems perhaps to have most affected Australians’ perception of Bali (and Indonesia generally) was the execution of drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in 2015.

The pair were executed in late April 2015 and immediately afterwards, the number of Aussies planning a holiday in Bali fell from 242,000 to 97,000. Coincidence or consequence? By October 2015, Bali holiday intention hit its highest point for the year (334,000), so if May’s slump was the result of the execution, then it didn’t last long.

Years earlier, in September 2002, 147,000 Australians aged 14 and over were planning to take their next holiday in Bali. On 12 October 2002, the first of the Bali bombings occurred, and intention for the month plummeted to 42,000.  By November 2002, the number of Aussies intending to take their next holiday in Bali had bottomed out at 14,000. It was not until April 2004 that intention returned to pre-bombing levels (148,000).

Similarly, destination preference for Bali plummeted in the aftermath of the 2002 attacks: from 884,000 Australians saying they’d like to holiday on the island in September 2002, down to 582,000 in October and 300,000 by January 2003. As with intention, it took until April 2004 for Aussies’ interest in holidaying in Bali to return to pre-bombing levels (1 million).

The 2005 Bali bombings – which took place on 1 October – did not have quite as dramatic an impact on Australians’ holiday intentions. In September 2005, 87,000 people were intending to take their next holiday in Bali (markedly fewer than three years earlier), which dropped to 70,000 in October before hitting rock bottom in January 2006 (4000 people). By March 2006, intention had recovered (momentarily, at least), with 81,000 people confirming they were planning their next trip on the island. Preference for Bali as a destination followed a similar trajectory.

Intention and interest for Bali also experienced several peaks and troughs at other times between 2002 and the end of 2006 as well. While Australians’ enthusiasm for Bali as a holiday spot was certainly affected by both terrorist attacks, it appears that these weren’t the only factors with the power to dampen intention and interest in the destination.

Between April 2004 and April 2005, for example, the number of people planning or expressing interest in a Bali holiday was up and down, possibly affected by events such as the Australian embassy bombing (September 2004) and the Boxing Day earthquake (December 2004).

Commenting on the findings, Roy Morgan Research’s group account director, Angela Smith, noted that Bali – close and easy to get to, relatively cheap, and bursting with natural and cultural attractions – has long been one of Australians’ most visited overseas holiday destinations.

“But its appeal has vacillated over the years, especially (but not always) around the time of terrorist incidents.

“It is interesting to see how much more dramatically holiday intention and destination preference declined in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings than the 2005 bombings. It is unclear whether this is because a far greater number of Australians were killed in the first attacks, or simply because people are becoming more ‘used to’ the new travel climate in which the threat of terrorism is an unfortunate part of the mix.

“Curiously, when we examine Australians’ holiday intentions in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the 2005 London bombings or last year’s French attacks, there does not appear to have been such a noticeable impact. In fact, holiday intention and destination preference for France actually rose in the months following the Charlie Hebdo attack. We will need to wait a little longer to ascertain whether the November attacks have had an adverse effect, but so far, the prognosis is not too negative.”

Edited by Peter Needham

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