Bali: Paradise Lost?

Is Bali a paradise lost? Changed yes, but not lost, says the latest Lonely Planet guide to Bali. In a short extract, author Virginia Jealous recounts the event that shocked Bali, Australia and the rest of the world on 12 October 2002:

‘Behind the destruction – and renewal – of Jl Legian, behind the tourist strips of Kuta, and around the island and the colourful, good-natured interchange between tourists and locals, traditional life goes on. The household temples, sacred places and fields of old Bali remain intact; the conscious practice of rituals, culture and social behaviour that distinguish Bali and its charming people continues.

And tourism helps these traditions continue. Considerable amounts of income derived from the sale of traditional crafts and performances are channelled back to strengthen these. In the aftermath of the Kuta bombing, of course we should check our governments’ travel advisories and consider personal safety, as we should for any destination. And hopefully we’ll continue to enjoy holidays in Bali that both support the Balinese and reaffirm that the world belongs to all people to travel together without fear’.p.139

Within the tourism industry a slow recovery process is taking place. Garuda Orient has launched a ‘Back to Bali’ campaign and the Bali Tourism Authority is supporting Creative Holidays’ Bali Roadshow series to encourage visitors to consider returning.

And while DFAT continue to advise Australians to defer non-essential travel to Indonesia, including Bali, the visitors are slowly returning. According to Indonesian tourism officials (TravelDaily, 15 Jan 03) Bali tourist arrivals totalled 63,270 in December 2002 – nearly double the arrivals in the previous month but still 30,000 short on the previous years arrivals.

For up-to-the-minute advice on what travellers are saying go to: www.thorntree.lonelyplanet.com.