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Bad news no barrier to Bali travel
Bad news no barrier to Bali travel

The recent scandals in Bali involving Australians have not deterred South West holidaymakers venturing to the popular tourist destination with travel agents still fielding inquiries and bookings.

Media interest has surfaced recently following the arrest of a 14-year-old NSW boy for allegedly buying drugs in Kuta, while Indonesian police have been investigating a brawl in a Bali nightclub where former North Melbourne coach Dean Laidley and several of his relatives were injured.

In another case an Australian woman was hospitalised for consuming a toxic cocktail in Lombok.

Australians make up the bulk of visitors to Bali with more than 500,000 visiting in 2010, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Each year almost 1000 Australians are arrested overseas and about 220 are in prisons abroad at any one time.

But travel agents have told the South Western Times although some people have chosen other destinations over Bali recently, there had been no cancellations to the Indonesian island to date.

Travel agent Emma Holm from Jetset Bunbury said the travel agency had no cancellations and was still receiving inquiries from holidaymakers.

‘‘But what I think with what has happened over there is that it’s opened people’s eyes, people are more aware that Bali is a Third World country and they do have strict laws,’’ she said.

‘‘People are just asking more questions, they’re more wary now.’’

Bunbury-based travel agent Cathie Rice said it was business as usual for Cathie Rice Travelworld with just a ‘‘spattering’’ of people choosing not to travel to Bali and deciding on another destination.

She said Bali was and always would be a ‘‘lovely’’ and ‘‘recluse’’ destination for people, despite the latest events.

Regional tourism organisation Australia’s South West’s chief executive officer Sascha Papalia said people would always have an affinity with the Indonesian island, but the South West remained a great option too.

‘‘It’s the strong nature-based assets of coast, forest and stunning inland landscapes, blended together with the offer of superb wine and food,’’ she said.

‘‘It is a luxurious destination whether your version of luxury is just getting away from it all and getting one with nature or drinking superb wine in a stunning setting, staying five-star and everything in between.’’