Re Viewpoint: Bali’s Leaders are Asleep at the Wheel (Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2008)

Dear Sir

I would firstly like to qualify myself to give an opinion as an outsider, without any particular bias either way as to the current policy of restricting imports of food and liquor into Indonesia and in particular its effect on Bali.

I have however been a regular visitor for some 40 years.

With the greatest respect to the minister for finance, it does seem to me to be particularly Irish to intentionally bring a thriving tourist destination to its knees in the middle, if not the beginning, of a world financial crisis. Possibly the most severe since the 1930s Depression.

No one I know doubts her sincerity and zeal in trying to rein in the rampart corruption and loss of revenue from illegal imports of liquor, but to do so at this time seems to be a classic example of unnecessarily shooting oneself in the foot.

I would like to suggest that the minister think outside the box and address the problem in a more sophisticated or clever way, rather than the blunt instrument which is presently being employed.

In a recession, people do not lose the desire to travel; in fact they want, and need to, even more, just to get out of the depressive financial bind many find themselves in.

It’s just that they are financially constrained from so doing, and therefore Bali has an enormous advantage, due to its cost structure and proximity to the vast populations of Southeast Asia.

Why throw the baby out with the bathwater when such an opportunity exists for Bali to really make its mark against its competitors, such as Thailand?

I understand that hotels and resorts are suffering a significant reduction in, and cancellation of, reservations.

Shops and food outlets’ supplies are drying up, which will lead to massive layoffs and inestimable harm will be done to the reputation of Bali as an affordable holiday destination.

This is a time to be smart and rethink a policy which no doubt was conceived before the current crisis gathered into an international storm of immense proportions.

There is plenty of time to bring these corrupt operators to account but not at the expense of your valuable and internationally acclaimed tourist industry and at a time when you can actually capitalize on this unfortunate crisis with absolute moral rectitude.

Yours sincerely


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