The threat of terrorism throughout the region has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Australian holiday goers who continue to flock to the resort beaches of Bali, despite travel warnings from foreign governments.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found visitors heading to Indonesia increased 8 percent year on year as of March — equivalent to 1.22 million visitors — even with high profile terror attacks in Jakarta in the lead up to the period and raids across the country.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs warns travellers to Indonesia to be vigilant and exercise caution, particularly in the wake of the May 25 suicide attack in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta. The Department recommends Australians avoid visiting Papua, West Papua and restive terror hotspot Central Sulawesi.
Bali itself has not sustained a serious terror attack since the 2005 bombing which killed 20 and injured over 100 tourists and locals.
“I still see Indonesia as a higher risk destination than London but people soon forget the dangers as time passes without an incident,” Australian National University counterterror expert Professor Clive Williams told Australia’s News.
“And of course cheap holidays are used to lure tourists to higher risk destinations like Bali.”
Williams pointed to returning militants who have fought alongside Islamic State in Syria as a potential threat to Indonesia, particularly tourism destinations.
“Those who are opposed to the US and its fellow travellers, like Australia, number in the thousands,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, Professor Ross Taylor from the Indonesia Institute says Bali has become “infinitely safer” since the attacks in the early-00s.
“Since (the Indonesian government) did away with the visa arrival fee, arrivals from Australia are up 16.5 per cent and on anecdotal evidence from travel agents it looks like this whole fiasco with Schapelle Corby has sparked even more inquiries from people about going to Bali.”
Travel from the United Kingdom and United States’ governments also notes the terror risk remains high and reminds nationals to be alert.