Indonesia Tourists Threaten Boycotts After Traffickers Executed

Little Impact Reported By Tour Operators

Travel operators in Australia say they do not expect a drop in the number of travelers to Indonesia, despite calls for a boycott after the execution of two Australians along with six others this week.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were among eight people executed by firing squad early Wednesday morning. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it “cannot be business as usual” with Indonesia, after the latest executions for drug trafficking.

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Australia withdrew its ambassador in response and there have been calls on social media to boycott Indonesia. Several companies said travelers showed few signs of being deterred.

“At the moment it doesn’t look like there’s been any impact so far on the demand,” said the Qantas Airways chief executive Alan Joyce. “Despite anger at the Indonesian government a lot of customers recognize that boycotting Bali is only going to damage the local population,” he added.

A spokesman for the Flight Centre travel group told the BBC the island of Bali had long been among the top three most popular destinations for Australian travelers.

“We have not had customers changing their holiday plans and we wouldn’t have expected to, as they would have been aware of this case when those bookings were made,” said Haydn Long. “Overall, I think Bali will continue to be a really popular choice for Australian travelers, but it is certainly possible that some people may consider other alternatives in the current climate.”

Online travel agency Webjet said demand from Australians for flights to Bali had in fact risen by 42 percent over the past four weeks compared with the same period a year earlier.

The chief executive, John Guscic, said there was often little link between overseas events and traveling habits.

“Whenever there has been a political event historically, if there is a period of suppressed bookings, it picks up very quickly and reverts to the underlying performance of the market,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported him saying.

Bali 9 executions

Some Australians have vowed on social media never to visit Indonesia again using the #BoycottBali or #BoycottIndonesia hashtags. Others, however, say such views are hypocritical, given several other popular travel destinations use the death sentence, and a boycott would only harm local people who depend on tourism.

Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, condemned the eight executions as “cruel and unnecessary.” Filipina Mary Jane Veloso’s execution was postponed at the last minute.

But despite the unprecedented step of recalling his ambassador, he said the relationship between Australia and Indonesia “is important, remains important, will always be important, will become more important as time goes by.”

Indonesia says it takes a hard line because of the country’s own drugs problem – 33 Indonesians die every day as a result of drugs, according to Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency. The country has some of the toughest drug laws in the world and ended a four-year moratorium on executions in 2013.

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Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

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