- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The Bali bombings Saturday, which killed 190 persons, are causing aftershocks throughout the struggling travel industry, leading travelers and tour operators to temporarily cancel trips there and forcing travel agents to find suitable alternatives in a pinch.
With the State Department urging Americans to leave the popular Indonesian island, industry officials said the violence would likely strengthen travelers' desire to stay closer to home, a sentiment that gained force after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"Most people who are making travel plans on an elective basis" that is, anyone except business travelers "will probably decide not to go to Bali right now," said David Buda, executive vice president at Tzell Travel Group in New York. Instead, Mr. Buda expects more American travelers to exhibit "the stay-at-home syndrome," or visit Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Hard-core surfers, who travel to Indonesia during hurricane season in search of massive waves, can still be counted on to venture to Bali, said John Dekker, manager of Carlson Wagonlit in Huntington Beach, Calif.
"These are people who look off the edge of the cliff anyway, so they're not going to let something like this stop them," Mr. Dekker said. He has five clients on a surfing trip in Bali, and said they do not plan to cut their travel short.
But for the most part, travel agents around the globe were canceling upcoming trips to the Indonesian resort.
Club Med suspended travel to its Bali "village" for a week. The Coral Gables, Fla.-based company is offering to send customers to a different resort through Oct. 20, or will allow them to rebook their trip for sometime in the future.
For the 600 Club Med vacationers already in Bali, "all the excursions have been canceled," a spokeswoman said.
All British tour operators, meanwhile, have canceled tours to Bali over the next few days and are offering penalty-free cancellations and alternative tours to affected clients. Britain's Foreign Office is warning Britons not to go to Bali at all and to avoid Indonesia except on essential business.
Thom Nulty, the chief executive of Navigant International, a corporate travel agency, said he did not expect any significant decline in business trips to Indonesia. "Because of the economy, business travel has already been cut down to essential travel," Mr. Nulty said.
The Association of British Travel Agents said leisure tourists are generally undeterred in the long run by the threat of terrorism. Despite a 1997 attack in Luxor, Egypt, the threat posed by the PKK in Turkey and the Basque separatist group ETA in Spain, tourists still travel to those countries in large numbers, said Keith Betton, the association's head of corporate affairs.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation and has developed a reputation as a dangerous place for travelers in recent years because of the rise of radical Islam there.
Bali, however, is mostly Hindu and had always been considered relatively safe. That peaceful image has certainly been tarnished, although travel agents hope it won't ruin the island's all-important tourism industry.

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