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Asia Dive News : New bombings, major blow to Bali tourism

JAKARTA - With tourism industry in Bali, a resort island in Indonesia, still not fully recovered from the October 12, 2002 bombs, the Saturday attacks have made business people increasingly gloomy about the island's future.

    The own er of several travel agencies and resorts, Agung Prana, feared the Saturday night bombings would badly affect tourism and related activities.

    "I feel very pessimistic about the future of Bali after this incident," Agung was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post on Monday.

    While the latest blasts and the death toll were not as big as those three years ago, the impact of a second attack would mean Indonesia would lose the trust of holidaymakers, he said.

    State Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik had frequently insisted the country was safe and Bali was still as beautiful as before. "But the blasts in two locations reflected our inability to ensure security for visitors and this will work to ruin the image of Bali as one of world's top destinations. Trust is crucialin tourism and the hospitality industry," Prana said.

    After the 2002 attacks killed 202 people, a series of bomb attacks in Indonesia and a string of negative foreign travel advisories helped kept tourists away, and it was not until early 2004 that Bali was again pulsing with visitors.

    Before October 2002, the number of tourist arrivals at Ngurah Rai International Airport reached 5,000 people a day, around two million a year. The 2002 bombings brought down the number to less than 1,000 a day for many months but the rate has slowly increasedto around 4,000 a day before the latest blasts. Hotel occupancy rates most recently soared to between 90 and 100 percent from Julyuntil September 2005.

    After the weekend's blasts guests were being advised to stay inside their hotels for the short-term.

    Shortly after the 2002 bombings, distraught tourists abandoned the island en masse, leaving the majority of hotels, resorts almost completely vacant and thousands of workers without job.

    Around 1.3 million out of Bali's 3.5 million people work in tourism-related industries, many of those are scuba diving related.

Source: Xinhuanet