JAKARTA, Indonesia – Not all Australian tourists are bad apples.
This was what Australian ambassador Paul Grigson emphasized on Monday, February 1, saying the stereotype of the drunken, badly behaved Australian at Bali is not deserved.
“You get 1.1 million Australian tourists going to Bali, do 1% get into trouble? Half a per cent? No. The number of cases dealt with by the consulate in Bali last year was in the low hundreds,” he told Rappler on Monday, February 1.
Bali is the deadliest tourist location for Australians, with one Australian dying every 8 days in 2013 on Bali, according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
There have also been high-profile arrests of Australians in Bali, with the Bali Nine, accused of drug smuggling, being the most famous in 2005.
But Grigson said “we shouldn’t be labeling the overwhelming majority who come to enjoy their holiday,” adding the reputation of “[Australians] shouldn’t be tarnished because of a few misbehavers.”
Australians is the top source of visitors to Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Grigson also expressed support for visa-free access for Australians to allow them easier access to the country.
Grigson said he wanted to help people not just to get to popular holiday places like Bali, but also other less popular Indonesian destinations.
“I think for far too long we’ve understated the importance of Australian tourism to Indonesia,” he said.
He also said Australians spend more time and money in Indonesia than other tourists.
“There’s a myth Australians come to Bali, they stay 5 nights and 6 days, stay cheap and then go home,” he said.
“But actually, they stay longer than any other tourists, per day. Australians stay an average of 9 and a half days in Bali… they come for a long time, spend more than anyone else, and most importantly they come back.”
“Australians are interested tourists.”
Opening up to Indonesians
Asked whether Australia would be willing to give visa-free access to Indonesians in return, Grigson said the laws as they stand are friendly to Indonesians.
Under new laws announced in November, Indonesians have the option to secure a 3-year, multiple entry VISA to Australia. Each visit can last up to 3 months.
Grigson said arrangements like this were “very rare”, and showed the government wanted to get Indonesians travelling to Australia.
“There aren’t many countries in the world that have this sort of deal from us.”
He also said visas are not the top barrier to tourism.
“Visas are not the main hindrance. It’s a lack of knowledge on tourism products,” he said. “Australia needs to sell our cultural edge more than others.” – Rappler.com
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