Ni Komang Erviani , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar | Sat, 10/11/2008 11:29 AM | Bali
British Ambassador Martin Hatfull said Friday that the security system in Bali had improved since the 2002 bombings in which 202 people, mainly foreign nationals, were killed.
“I think the security system in Bali is improving,” Hatfull said after meeting Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika at his office in Denpasar.
Hatfull praised the Balinese people and the island administration for having undertak-en serious efforts to establish a better security system. Increased security is one reason the British government has advised its nationals against visiting the island.
“We do not make any recommendations for British people not to come here. We say people can come to Bali, but you need to be careful,” Hatfull said.
He said Bali, and Indonesia in general, was still being targeted by terrorist groups.
“My government, in our website, acknowledges that these areas still attract terrorism. But we also acknowledge that the Balinese and Indonesian authorities are working very hard to combat terrorism,” the ambassador said.
Hatfull said that he and Pastika had discussed specific cooperation measures to be undertaken by the Balinese and British authorities.
“We are ready to help the Balinese authority improve the security of public areas. I think all of us, my government included, can always do more and it is important that we keep improving security,” he said.
With the increased security recognised by the British government, Hatfulll said he hoped British tourism to the area would increase.
“We have many British tourists coming to Bali every year. It is a very important destination for many British tourists,” he said.
Hatfull remains optimistic that despite the ongoing global financial crisis tourism to the area would remain strong.
“I am sure that Bali will remain very popular with British tourists,” he said.
During their meeting Hatfull and Pastika discussed a wide range of issues including the environment and economy. Hatfull also congratulated Pastika on his victory in July’s gubernatorial election. Mangku Pastika said there were many opportunities for cooperation, particularly in the security sector, that his administration would pursue with the British government.
“We need to learn from the British because it certainly has better and stronger resources. Its authority and community also have a higher level of awareness about security issues,” Pastika said.
Head of the Bali Tourism Agency, I Gde Nurjaya, said the number of British tourists coming to Bali had steadily increased over recent years.
British tourists comprise 4 percent of Bali’s foreign tourists each year.