Ni Komang Erviani, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar
U.S. Consul General Caryn R. McClelland has praised Indonesia’s commitment to combating terrorism, saying the decision to execute three men for their involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing would reassure tourists about Bali’s security.
“I agree that Indonesia has demonstrated its commitment to maintaining security and has worked very very hard to combat terrorism,” McClelland said after a courtesy visit to Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika at the governor’s office in Denpasar on Wednesday.
McClelland was referring to the recent executions of Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra, three perpetrators behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, most of whom were foreign nationals, including seven Americans.
She said she was optimistic Bali would remain secure after the execution, despite the call for “retaliation” by a small group of the bombers’ supporters during the lead-up to the executions and the days following.
She said the United States had no plans to issue a travel warning after the execution, unlike Australia, which issued a warning not long before the execution took place.
“Of course all Americans have to be careful after the execution,” she said.
“But we have not issued any travel warning specifically for Bali or for Indonesia.”
McClelland, who is the U.S. consul general in Surabaya responsible for 16 provinces including Bali, further praised Bali’s security system, which she said had shown significant improvement.
“It has demonstrated, over the year, that Bali is a safe place to travel to,” she said. “I feel secure and safe at the moment and I hope it will continue that way.”
She was also optimistic the executions would lead to an increase in the number of travelers from the United States to Bali.
“I think the number of American tourists coming to Bali are up and Americans will continue to visit Bali,” she said.
I Gede Nurjaya, head of the Bali Tourism Agency, confirmed that the number of Americans visiting Bali has been on the rise.
“I hope now that the bombers have been executed, more American tourists will come to Bali,” Nurjaya said.
He said the agency remained concerned about the effects of the credit crunch in the United States, saying it would continue to closely monitor the numbers of Americans coming to Bali.
“There are no visible effects yet on the number of American tourists coming to Bali, and we hope that there will actually be no effect from (the credit crunch),” he said.
According to the Bali Tourism Agency, U.S. tourists form the 10th largest national group of tourists to the island.
The top nine countries by number of tourists are, in order, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Germany and France.
From January to September this year, 52,340 Americans visited Bali, a 28.93 percent increase on the same period last year, when there were 40,597 visitors from the United States.