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BerichtOnderwerp: Extortion videos hurt Bali’s image   Extortion videos hurt Bali’s image Icon_minitimewo 10 apr 2013 - 13:02

Extortion videos hurt Bali’s image

Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Headlines | Wed, April 10 2013, 9:44 AM

Paper Edition | Page: 1

Tourism stakeholders urged Bali’s authorities to take action to revive the island’s image that has been tainted by corrupt practices shown in videos currently circulating on the Internet.

Ngurah Wijaya, chairman of the Indonesian Tourism Industry Association (GIPI) Bali, said the videos had further ruined the image of the island as a tourist destination, while it had already been struggling with problems such as traffic, the environment and infrastructure.

“The videos portray the corrupt bureaucracy. The world might underestimate Indonesian people, seeing them as people who are easily involved in extortion and consider it a common practice,” he said regretfully.

“The government should take action to rebuild people’s trust, and all state institutions should make efforts to eradicate corrupt practices.”

Dutch journalist Kees Van Der Spek has shown Bali in an unforgiving light with the videos he recorded being aired on YouTube. The first video surfaced recently but was apparently recorded around five month ago and shows a policeman at a Petitenget intersection asking for money from the tourist following a traffic violation.

Following the first video, which had already gone viral, the second video — also recorded by Van Der Spek, documents a corrupt moneychanger, with one of the shots showing the moneychanger’s staff stealing banknotes.

The third video, recorded by the same person using a hidden camera, at Ngurah Rai airport shows a uniformed officer receiving money in a handshake with the Dutch tourist as a bribe to speed up the inspection process.

I Gusti Ngurah Rai Suryawijaya, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurants Association (PHRI) Bali, shared similar disappointment that extortion and bribery were a common practice.

Ngurah and Suryawijaya predicted that the video incidents would not affect tourist arrival rates, but authorities in the tourists’ home countries could issue a warning related to the issue.

“However, if the government doesn’t improve its institutions and reform the bureaucracy to eradicate corruption, it is not impossible that tourists will turn away from Bali and start looking for other destinations in Asia,” he declared.

Last year, the island saw 2.8 million foreign tourist arrivals. This year, it is targeting 3.1 million foreign tourist arrivals.

In the wake of the video incidents, the island’s tourism stakeholders also suggested the establishment of a complaint center to accept complaints and suggestions from tourists encountering inconveniences.

Suryawijaya said a complaint center, jointly operated by the government, tourism associations and the public, could help ensure protection and convenience for tourists as a major source of income for Bali.

“The center is needed to ensure safety and security in Bali. It could be in the form of a call center, like 911, with English-speaking operators who would quickly respond to the complaints,” he said, adding the center should then handle complaints immediately or forward them to the authorities.

At present, Bali and other areas in Indonesia did not yet operate such complaint centers for tourists, he said, adding that foreign tourists encountering any problems or unpleasant treatment from local authorities usually filed reports to tourism authorities in their country of origin.
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