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Boycott Bali / Lombok?

Increasingly for one reason, or indeed cause, or another people are advocating a total boycott of Bali. Some for the terrorism risk (made worse by ineffective corrupt police officers), some for a perceived or even actual anti-western sentiment, some for health scare issues, some over court cases such as Schapelle Corby and Michelle Leslie, others that a boycott is the only way to rid Indonesia and therefore Bali of its terrible judicial (police and justice system) corruption which negatively impacts both residents of and visitors to Bali alike.

BLTF's owner Mark Austin has been falsely accused of being a boycott Bali advocate. Time and time again Mark / BLTF has stated;

1) There absolutely is massive police and judicial corruption in Bali and something needs to be done about it, as it affects both safety for everyone and prosperity for the Balinese, plus it is the cause of substantial civil and human rights abuse including state sponsored or tollerated murder.

2) The problem extends past the corrupt police and court system. It is fed by a large number of unethical businesses (which means hotels, etc. in Bali) and business people; Indonesia has perhaps the nastiest business community in the world.

3) Since the root of the problem, the Suharto regime, successive Indonesian Governments have actually allowed or even been responsible for a dramatic increase, not a decrease in corruption. These governments who so often pay lip service to the problem and take ineffective "actions" in attempts at domestic and International PR damage limitation, are often highly complicit in acts of corruption themselves.

4) A mass boycott of Bali would probably force the government into doing something constructive at long last, as tourism is Indonesia's third largest industry and Bali accounts for the lion's share of that business. The problems is that such a boycott would very much hurt in the short to medium term the very people the advocates are allegedly saying a boycott would ultimately help. Secondly, a boycott may also damage an already frail economy enough to create civil unrest, with all the misery that entails, plus potentially places this fledgling democracy at risk of an extremist Islamic revolution. So when you talk of boycotting Bali, be aware of the possible consequences and the many, many lives you may end up being guilty of helping to destroy.

BLTF believes it is best, in every way, shape and form to continue to go to Bali but to make sure you only support the honest pro-Balinese businesses and help stop corruption by reporting any and all exposure to it. If you name, shame and report the people / police officers involved in any corruption attempts or acts you witness or fall victim to. If you make 100% sure you do not use the hotels, villas, tour services, etc. of the people who condone, support or actually commit corruption. If you can make the commitment to true responsible tourism, you absolutely should go to Bali; by caring and taking care, BLTF guarantees you will have a holiday like no other. But if you can not make such a commitment then yes, please stay away from Bali, as you will probably just be adding to the problem and putting your own safety and values at risk.

How do you make sure you are helping only the people that deserve it, thus fighting corruption and fraud and also helping to keep yourself and other travelers safe? Simple, read the advice on BLTF's various information pages and use the Bali & Lombok Travel Forum itself when you have any questions!

For some words about what the poor indigenous people of Bali have to endure at the hands of unscrupulous business people and an inherently corrupt society, please read: Balinese People.