Fri, 09 Apr 2010

From: The Jakarta Post

By Luh De Suriyani, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar
Balinese tourism-related businesses must improve the courtesy shown to domestic visitors and put it on a par with that afforded to overseas visitors, if the island is to remain a top leisure destination, a study says.

Udayana University's Culture and Tourism Research centre says 53 percent of Indonesia's total population of 230 million people travel during school and religious vacations.

An estimated 150 million Indonesians spent their leisure time and money in several domestic destinations, including Bali, Java and Sumatra, between 2005 and 2009, the study shows.

Conducted jointly by the Jimbaran-based university and the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the study shows 2.9 million domestic visitors came to the resort island in 2008, or a million more than the 1.98 million overseas tourists during the same period.

Research centre head Agung Suryawan Wiranatha said domestic tourists made a significant financial contribution toward Bali's all-important tourism industry.

"The Bali administration and the people engaged in the tourism industry must pay more attention to this great potential," Wiranatha said.

"The focus here has long been on foreign visitors, including in promotional activities and services."

Domestic visitors have complained about discriminative services at hotels, restaurants, galleries and entertainment centers.

One such tourist, Lola Hamid, said she had been turned away from a restaurant here because the waiter had told her the food was "too expensive for an Indonesia".

"I was incensed," she said.

"They were so impolite. They thought because we're Indonesian we don't have the kind of money to eat at such a restaurant."

Brigitta, another disgruntled visitor, shared a similar experience.

"So I'm in a boutique-slash-gallery in Kuta when the owner suddenly asks me to leave, and at the same time he's welcoming in a foreign woman," she said.

"It was so humiliating."

Some bars and nightclubs in Bali bar entry to Indonesians.

Udayana's Wiranatha pointed out it was domestic tourists who propped up the island's tourism sector after the deadly 2002 and 2005 terrorist bombings scared off overseas visitors.

"We urge the provincial administration and tourism industry players in Bali to improve their services and promotion to this demographic," Wiranatha said.