Locals Say Bali Unaffected By Cartoon Controversy

The Danish Foreign Ministry’s travel guidance for Indonesia advises all Danes to leave Indonesia no matter where they are in a vast country spanning a distance almost from Wales and across Europe to the Ural mountains.
At the offices of the Danish travel agency Jysk Rejsebureau’s in Bangkok, they are giving the same advice to their clients.
“We stick to the travel advice from the foreign ministry. As a travel agency, I do not believe that we can go against what the foreign ministry advises, because we do not have the information to do otherwise,” travel consultant Christian Hempel says.
On a personal level he is, however, a bit confused as to why the foreign ministry says “Don’t go there!”.
“According to the information I have received from Indonesia, it seems strange that they advise against traveling there when the demonstrations have only been rather small and reasonably under control. The people I have contacted speak of calm there, so from my point of view it seems that the ministry may have been a little rushed in giving such advice,” he says.


“Bali is safe”
Hempel isn’t the only person wondering what the foreign ministry was thinking. On the popular holiday island of Bali, there have been no disturbances and local sources say that the only ‘demonstration’ occurred in the form of a letter handed in at the Royal Danish Consulate.
But the Danish government warning not to go to Indonesia, includes Bali.
At the Royal Danish Consulate on the island they have received calls from several Danes who are having a hard time figuring out why exactly they should leave the island.
Vice-Consul and Consular Secretary Wayan Merti says he understands the confusion the instruction has caused.
“If you follow the instructions from the Danish foreign ministry, then you should leave the island. But I think if you are careful, there wouldn’t be problems in staying. There are not many muslims on Bali and the greater part of the population here are Hindus,” she explains.
The Vice-Consul added that thus far she has not heard of any Danes leaving the island expressly because of the warning.
Dane Nikolaj Jensen who runs his own travel agency Nicktours on Bali, mirrors the opinion of Jysk Rejsebureau in Bangkok, telling his Danish customers what the foreign ministry has advised. So far none have gone home and only a few have left for other destinations since the warning was issued.
Business-wise he is just a little concerned that he might be affected by the warning.
“Of course I will feel it – at least indirectly anyway – but I also have other customers from Germany and England and so on. But the general attitude among Danes on Bali towards the situation is that the media is making it worse than it really is. If you keep a low profile, you easily blend in with the other tourists from around the world.”
In Denmark travel agencies are cancelling their trips to Indonesia, but this move has not yet affected Jensen’s business.
“So far I haven’t had any cancellations, and I have Danish guests arriving during the next few days.”
Actually only one thing has changed for the Dane since the controversy erupted.
“I usually always have a Danish flag in front of my agency, but right now I have removed it. No reason to ask for trouble if you can avoid it,” he says.


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