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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Another blow to fragile Bali tourism
By Tim Johnston
BBC News, Bali

Security personnel in Kuta
There is now a heavy security presence in Bali
Two days after suicide bombers struck Indonesia's Bali, its people are still reeling from the blow.

Few can believe that the "Island of the Gods" has been attacked again.

Three years ago this month Bali suffered a similar attack, which killed more than 200 people.

Many believe the recovery this time around will take much longer and be much harder.

"I feel I am dead, I have no chance anymore in Bali looking for a job," said Agus, a 35-year-old tour guide originally from neighbouring East Java.

"I'm sure in the next few years, I must go back to Java to look for a job, because I can't stay here: I can't survive."

Tourists are divided in their response. A number have already left, some on evacuation flights laid on by Australia and Singapore.

But officials say that images beamed around the world of long queues at the airport on Sunday morning were misleading, because many of those leaving had reached the end of their holidays anyway.

Perhaps surprisingly, other visitors have stayed. Anneke Gommers from the Netherlands said that while she was a little worried by the bombs, she would not be leaving.

Staying on

"The Balinese people cannot help it. It's terrible for them and if everyone goes, they will have nothing. They are so friendly and kindly," she said, adding that she was still intending to come back next year for another extended stay.

A woman walks back from the ocean after throwing flowers in the water at the site of two bomb explosions on Jimbaran Beach, Bali, Indonesia Monday Oct. 3, 2005.
Some tourists have decided to stay on, despite the attacks

Ms Gommers was speaking outside a Starbucks cafe, near the site of the Kuta Square bombing.

She said she had been reassured by the increased security since the bomb attack.

"I was in the shopping centre, and when I arrived the police searched my bag, and it was the same for everyone. I think it's safe," she said.

Inside the cafe, the effects of the bomb were also being keenly felt.

"Business is very, very bad," said Wayan, the manager.

In the immediate aftermath of the October 2002 bombing, hotel bookings fell by 80%, flights arrived and left empty, and shop owners put their staff on half pay.

It has taken three years of hard work to convince tourists to come back to the island - hard work that was undone in an instant on Saturday night.

The struggle out of the trough following the first bombing sapped a lot of the island's economic resilience, and it remains to be seen how much stamina is left to cope with the aftermath of these new attacks.

Two days after the bombs, the hotels are still relatively full, but people are cancelling their holidays and the next few months are critical.

Many people in Bali fear that tourists who were willing to discount the first attack as a one-off anomaly will see two bombings as a pattern - and that the island's tourism industry will wither before they return.





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