Indonesia executions: Australian tourism boycott 'unlikely'

A tourist drinks a bottle of beer during sunset at Seminyak beach, near Kuta, on the resort island of Bali, March 3, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The resort island of Bali is a hugely popular with Australians

Travel operators in Australia say they do not expect a drop in the number of travellers to Indonesia, despite calls for a boycott after the execution of two Australians there.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were among eight people executed by firing squad in the early hours of Wednesday.

Australia withdrew its ambassador in response and there have been calls on social media to boycott Indonesia.

Several companies said travellers showed few signs of being deterred.

"At the moment it doesn't look like there's been any impact so far on the demand," said the Qantas Airways chief executive Alan Joyce, according to the Australian.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chan (left) and Sukumaran were executed despite international pressure
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Their deaths have prompted calls to boycott Indonesia

Despite anger at the Indonesian government "a lot of customers recognise that boycotting Bali is only going to damage the local population'', he added.

A spokesman for the Flight Centre travel group told the BBC the island of Bali had long been among the top three most popular destinations for Australian travellers.

"We have not had customers changing their holiday plans and we wouldn't have expected to, as they would have been aware of this case when those bookings were made," said Haydn Long.

"Overall, I think Bali will continue to be a really popular choice for Australian travellers, but it is certainly possible that some people may consider other alternatives in the current climate."

Online travel agency Webjet said demand from Australians for flights to Bali had in fact risen by 42% over the past four weeks compared with the same period a year earlier.

The chief executive, John Guscic, said there was often little link between overseas events and travelling habits.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many Australians thought the men had shown remorse and should be spared
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Media captionTony Abbott: "Australia deeply, deeply regrets these executions in Indonesia"

"Whenever there has been a political event historically, if there is a period of suppressed bookings, it picks up very quickly and reverts to the underlying performance of the market," the Sydney Morning Herald reported him saying.

Some Australians have vowed on social media never to visit Indonesia again using the #BoycottBali or #BoycottIndonesia hashtags.

Others, however, say such views are hypocritical, given several other popular travel destinations use the death sentence, and a boycott would only harm local people who depended on tourism for an income.

Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, condemned Chan and Sukumaran's execution as "cruel and unnecessary".

But despite the unprecedented step of recalling his ambassador, he said the relationship between Australia and Indonesia "is important, remains important, will always be important, will become more important as time goes by".

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