Post-bomb lessons - Tourism Indonesia


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Post-bomb lessons

A striking feature of the recovery effort after the first bomb is that it was devised after the attack took place. This is striking because, in 2002, there was widespread international recognition of the tourism industry as a potential soft target of terrorist attack. But such widespread recognition did not contribute much to the capacity of the tourism bureaucracy to prepare for disaster.

One prominent bureaucrat involved in planning the first national recovery program explained that, prior to the first bomb, the government only had strategies for responding to flood or fire.

By early 2005, the future of Bali’s tourism industry was beginning to look promising again. But then, on 1 October, the second bombs struck. The second attack had a different style of execution than the first, but the motives and targets were similar. In many respects, then, the second bomb was simply a repeat of the first, so a certain level of preparedness would be expected. Not so.

The reasons for this organisational incapacity to learn are complex. Firstly, a head-in-the-sand mentality endures in the Department of Culture and Tourism, as a former high-level bureaucrat intimated when he excused his bureaucracy’s poor preparedness for the second bomb in this way: ‘We have to think positive. To think about a recovery program would imply that we want the same tragedy to strike again.’

In fact, following the second bombings, it was not the Department of Culture and Tourism, but the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) - a private organisation comprising nine top Balinese private tourism agencies - that was made responsible for the recovery effort.


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