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Indonesia complains over travel warnings JAKARTA - Indonesia has complained to Australia that its travel warning system is harming its economy, deterring new investment and forcing language students to other countries. Australia promised Indonesia it would review its advisory system but Jakarta could be left sorely disappointed by the outcome, with the Government saying its citizens will always be its top priority.

Jakarta has long been critical of the travel advisory system run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which warns Australians to think twice about travelling to Indonesia. Indonesia blames it for a significant drop in tourism in the wake of bombings in Bali in 2002 and 2005. It has also been unhappy that Australia has not been so harsh in its warnings for the United States and Britain, which have suffered similar terrorist attacks.

Indonesia is hoping that a review Australia agreed to during a ministerial forum in Bali may help address the issue. Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu again raised the matter during meetings in Canberra today. "The Australian side has promised to review it. We hope that the review process will continue," she said. However, DFAT indicated that the safety of Australians would always be its top priority.

"All travel advisories are kept under constant review," a DFAT spokesman said. "Our primary concern is to ensure the safety and security of Australians." While economic relations between Australia and Indonesia were seen as a cornerstone of the bilateral relationship, Dr Pangestu indicated the travel advisories could be economically damaging to Indonesia. "The travel warnings affect tourism, ... business travel and most importantly education exchange," Dr Pangestu said.

"There needs to be a greater understanding of each others situation, our differences and an understanding of each other's internal processes." Indonesian businesses have told the government that the warning system is deterring new investment. "On education exchange, it means students who are studying Indonesian, teachers who are teaching Indonesian, (are having problems) with insurance coverage," Dr Pangestu said. "We know that some of them are going to Malaysia."



Posted in Tourism @ 10 August 2006 13:15 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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