BALI : THE SAFEST PLACE FOR AUSSIES TO HOLIDAY A documentary aired on network television in Australia on Sunday night (21/07/2013) titled, "The Dark Side of Bali". This program was promoted days earlier with the tag “one Australian dies every nine days in Bali”, and used to hype up the prime time viewing slot. But unfortunately it goes much further than promoting domestic TV audience numbers. Type the phrase into Google and see the damage it causes to Bali’s reputation globally with news services around the world picking up the headline. But what does this “statistic” actually mean, was it used out of context and is Bali really such a dark and dangerous place to visit (or live) ? Look, the facts are very simple, the Dept Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm that in 2012 a total of 904 Australians died whilst abroad. But it’s when you compare the number of Australians visiting Bali against other popular destinations around the globe, and compare those figures to the number of deaths in other countries that you see these so called “statistics” in a far better perspective. Now let’s first start by remembering that Indonesia ranks just behind New Zealand as the most popular overseas destination for Australians. In 2012 more than 797,000 Australians visited Bali and during that period there were 39 reported deaths on the island, so the news report was technically correct that one Australia dies in Bali every 9 days (9.35 days to be precise). But more importantly statistically, that works out to be one in every 20,435 Australian visitors to Bali who died on the island. Now I’m sure everyone would agree that just one death is a tragedy but when clinically looking at “statistics” a 1 in 20,000+ chance of dying while holidaying in Bali pales into insignificance when compared to other Top 10 Aussie Holiday Destinations. Indeed when looking at tourist numbers statistically (and on a per capita basis per number of visitors) Bali comes out number one as the “Safest Place To Visit” by Australians. For example, in shear numbers of reported deaths Bali is one of the safest top 10 destinations for Aussies (at #8 on the list). Thailand is by far the worst at #1 with 111 Aussie deaths in 2012. Yep its true one Australian dies in Thailand every three days on average, now that’s almost 3 times the Aussie/Bali death rate, but I don’t see Aussie reporters and film crew in Bangkok drumming up a similar story, or on the streets of Manilla in the Philippines where 68 Aussies last year met their fate. Indeed, on a per capita basis Greece has the worst statistic as a place for Australians to visit with some 60 deaths recorded against the 98,000 Australians who visited the country last year, a statistical chance of around 1 in 1600 of meeting your maker in Greece. Now that “statistic” would surely make a headline….no not in Australia it doesn’t! One of the major causes of deaths in Bali is traffic accidents, particularly motorbike accidents, with speed, lack of driver experience (most tourists don’t ride motorcycles at home and are unlicenced), no helmet and alcohol are the main contributing factors. You also have people dying from drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning and yes occasionally the odd death by violence (usually drunken tourists fighting one another). Bali also has quite a large expat population, so included in that number are deaths of retirees and ex-pats, so included are people dying from natural causes, heart attack, strokes etc….but our intrepid reporter didn’t tell you that on Sunday night, did he? Sure, Bali can be a dangerous place, especially if you ride around on a motorbike with no helmet, no licence, get drunk in nightclubs and end up in brawls, but lets not forget that Indonesia is still a developing country and is lacking a lot of basic infrastructure and its usually when people (particularly younger people) travel overseas they let their guard down and perhaps take more risks and do things that they would not normally do at home, and that’s what causes accidents. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recorded 904 Australians who died overseas in 2012, a 13 per cent jump from the year before. But DFAT officials are saying that the increase reflected a boost in the overall number of people travelling abroad and that there have not been any unusual trends in the figures for deaths of Australians overseas in 2012. Illness accounted for 25 per cent of deaths followed by natural deaths (22 per cent), accidental (7 per cent) and suicide (0.6 per cent). Overall, the highest number of deaths were recorded in Thailand, the Philippines, Greece, Vietnam and the United States. One of the highest-profile cases reported was that of former Port Adelaide player John McCarthy, who died during a trip to Las Vegas, his death being classified as an accident.


Much of the negative stuff that gets reported about Bali is usually focussed around the drunken “Aussie Bogan” tourists in a small strip called Kuta. Its in this area of Kuta where the nightclubs are located and where much of the “bad side” of Bali is seen. But again its not indicative of Bali’s culture its what the tourists bring in with them. Yes, true there is an element of danger and chaos in Bali, but certainly no better or no worse than many other places in the world. I personally think that Bali is a safe place to visit and I still feel comfortable in taking my family there for a holiday. Do you think Bali is a safe place to travel? Do you think the Australian media exaggerate the situation in Bali? Have your say below :

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