Bali Nine executions: Why we shouldn't boycott Bali

I'm going to Bali at the weekend, and I oppose capital punishment. But I won't be cancelling my trip. And I won't be boycotting the island. Just like most calls to boycott a destination, the issues surrounding the call to eschew Bali as a holiday destination are as complex as they are misguided, ignorant and hypocritical.

It wasn't long ago, I recall, that a survey found that as many of half the Australian population weren't even aware that Bali was part of Indonesia, believing it to be a sovereign state. Now we are all experts. And we only have Bali alone as a means of conveying our anger to the Indonesians over the looming execution of two Australians since so few of us can be bothered to visit the rest of the country on our doorstep.

After the two Bali bombings, Australians, overcome with emotion over the terrorist attacks, expressed their love and devotion to a place that now attracts a million of us as visitors each year. Where are those caring, Bali-adoring Australians now? When Australians and others stayed away from Bali on those occasions the Balinese suffered enormous economic hardship, and will suffer again should we repeat the exercise, this time in the form of a boycott rather than out of fear and caution.

The intransigence of the Indonesian Government and its president is driven from the capital, Jakarta, with many Balinese, as a colleague who has just returned from the island confirms, expressing their own opposition and misgivings over the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

And our own Federal Government seems to be cynically seeking to incite a boycott of Bali by ordinary, well-meaning Australians because it's too weak and too timid to impose, at least thus far, its own raft of censures, of which it has myriad options available to it. It would prefer its own citizens do the dirty work, lest it offend the Indonesians and threaten our most important relationship.

Anyone who has been to Bali knows what a disgrace a good many Australians are who visit there. Nowhere does the description "bogan" resonate more sharply and more shamefully than on the island of Bali. Some foreigners in effect already boycott Bali, deterred by its reputation for being overrun by our uncouth compatriots.

We get drunk, we take and, yes, run drugs, cause immense offence by parading ourselves half-naked and hide out at resorts, not bothering to experience what is one of the most distinctive cultures on the planet. Before we boycott Bali we should clean up our own tawdry act. The Indonesian Government may richly deserve to suffer the full force of Australian public outrage but the Balinese do not.

Anthony Dennis is Traveller's National Editor.