The hotel bombing in Jakarta last week was expected to reawaken
fears about traveling to Indonesia. Still, increasing reports of
potential threats of terrorism in the United States had not
significantly affected travel as of Aug. 6.
Press reports last week varied, but some sources said up to 17
people were killed and about 150 injured after a car bomb ripped
through the J.W. Marriott in Jakarta last Tuesday. The attack was
thought to be aimed at U.S. interests and coincided with the final
days of the trials of men accused in the Bali bombing last October,
which killed 202 people.
As a result of the bombing last week, tour operator Intrepid
Travel canceled all trips to Indonesia through the end of the
Other tour operators, such as SITA World Travel and Asian
Pacific Adventures, said there were no cancellations as of last
week. “We’ll be monitoring the situation,” said Peter Sohi, SITA’s
supervisor of India and the Orient.
The bombing occurred after a week of warnings by U.S. officials
about the potential for a terrorist attack on U.S. soil before the
end of the summer, though as of Aug. 6 the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security’s threat level remained at Code Yellow
(elevated), a medium-level threat status.
But because there was no official change in the threat level
last week, unlike earlier in the summer, travel agents and tour
operators said their clients have not expressed concern.
Even when the threat level was raised to orange, her clients
kept traveling, said Marti Anderson, owner of Anderson Travel
Service Inc. in Seattle. “It wasn’t preventing people from
traveling, but they’d say, ‘Oh, it’s going to take longer at the
Raising the threat level to orange would likely impact travel
more than the current advisories, said Charlie McIlvain, chairman
of the National Tour Association’s board of directors.
NTA legislative counsel Jim Santini questioned the logic of
“gratuitous announcements” that terrorists might hide bombs in
small electrical equipment, for example.
“What does that accomplish?” said Santini. “It alerts terrorists
that we’re onto you, and makes travelers more reluctant to
Both the NTA and the Travel Industry Association say recent
changes to international visa programs may hinder incoming
Non-immigrant visa applicants must now appear in person for an
interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy to obtain a visa, for
example. The State Department also has moved up the deadline
requiring international travelers from 27 countries to hold a
The new passports will have bar-coded biographical information,
allowing immigration inspectors to “swipe” the passport for
immediate information on the traveler.
Originally, the change in the Visa Waiver Program would have
required machine-readable passports by October 2007, but the
deadline was moved to Oct. 1, 2003, which TIA contends will further
deter legitimate international travel to the United States.
TIA is “not opposed to homeland security,” said spokeswoman
Cathy Keefe, “but these arbitrary deadlines were imposed without
room for planning, technology and necessary resources.” As a result
of the increased advisories last week, two programs allowing
international travelers to pass through the United States without a
visa were suspended. The programs do not affect U.S. citizens or
passengers from countries with visa waivers.