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A few yards behind her, a uniformed guard silently scanned the
stretch of golden sand. Above him, a tiny security camera took in
the scene from its discreet perch on a tree branch. And inside
Kerley’s hotel, the Sheraton Laguna, security personnel monitored
beach activity via closed-circuit TV.
All of the attention had to do with Kerley’s personal safety.
Across this tropical island, hotels, restaurants and government
authorities have upped security in an effort to lure back
vacationers scared by last October’s nightclub bombing that killed
more than 200 people.
Guards at the Four Seasons Resorts at Jimbaran and Sayan now
sweep mirrors along the undercarriages of vehicles, searching for
car bombs; their counterparts at the Grand Bali Beach at Sanur wave
metal detectors over luggage.
Some hotels have installed boom gates over entrances, and guards
hold the identification papers of local drivers entering the
properties. The Four Seasons and nearby Ritz-Carlton, among other
hotels, have doubled their security staffs.
“We have 40 security officers on staff working in three shifts,
so there are always more than 10 patrolling the premises,” said
Putu Indrawati, Four Seasons’ public relations director in
Even the trendy Casa Luna restaurant in Ubud, where the biggest
danger to tourists seems to be the calorie-laden desserts, posts a
guard at the entrance.
The number of police on the island has doubled and officers are
taking advantage of new legal authority to detain and question
suspected terrorists, said Krishna Hannan, an Indonesian vice
consul in San Francisco.
Security forces at key ports conduct routine screenings of ferry
passengers, and travelers using Ngurah Rai Airport must produce an
airline ticket and pass a security screening to get inside the
The security comes as trials have started in Denpasar for
several of those charged in last October’s bombing. Police have
blamed the attack on outside Muslim extremists linked to Al Qaeda,
and dozens of arrests have been made. Still, the U.S. State
Department continues to advise against nonessential travel to
Indonesia, warning of continued unrest in some regions.
During the first five months of this year, about 11,250
Americans vacationed in Bali, only half as many as during the same
period last year, according to government statistics.
For those travelers who do head to Bali, the bombing is hard to
reconcile with the mellow atmosphere of the current tourist scene
on the island.
Seth Silverstein, a Los Angeles management consultant
sightseeing recently in Ubud with his girlfriend, Lisa Hochberg,
said the probability of another bombing “is just infinitesimally
For many, the travel bargains have been a big lure. With
occupancy rates dipping to 20 percent, many hotels have been
lowering prices, waiving tax and service charges, or offering free
excursions and breakfasts.
Christy Wills and her mother, Beverly, both of Whidbey Island,
Wash., said they paid $540 round-trip airfare from Seattle.
Jim Cramer, owner of Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Islands Express
travel agency, has booked Bali trips since 1984.
Cramer said he advises clients traveling to Indonesia to stay
alert and avoid franchises like McDonald’s.
“Other than that, I tell them everything is cool,” he said.