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WA businesses reeling from the effects of Bali terror attacks

The impact of the terror attacks on tourists in Bali has shaken the world and had a big impact on some of WA’s businesses. Mark Pownall and Gary Kleyn report.

WA businesses with links to tourism, construction, health care or hospitality in Bali and the greater Indonesian archipelago are reeling from the effects of Saturday’s terror attack.

Perhaps none are feeling the affects more than Air Paradise International proprietor Kadek Wiranatha.

Not only has the Balinese-born, Mr Wiranatha been forced to put his year-long dream of running an airline to Bali on hold, he has also had to support the families of his staff, who worked in his Paddy’s Cafe that was destroyed by the blast.

Mr Wiranatha has built some-what of an empire in Bali out of the tourist trade. He is understood to own 42 businesses in Bali including the Bounty Group of holiday accommodation.

In a statement issued on behalf of Mr Wiranatha, Air Paradise business manager Gary Hilt said the airline would be taking a day-by-day, week-by-week approach to assessing the situation but remained committed to operating Bali’s first international airline.

The statement said Mr Wiranatha extended his deep condolences to all the families who had lost loved-ones.

The events also changed the script for the launch of golfer Greg Norman’s new boat ‘Aussie Rules’, which he cancelled out of respect for the victims.

“These events put into perspective the privileges we enjoy and the importance of our loved ones,” Mr Norman said.

For travel agents, the week has also been tough, not only due to the announcement by Air Paradise to defer the launch of the airline, but more immediately as a result of the concerns from tourists.

Bali travel specialist Carolyn Grayburn from Bali and Lombok Travel said the industry had only recently found its feet following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“It’s been pretty hectic,” Ms Grayburn said of the last few days.

“People who are planning to go on holidays in the next few months are putting it on hold. But my main concern at the moment is to get people out of there.”

However, Bali Escape Holidays managing director Mason Adams was surprised by the response from people.

“A lot of people are not perturbed. I would have thought it would have been more negative. We still had people [on the day after the attack] who were booking to go to Bali,”

Mr Adams said he believed the general attitude seemed to be one of defiance or indifference, with people deciding not to let the events affect their lives.

“Tourism is unlikely to suffer the same set-back as occurred following the September 11 attacks,” he said.

“It’s a destination crisis, rather than a travel crisis as occurred after September 11.”

Perth listed emergency medical and evacuation firm Global Doctor Limited has also been stretched to help the victims of the tragedy.

Global Doctor operates medical clinics around Asia, including in Jakarta, and has some association with the Bali International Medical Centre that is part owned by St John of God Healthcare Subiaco CEO Neale Fong.

Global Doctor managing director Gavin Argyle said the company had voluntarily been helping the Australian government with the evacuation and treatment of victims.

He said the company was helping take people out of Bali who had rejected the initial offer from the Australian Government, but later change their mind.

The firm was also helping grieving relatives of the victims.

Global Doctor works mainly on behalf of insurance companies to assist western travellers who get in strife.

However, given the scale of the tragedy, the Government took control of the evacuation.

Mr Argyle said there was also the question over whether travellers would be covered by their insurance policies because of ‘acts of terror or war’ clauses.

Dr Fong told WA Business News that his staff at the Bali International Medical Centre were working around the clock to deal with the victims and to assist grieving friends and relatives.

However, he said the clinic, possibly the only clinic in the country (besides Global Doctor’s Jakarta clinic) that meets western standard care, now faced an uncertain future because of its reliance on the travel trade.

Dr Fong said St John of God Healthcare Subiaco had beds on standby, but was unlikely to be called upon at this stage.

Indeed, most of the casualties that are sent to WA will receive initial treatment at the State’s public teaching hospitals that are better equipped to deal with them.

Royal Perth Hospital was expected to use the revolutionary new “spray on skin” technique developed by Royal Perth Hospital director of burns Fiona Wood and tissue engineering company Clinical Cell Culture on burns patients from the Bali attack.

The spray-on technique is expected to reduce healing time and result in less scarring and is effective when a patient with extensive burns does not have much skin left for grafting.

Automotive Holdings Group director Michelle Harris was at the Bali resort area of Nusa Dua holidaying with family at the time of the bombings but knew little of the events at Kuta until late Sunday.

Even then, Ms Harris said information was hard to come by. With cable TV networks focusing on the economic impact on Indonesia as a whole, she relied on telephone contact with Perth for news.

However, she said her family had been confronted by harrowing scenes at Denpasar airport where they heard first hand accounts of the tragedy as they made their return journey to Perth.

She praised the management at Perth International Airport and Australian Federal Police for the management of returning travellers.

Ms Harris said one of AHG’s dealerships was a sponsor of the decimated Kingsley Football Club, which was understood to have lost seven members in the terror strike.

“I guess the next thing people in my position will want to do is help financially,” Ms Harris said in regard to the feeling of helplessness in the face of such tragedy.

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