Five months after the first Bali
bombing, in October 2002, Sandee Litwin, president of Litwin Travel
in Los Angeles, visited the island. She was so impressed with what
she saw that she began focusing on selling the destination. In
short order, she was recognized by both National Geographic
Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines as a Bali expert.
Though Bali never
represented a very large percentage of her business, its a
destination close to her heart.
If it werent so far
away, I would have bought a second home there, she told me last
First and foremost,
its the people and the culture. But it also has the great food, the
great shopping, the beautiful beaches and scenery. Its so special
-- theres no place like it.
When she started
gaining expertise in the destination after the first bombing,
bookings were slow to come in, but recently, it was coming back
beautifully, she said.
After the magazine
articles came out [listing her as a Bali specialist], I had people
contacting me from around the world via the Web. Lots of
She shook her head
sadly. Litwin had plans to return to Bali later this
In discussing if
she would still go, she seemed to be thinking aloud, in free
association, her thoughts creating an internal debate that I
suspect reflected an ambivalence many in the industry were
Whats the future
for Bali? she wondered. I hope people will say, No one can tell me
where to go. You know, I didnt have any cancellations for London
after those bombings.
"I think people
today dont want to be intimidated. But look at 9/11 -- sometimes it
And then: Before I
go, Ill need to make a lot of calls.
uneasily in her chair, perhaps uncomfortable starting down a path
that might lead her to decide against going.
Im inclined to go.
We have to set an example.
further resolve: To be an expert, you need to keep going, to find
out for yourself whats going on.
is, I believe, part of the process were all going through as were
repeatedly exposed to terrorism.
Each new exposure
adds unexpected wrinkles, ones that keep us off balance.
This bombing was
not as devastating as the last, at least not as far as the death
But as a repeat
target of terrorism, Balis long-term prospects for tourism may have
been dealt a far deeper blow.
My friend Peter
Bates, president of the marketing firm Strategic Vision, consults
to an upscale hotel chain that has a property in Bali.
Before the second
bombings, he had made arrangements for an acquaintance of his to
stay at the property on her honeymoon next month.
the bombings, she called and asked him if she could stay in the
chains property in Chiang Mai, Thailand, instead.
I told her that if
she was going to cancel Bali for Thailand, there was a much better
place she could go, a place more appropriate, given the
circumstances, Bates said.
I told her the
chain also has a property in Phuket -- a property that has now
fully recovered from the effects of the tsunami.
Of course, theres
no link between natural disasters and terrorism, except in human
But my mind has
created another link -that after tragedy, there is ultimately
recovery, and that we must do what we can to facilitate
Ill understand if
Sandee Litwin decides not to go to Bali, but, on an emotional
level, I really want her to go.
Realistic or not, I
want Balis recovery to begin.