he bomb blast in Bali shocks us for so many reasons. The innocent travelers who were killed had relationships with a cross-section of our industry -- in addition to the other roles in life they played, they were someone's clients, someone's passengers, someone's guests. It's easy to imagine that you or your company could have played a part in some aspect of their trips to Bali.

The attack on Bali shakes our sense of knowing what's likely to be safe and what's a potential terrorist target. Most of us thought of Bali as a peaceful vacation destination that actually lived up to its superlatives -- it was regarded as a near-perfect mix of beauty and culture. Its beaches are extraordinary, its craftwork unique and inexpensive, and -- no small part of its attraction -- most of its people seemed unspoiled by the planeloads of tourists that arrived each day.

And now the airport will go quiet. As far as travelers are concerned, Bali itself vanished in the Oct. 12 blast.

Back in the '60s, '70s and '80s, it seemed that the list of destinations one wouldn't visit grew longer every year.

Much of the Western Hemisphere was out-of-bounds for portions of that era. South America suffered through drug warlords, right-wing dictatorships and left-wing insurgencies. The prospect of driving the Pan American Highway through El Salvador or Nicaragua was unthinkable.

Apartheid made a visit to South Africa a question of conscience, and Marxist leaders made visits to Ethiopia difficult at best. Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Iran and Uganda had all vanished from travelers' maps during that time. Vietnam and Cambodia disappeared for a period of more than 20 years.

In the '90s, much of that seemed to change. With the exception of Colombia, Central and South American nations shed their unwelcoming reputations. Changes in policy and leadership in Vietnam and Cambodia opened doors to tourism. Today, apartheid and Marxism in Africa are studied in history books, but one would be hard-pressed to find their current application.

It's worrisome that, after a decade of seeing more countries reappear than disappear, the pendulum may once again be swinging in the other direction. During the war on terrorism, U.S. travelers will likely focus on destinations that are "on the map," and those, increasingly, will be countries that are perceived as friendly toward Americans.

I'm not suggesting that our nation's foreign policy be dictated by maintaining international relationships for the sole purpose of tourism, but, likewise, there is no reason to unnecessarily offend the citizens of potential allies.

U.S. officials seem to be singularly insensitive to the loss of non-American life in this war. The morning after the blast, the New York Times reported that U.S. officials described the Bali bombings as terrorist acts "that appeared to have been aimed at the U.S."

Whether or not this is true, the statement must have seemed extraordinarily callous and myopic to Australians, Europeans and Balinese, whose casualties far exceeded those of the U.S.

Similarly, after the bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the attacks of Sept. 11, the initial characterization of these events as wholly American tragedies is offensive to other nations who lost citizens.

While expressions of sympathy eventually were forthcoming from U.S. officials to other nations whose nationals died in these attacks, the first American statements were not forgotten.

Anti-Americanism in traditionally friendly nations is perhaps the saddest reason to see a country vanish from travelers' maps. It's a category apart from the examples listed above, in part because it's preventable.

Before our government speaks, it should bear in mind that a global audience is listening.


From Our Partners

Crystal Cruises – What’s Next, 2020 & the 30th Anniversary Collection
Crystal Cruises – What’s Next, 2020 & the 30th Anniversary Collection
Watch Now
Capitalizing on a Peak Year for Alaska Cruising
Read More
2020 Elite Island Webinar
More Family Fun in St. Lucia @ St. James’s Club Morgan Bay
Register Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI