Australian surfers will not boycott Indonesia in protest to the Bali Nine executions, according to locals and tourism operators in the region.
Uluwatu bar owner Tai ‘Buddha’ Graham, and a number of locals, have said it will be business as usual for the thousands of surfers who fly in during peak periods of the surfing season between April and October.
“Without being disrespectful, give it a week and I think it’ll be forgotten about (by most of the world),” Graham told Australia’s Stab Magazine.
“Oz is pretty amped on it all, I can see that. But to give you an idea, I had dinner with a Frenchman last night and he didn’t know anything about it.
“You know what surfers are like … they’re hoping people stop going so they get emptier waves. It’s like after the bombs (Bali bombings ’02 and ’05), surfers kept this place alive, not normal tourists. They’re like the saviours of this place, no matter what happens.”
One Australian surfer, who made his first trip to Bali in 1984 and has made 20 trips since, won’t be going back – but it has nothing to do with the executions.
“It would be naive to believe there’d never be another terrorist attack,” said Stab founder and owner of BeachGrit – the respected surf journalist Derek Rielly.
Asked if he thinks there will be another terror attack, Rielly said: “Of course there is. It’s just a matter of when.”
“But more than that, I feel uneasy at a dynamic, which is relatively cheap luxury, that only works because of the exploitation of third world workers. There’s a simmering rage behind the smiles that most people miss. Yeah, I love the restaurants, all those soaring ultra-luxe beachfront bars, the waves. But it is what it is, because of an underclass.”
Australian sentiment and calls for a boycott of Bali were the work of social media warriors, Rielly said.
“It’s a confected outrage, and then it will die down and people will see it as another passing news story,” he said. “Who remembers Van Nguyen ten years ago?”
“As for the executed, I feel for them as human beings. Just as I do for the adulterer stoned in Nigeria, or those beheaded in Saudi Arabia, or the endless executions in the USA, Iran, China.”
As for cancellations in the upcoming surf season, Tony Eltherington, who runs Tony Eltherington Surf Charters in the Mentawais said he was fully booked despite the executions.
“No cancellations yet,” Eltherington wrote. ”I dont think i will have any either really. We will see.”
Eltherington said the numbers of international surfers was down because of a substantial drop of the Brazilian Real, meaning surfing line-ups were emptier than usual.