Bali suicide bombings could cost economy hundreds of millions of dollars

Last month's suicide bombings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali could cost Indonesia's economy hundreds of millions of dollars, the finance minister said. The near-simultaneous attacks on three crowded restaurants that killed 20 people seriously affected the country's tourism industry, Jusuf Anwar said Thursday.

The bombings, and three other strikes on Western targets since 2002, have been blamed on the al-Qaida-linked regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah.

"The confidence of foreign investors and foreign tourists is down and (last month's bombings) affect the whole related tourism industry, including hotels, restaurant and (travel) services," Anwar said. He said he expected the economy to suffer "trillions and trillions" of rupiah, or hundreds of millions of dollars, in losses, but gave no time frame for his estimate.

Anwar's comments came a day after Indonesian airline Air Paradise suspended services because of a downturn in tourist arrivals to the island since the bombings.

Bali is the main contributor to Indonesia's total annual tourism revenues, which constitute around 5 percent of annual gross domestic product. Last month's terrorist attacks occurred as Bali was recovering from the impact of the 2002 nightclub bombings on the island that killed 202 people, most of them foreign tourists.

Tourism Minister Jero Wacik has lowered the projected number of foreign tourist arrivals for 2005 to 5 million from an original 6 million due the combined impact of the Bali bombings and concerns about bird flu, local media reported earlier this month, reports the AP. I.L.

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