Aussie tourists warned about illegal drug push

By JENI FAULKNER

YOUNG Australians travel to Bali for the experience of a lifetime.

They want to party with the best of them, enjoy the climate of an exotic location, and take part in the ultimate clubbing experience.

Amber, 22, from Coffs Harbour has travelled to Bali seven times and she regularly enjoys the night life.

She has been offered 'hashish' (marijuana) or 'E' (ecstasy) on the streets several times, but says she would never consider buying them.

"I don't take drugs, but even if you did you would be crazy to because some of the sellers could be undercover police," Amber said.

"It isn't worth the risk. It can happen in broad daylight but most people are smart enough to just walk straight past."

This week Australian tourists have been warned that Bali police will step up their campaign against illegal drug taking.

Bali drug squad chief, Bambang Sugiarto, said that tourists will be forced, at random, to submit urine tests while out on the town. He has since clarified these comments though, saying only those 'suspected' would be targeted.

"We don't test just anyone in the pubs and we won't start doing that now," Sugiarto told AAP. "We have to be selective."

Despite his comments travellers are becoming anxious about Indonesian travel, especially those who have never been before.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has backed the Indonesian crackdown after the recent media debate surrounding the arrests of Australian model Michelle Leslie, caught with two ecstasy tablets, the Bali Nine, and Schapelle Corby.

Travel consultant with Kelly Travel, Paul Bonventi, returned from Bali this week and he admits the place is on a high with loads of tourists, especially Australians.

"I specialise in travel to Bali and young people enjoy going there for a party time," Mr Bonventi said.

"Bali has had a boom this year and it is just getting stronger with many travellers returning. But when it comes to travelling people need to have commonsense and be streetwise no matter where they travel."

Mr Bonventi doesn't feel it is a travel agent's obligation to warn tourists about drug-taking abroard because the warnings are obvious and pointed out in basic passport information.

It was Mr Bonventi's 10th visit to Bali last week and although he said he had nothing to hide the possibility of being randomnly drug tested would concern him in such a medically challenged country.

Second secretary for the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, Dino Kusnadi, said the testing was currently taking place in Bali.

"The testing will be for all partygoers, not just tourists and it will be random checks," Mr Kusnadi said.

"It is shock therapy and I doubt there will be a capacity to do it in a wide area. It has been designed as a deterrent 'Don't do drugs and if you do this will happen'."

Mr Kusnadi said drug use was on the rise and these raids would be conducted in classy nightclubs and common areas.



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