A New Zealand aid worker who has ignored the government's travel warning to Bali says security on the island is good, but tourism continues to suffer.
Richard Barter, who is the Tear Fund's microenterprise development manager, is part of a group of ten from New Zealand who are in Bali to help local victims of the recent bombings.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is still advising against all travel to Bali following the October 12 explosions that killed almost 190 people.
Mr Barter says he was asked by a presentation director at TVNZ, Richard Poore, and his wife Gill to join their team, which includes two burn nurses and cameramen, to Bali. A documentary on the week-long expedition is being filmed.
Mr Barter said Mr and Mrs Porre, who were on the island when the attack occurred, had organised the trip to take back medical supplies and to "bring attention to the lot of the poor people" in Bali.
Mr Barter was invited to join the team because, the Tear Fund, a Christian relief and development organisation, has been working in Bali for ten years and has contacts with local relief organisations.
"There are large numbers of very poor people in Bali," Mr Barter said from his hotel in Kuta today.
More than 70 boxes of medical supplies, including dressings and drugs, were donated by New Zealand hospitals.
The mood in Bali is one of despair as tourism operators count the cost of the bombings on their businesses.
"I have interviewed tourists and local business owners here. They are most concerned about the travel warnings from various governments."
Hotel occupancy in Bali, where tourism is the main revenue earner is down from 70 per cent to 11 per cent
Asked about his own safety, Mr Barter, who has travelled to trouble spots like Colombia, Kosovo and Ivory Coast, said he did not have any fears.
"I don't travel as a tourist and I am aware that events like this happen all over the world in an isolated way. The reality here in Bali is that security is good."
Barter said the devastation to the Sari nightclub and surrounding area in Kuta was still very evident. Although the streets had been cleared of debris, "the closer one gets to the site, the more evident the destruction becomes.
"Buildings have been destroyed and it is like a massive earthquake hit the area," Barter said.
While Indonesian police forensic teams have set up base near the site, groups of people stream to "ground zero" to pay their respects. Large piles of flowers have been placed at the scene.
- HERALD STAFF
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