KUTA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Some restaurants in Bali, Indonesia’s main resort island, have taken chicken and duck off the menu after two Indonesian women died of bird flu in the past two weeks, an official said on Friday.
While Indonesia has reported 84 deaths from bird flu, the tourist island of Bali had, until this month, not suffered any human fatalities from the disease. Now, officials fear that the two deaths from bird flu in Bali could hit tourism.
Cok Ardhana, head of the Indonesian Association of Hotels and Restaurants in Bali, told Reuters that some restaurants had dropped chicken and duck dishes due to lack of demand from foreigners.
“This is to show customers that the local tourism industry is doing something to keep people safe from bird flu,” he said.
Less than two weeks ago, a 29-year-old Indonesian woman from west Bali died of bird flu, the first confirmed death on the resort island. A 28-year-old poultry trader in Tanah Lot village, a popular tourist site in southwest Bali, died on Tuesday in a hospital in the capital, Denpasar.
Both cases have prompted fears the outbreak could spread and local officials have ordered the culling of thousands of chickens and introduced a ban on transporting fowl.
The tourism industry in Bali, a predominantly Hindu island in mostly Muslim Indonesia, is starting to recover after suicide bombers killed more than 200 people in late 2002, and another 20 people in October 2005.
The island regularly hosts large international conventions and is due to hold an important U.N. climate change conference in December which about 10,000 people are expected to attend.
Bagus Yudhara, a senior adviser with the local tourism council, said that although the recent cases had not scared travel agencies and tourists, there was pressure on the government to act quickly.
“The world is watching us closely. The fate of our tourism industry depends on how we handle the situation,” he said.
Contact with sick fowl is the most common way for humans to contract the disease.