“So disappointing”: Bali-themed festival forced to apologise, issue refunds and offer free entry

Organisers of a festival aiming to quench the thirst of those who would rather be in Bali right now have apologised, issued refunds and offered free entry after attendees claim they were “lied to” and left “underwhelmed”.

BaliFest Australia, which took place in Mandurah from 2 to 6 April, boasted the promise of “bringing Bali and its culture, food, entertainment, shopping and leisure lifestyle to Australia” and provide funds for struggling Balinese people.

However, many of those who attended the event, which cost $30 to enter, said it didn’t even come close, according to the flurry of complaints posted on the event’s Facebook page.

“The market stalls were average, with half of them not even Bali-related, and the food choices were limited – especially if you wanted Balinese style cuisine,” Michelle Wulff wrote.

“The event seemed like it was slapped together at the last minute with the Bali theme forgotten about altogether!

“At a $30 entry fee, it is very overpriced! I would’ve rather donated it directly to the Balinese and seen it all go to them.”

Image source: Facebook/BaliFest Australia

Balinese local Ari Apsaro Dewi said the event should have consulted more with the Balinese community.

“Currently, there’s nothing there reflecting our culture nor traditions (okay, except for the Bintangs), so I completely understand how disappointed people are,” she commented on the BaliFest Australia Facebook page.

“If you had taken the time to contact the Perth Balinese community, I’m pretty sure they would’ve let you borrow some palm trees, umbrellas, umbul2 etc to create a little more atmosphere.”

Image source: Facebook/BaliFest Australia

The event posted a public apology to Facebook on 5 April promising refunds and free entry for the remainder of the event.

“We’re taking this opportunity after several days of the festival to publicly apologise to those who have expressed that they feel lied to and underwhelmed by the whole event,” the statement read.

“We would also like to wholeheartedly apologise to the Balinese community who were offended by our lack of cultural representation.”

Event organisers said the team behind the festival put in “a lot of effort”, but claimed COVID-19 restrictions hindered the overall execution of the event “along with oversights from everyone involved”.

“We would also like to publicly clarify that we will be honouring the donations to the Balinese charities from ticket sales next week, and can only ask that those who receive refunds will donate to the cause themselves,” they said.

“We are proud of our effort to fundraise, but take every bit of feedback seriously and will use it as a lesson to improve and learn on our mistakes this time around.”

According to Perth Now, several people have said they will be lodging complaints with the ACCC.

“I will be lodging a complaint and I want to see a report of where the money they’ve raised actually goes to the charities,” Gail Barrett told the news outlet.

“It was nothing like Bali. There were hardly any stalls open or food trucks promoting Bali cuisine, or any cultural dancers … it was absolute false advertising.”

Featured image source: Facebook/BaliFestAustralia