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BALI UPDATE #377 - 01 December 2003

You Tell 'Em Richard!
Virgin Airway Boss Urges the World to 'Travel to Terror Targets.'

The colorful and often controversial Head of Virgin Airways, Sir Richard Branson, has gone on record urging his fellow British countrymen to ignore the advice of the U.K. Foreign Office and travel to areas currently covered by official travel warnings.

Emphasizing that terrorism is a world-wide phenomenon, he has suggested that warnings should only be issued by governments when there is specific intelligence related to a threat. Sir Richard pointed out that generalized warnings against travel to places like Turkey, Bali and Kenya only served to play into the hands of terrorists and end up causing undue suffering on the people who work in the travel industry.



Bali Becomes a Euro Bargain
Surging Value of Euro Makes Bali a Bargain for EU Community Visitors.

The rapidly escalating value of the Euro against the U.S. Dollar may reap an unexpected boost for Bali tourism.

On Friday, November 28, 2003, the Euro broke the psychological barrier of US$ 1.20 mid way through the European session. This represents an all-time peak for the European common currency with economic pundits predicting a continuing climb to US$ 1.25 to one Euro by June of 2004 as the Greenback weakens against a pattern of unbridled public spending and debt accumulation by the Bush Administration.

Impact on Bali Tourism

Because most tourism products in Bali, such as hotels and transportation components, are quoted in U.S. Dollars, Bali and Indonesia as a whole are destined to become increasingly attractive to both European and U.S. Visitors alike.

European tourists, once they overcome the psychological barriers imposed by negative travel advisories, will discover Bali holidays cost 20-25% less than they did just a year ago due to the strength of their home currency. Meanwhile, U.S. visitors will find Bali continues to be attractively priced in comparison to a European holiday which, priced in Euro's, has become 20-25% more expensive to dollar earners over the past year.

All tour prices listed on balidiscovery.com are listed in U.S. Dollars.

Now that is good news!


Your Chance to Appear in a Music Video
Extras Sought for Kitana Music Video Shooting in Bali on December 6, 2003.

Australian singer song-writer Kitana is traveling to Bali to record her new music-video Forever Precious on Kuta's Legian Beach.

Sponsored by Garuda Indonesia and The Jayakarta Hotel, Kitana will be arriving in Bali from Australia on Wednesday, December 3, 2003 and be shooting her video on the beach opposite the Jayakarta Hotel during the day on Sunday, December 7, 2003, starting from 9 a.m..

You Ought To Be in Pictures, You Ought To Be A Star

Here's your chance to appear in Kitana's Forever Precious music video expected to be shown throughout Australia and around the world. The shooting script calls for a "huge" crowd and supposedly all you need to do to have your chance to appear in the Forever Precious music video is show up on the beach at 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 6. Recording your moments of fame will be a production team from Xplore Media - producers of music videos for Australian music stars such as John Williamson and Ted Egan.

Music Video Sales to Support the People of Bali

When released in early 2004, the proceeds from the sale of the single Forever Precious will be donated entirely to the Zero to One Foundation - a charity supporting educational and medical relief in Bali. According to Kitana's Personal Assistant, Mr. Michael Mahoney, the Australian performer is excited to have the opportunity to support the people of Bali while at the same time sending a message to the world that Bali is still a beautiful, fun-loving place to visit.

More information: Kitana's Website


Keeping Kids in School
December 6th Jaya Suprana Concert to Help Curb Bali's Drop-Out Rate.

A recent World Bank, USAID, and UNDP study on the impact of the October 2002 terrorist attack on Bali's economy identified that the adverse impact on incomes and employment also had ramifications in the educational sector. Specific problems with families paying school fees, schools maintaining their educational standards with diminished revenues, and children forced to drop-out of the school system were among the main education-related problems identified by the study. An astounding 31.6% average island-wide drop-out rate was recorded in April 2003, with the worst affected regencies reporting rates as high as 60%. By comparison, drop-out rates prior to the October attack last year in the same districts ranged between 0 to 5%.

In order to try to stem the flow of school drop-outs in Bali and the grave consequences this situation portends for the future, the Bali International Women's Association (BIWA) is sponsoring a piano recital "Indonesian Pusaka" - performed by nationally famous entertainer Mr. Jaya Suprana on Saturday, December 6, 2003, at the Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel. Mr. Suprana is donating his performance for the evening to assist BIWA in their fund-raising drive to combat school drop-outs.

Tickets for the performance cost Rp. 75,000 for adults (approximately US$ 8.80) and Rp. 35,000 for students (approximately US$ 4.10). VIP tickets including a post concert on-stage cocktail reception with Mr. Suprana are available for Rp. 200,000 per person (approximately US$ 23.50).

Professional Event Management for the evening is provided by Bali Discovery Tours.



First Family Holidays in Bali
President Megawati Spends 5 Days at Sheraton Laguna.

After spending Tuesday, the first day of the official 2-day celebration of Idul Fitri receiving well-wishers in Jakarta, she departed for Bali on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 together with her family to spend a brief 5-day holiday in Bali.

Arriving late in the afternoon on Wednesday by private aircraft President Megawati Soekarnoputri was greeted at Bali's airport by Bali's Governor, the local military commander, and the Chief of Police for Bali.

Billed strictly as a private visit to the Island, the details of the First Family's program were not released to the press. However, on Friday morning, President Megawati together with her daughter paid a brief visit to the Bali Bird Park before continuing onto Ubud for lunch at a local restaurant followed by a visit to the Tampaksiring Palace built by her late Father, President Soekarno.

Accommodation for the President and her family during the holiday was at the Sheraton Laguna Resort in Nusa Dua.


Brent Hesselyn: The Images Linger
The Passing of a Remarkable Man Commemorated in an Exhibition of His Photos at Jenggala Ceramics.

Last September, Bali marked the sad anniversary of the loss of Brent Hesselyn, one of the founding fathers of Jenggala Keramik, - a man possessing a tremendous range of natural gifts and a zest for living life to its fullest. A native New Zealander, Brent made his home in Bali, built Jenggala into a world-wide name for qulaity ceramics, and still found time to work tirelessly for the promotion of the island's culture and art.

An Exhibition of Brent Hesselyn's Photographs

The ceramics created by Jenggala Keramik under Brent's tutelage represent a lasting tribute to the man's refinement and taste. However, Brent's dedication to the arts was also reflected in many other creative pursuits. Previous to co-founding Jenggala, Brent created a library of photographs which are a unique representation of Bali in the 1970's. These images reflect his amazing enthusiasm, curiosity and appreciation for the then almost undisturbed ancient Balinese culture. His photographs pay great attention to detail. And, like the Man himself, have a special warmth, empathy and humor, as well as a unique photographer's talent for clarity and poignancy.

Jenggala Keramik Bali will be holding an exhibition of these photographs starting on Friday December 19, 2003.

Friends wishing to contribute any stories or photographs commemorating a most remarkable man at this exhibition should contact Amy Worth at Jenggala Ceramics

[Amy's E-mail Contact].



One Bali Community's Answer to Political Activity
Tanjung Benoa Says 'No' to Party Politics.

The people of the hamlet of Tanjung Benoa, a village immediately east of the Nusa Dua Complex in South Bali, have declared that their area will be "campaign free" for the three months immediately prior to the April 5 national elections.

Because the community of Tanjung Benoa has scheduled a major religious ceremony - Karya Agung Memunkah at their temple Pura Dalem Kahyangan to occur on April 6, 2004, the villagers have decided any desire for local political activity must take a second priority to maintaining harmony and ritual purity in all areas surrounding the temple in the period leading up to the sacred event.

According to the Village Chief of Tanjung Benoa, Mr. Wayan Dibya Adnyana, the desire to maintain a "campaign free" zone in Tanjung Benoa has been socialized to the 6 major political parties active in Bali who have reportedly accepted the decision of the local population in this matter.

To emphasize local solidarity and national unity in the current period prior to the moratorium on campaign activities, all 6 parties flew their party flags together at Tanjung Benoa on Friday, November 28, 2003. Each party raised their flag on a single pole together with the national flag of Indonesia.

Tougher Stance on Non-Residents

In announcing the ban on political campaigns in Tanjung Benoa, the village leader, Mr. Wayan Dibya Adnyana, also revealed that his office is adopting a much tougher stand on non-indigenous people living in Tanjung Benoa who cannot produce complete certificates of identity and demonstrate full-time employment.

Mr. Adnyana complained that many outside workers from other islands employed on construction projects at Tanjung Benoa have remained in the village long after their employment has finished. This, he claims, has created a burden on local resources and created tensions in the community.

The new "get tough" policy in which "floating residents" will be asked to move on, is in line with recent calls by Bali Chief of Police, Inspector I Made Mangku Pastika, for local communities to be more vigilant in supervising local residency issues and his request that people going to Java for the holidays not to bring back family members and friends hoping to look for work in Bali.


Garuda Profits for 2003 Expected to Plunge
Numerous Factors Cited in Anticipate Drop in Profits of Up to 80%.

Citing the SARS Panic, the Iraqi war, and world-wide terror fears as the underlying cause - Garuda Indonesia is anticipating a drop by as much as 80% in their profits for the fiscal year 2003.

The Airlines President Director, Mr. Indra Setiawan, has projected profits of only Rp. 100 billion (approximately US$ 11.67 million) for the current year, compared to Rp. 503 billion (approximately US$ 59.17 million) from just one year before. Pointing to an improving business environment, Garuda's Chief Executive was optimistic that profits for 2004 would continue to improve, expecting profit results of something between Rp. 300 400 billion.

Mr. Setiawan blamed the SARS panic, the invasion of Iraq and domestic terrorist threats as the major contributors to Garuda's sub-par performance in the current year.

During the first quarter of this year the Airline managed to book a profit of Rp. 32.77 billion, down from a targeted Rp. 116.8 billion as the carrier struggled to overcome the sudden drop in passengers due to the October 2002 terrorist attack in Bali. In order to maintain profitability, Garuda undertook dramatic steps throughout 2003 including closing unprofitable routes to China; stopping flight operations between Medan (North Sumatra) and Singapore; and reducing flight frequencies to Japan, Australia and the Middle East.

In November of 2001 Garuda Indonesia restructured its debt. Because of that restructuring the Carrier managed to pay US$ 114.77 million dollars in principal and interest in 2002 due to enhanced operational efficiencies. It is unclear how the reduced revenues and profits for 2003 will impact the Airline's ability to meet its restructured debt obligations.


Opposition to Visa Policy Gaining Ground?
President and Cabinet May Be Re-thinking Plans to Introduce Visa-On-Arrival.

Reports in the English-language Jakarta Post are lending fuel to speculation that the plan to introduce a visa-purchase-on-arrival policy on January 1, 2004 may be delayed for the indefinite future.

While immigration and tourism officials continue to try to decide implementation guidelines and exactly how much to charge tourists for their visas, the Jakarta Post reports that the introduction of the new policy is "postponed" while "the President must consider opposition from the tourism industry."

Opposition to the plan to charge between US$ 20 - 35 for a 30 day visa has been widespread and vociferous from tourism circles, who see such a plan as a giant step backwards in efforts to revitalize a national tourism industry teetering on the verge of collapse. Among the steps taken to oppose the policy are intense lobbying efforts launched by tourism leaders in Jakarta and peaceful mass demonstrations staged by the tourism industry in Bali.

President Megawati Soekarnoputri signed an official decree on March 31, 2003, removing the current visa-free-arrival enjoyed by 48 countries to be replaced by a paid visa on arrival system, originally scheduled to be introduced on December 1, 2003.

Mr. Yusril Izha Mahendra, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights who has championed the new visa policy has reportedly confirmed to the press that the policy will not be introduced on December 1, 2003.

Separate reports indicate that retired Economic Minister for Indonesia, Mr. Frans Seda, has joined the debate fray, formally writing the Nation's leadership urging plans to introduce the visa-fee be scrapped or postponed.

The current debate raging in Jakarta does little to clarify the situation for tourism operators and those planning to visit Indonesia. While little is certain, apparently changes in the policy will not occur on December 1, 2003.

Whether those changes will now occur on January 1, 2004, or much later remains, at least at this stage, anyone's guess.


HIV/AIDS Cases in Bali Increase
Bali Now 6th Largest Area of Infection Nationwide.

Antara News Agency reports that Bali health officials now estimate 370 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS have been found on Bali.

Quoting Mr. I Made Molin Yudiarsa from the Bali Provincial Health Office, the report said 321 people, or roughly 87% of the total are suffering from the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) while remaining 49 people are exhibiting symptoms of the more advanced Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Most of those suffering from HIV/AIDS in Bali are between the ages of 20-29 years with 21 of the cases reported among foreign residents of the island.



Editorial: A Vitally Important Gathering in Bali
'United in Diversity' Forum in Bali December 7-8 Represents a Bold and Visionary Attempt to Deal with What Currently Ails Indonesia.

Some of the region's and the world's leading lights from the business, public and civil society sectors are scheduled to gather in Bali December 7 & 8, 2003, to participate in the United in Diversity Forum.

Bold and innovative in its approach, the Forum seeks to create a collaborative education platform to foster dialogue between the diverse sectors of business, civil society and public sector to harness Indonesia's almost limitless economic potential to support a successful and equitable transition to becoming the world's third largest democracy.

Building Trust for a Common Future

In recognition of the urgency of the task at hand and the grave consequences for Indonesia's people if they fail, an impressive list of international leaders from every walk of life will be sitting down together in Bali to map strategies for future stability, to heal the wounds of cultural confrontation, promote equitable access to educational resources, and reaffirm a shared commitment for the fundamentally important task ahead.

Supported by MIT Sloan School of Management, University of Indonesia, and Sinar Harapan Publishing Group, "United in Diversity Froum" will host respected international statesmen, diplomats, educators, legalists, financiers, entertainers, business people and community leaders to, as explained by World Bank President James D. Wolfenson, bring "together government, civil society and private sector in a coordinated approach to the development of the country, the sharing of values, the sharing of objectives, in a way that the old contradictions and competitiveness between civil society, private sector and government did not allow."

Will any forum eliminate the sharp differences in viewpoint and approach existing among the divergent sectors of Indonesian society? Nobody supposes for a moment that it will. The very pretext for the coming Forum is that any differences of opinions between various sectors of society are of secondary importance to a common shared desire to build a just and democratic society. Once when once divirgent individuals acknowledge a shared consensus on societal goals does mutually beneficial cooperation becomes possible; only then does diversity becomes a strength.

No Turning Back

As economist Lester Thurow of the Sloan School of Management, one of the speakers at the coming Forum, often points out: a wheel is composed of many spokes that provide the wheel its strength and integrity by pointing in opposite directions but move in a common direction down a single path.

Sadly, Mr. Thurow's simple analogy is lost on those who believe progress operates on the basis of dialectics; that only open conflict can foster societal change. Misguided, these individuals oppose gatherings such as the coming Forum, seeing transparency and dialog across sectors to build trust and unity as a manipulative charade by the powerful to appease and 'buy off' the disenfranchised.

We have a deeply held conviction that such 'nay sayers' are wrong. We are certain that there exists vast areas of common ground for united effort without anyone being required to compromise their deeply felt beliefs.

To our mind, a shared desire for a better tomorrow is the common hub that hold the spokes of our unwieldy wheel together; it's also perhaps our only hope for the difficult road that lied ahead for Indonesia.

We look forward to the United in Diversity Forum to be held in Bali December 7-8, 2003.



 
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