BALI UPDATE #391 - 08
Bali Now Connected
to Australia's North West
joins Austasia Airlines Inaugural flight to Broome
On Friday, March 5, 2004, Austasia Airlines
inaugurated its new once-weekly service between
Bali and two destinations in Australia's northwest
– Broome and Karratha. The new flight will provide
easy and inexpensive access for those living in
the relatively remote Pilbara and Kimberley regions
of Australia's Northwest to Bali and onward destinations
in Indonesia and other international destinations,
while providing a gateway to the rich natural
wonders of Australia's North West for incoming
The flight, using Boeing 737-400 aircraft chartered
from Merpati Nusantara Airline,
will depart every Friday from Bali's International
Airport at 9:10 a.m. arriving in Broome 2 hours
later at 11:10 a.m.. The same aircraft departs
Broome at 12:40 p.m. for Karratha where it lands
at 1:50 p.m.. The return leg from Karratha to
Bali takes off at 2:35 p.m. landing at 4:50 p.m..
Special air and accommodation prices have been
launched starting from AU$ 896 plus taxes including
point-to-point flights and 7 nights accommodation
On the inaugural touch down in Broome the landing
aircraft received a royal welcome with two fire
trucks crossing their water streams above the
taxiing Boeing 737. Inside the terminal a mid-day
cocktail reception saw commemorative souvenirs
distributed to arriving passengers and brief speeches
by Mr. Ed Turner, Managing Director of Austasia
Airlines; Mr. Ian Laurance, Chairman
of Australia's North West charged
with promoting the region's tourism; and the Member
for Kimberly, Ms. Carol Martin who spoke on behalf
of the Minister for Tourism, the Honorable Bob
Kucera. Operating with a special exemption, the
aircraft was allowed to carry a group of "domestic"
VIP passengers between Broome and Karratha for
a similar celebration there where Shire President
for Roebourne officiated at another welcoming
Mr. Ed Turner, Managing Director of Austasia
Airlines, which already operates a regular
service connecting Christmas Island (Australia)
with Indonesia, said "we are committed to this
service because we believe that the Pilbara and
the Kimberly regions contribute a huge amount
to the State and Federal economy and the people
who live and work in this region deserve direct
international air flights." Turner also said that
initial bookings ex Australia had been very promising,
adding, "each week the level of bookings has been
increasing and our forward bookings for Easter
and the school holidays are very good."
Figures - What Do They Mean?
Bali by the Numbers:
Depending on How You View Them, February Arrival
Figures Either Vindicate or Condemn the New Visa
Preliminary figures showing 84,348 direct foreign
arrivals via Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport in February
2004 can be cited by both sides in the hotly contested
debate over the wisdom of the Government's decision
to impose a US$ 25 visa on arrival fee on the
nationals of 21 countries and require pre-arranged
visas from the nationals of a host of other countries
given visas without charge prior to the introduction
of the new police on February 1, 2004.
The Pros and the Cons
• The Pros will cite the 25.02% improvement
for February 2004 arrivals over February 2003
as proof that the visa fee is having no
effect on tourism arrival numbers.
• The Cons will cite the same arrival figures
and come to a different conclusion:
a) the 25.02% improvement for February 2004 shows
a slow-down in recovery as compared with
the 55.88% rate of improvement achieved in January
– the month before the visa free policy was introduced.
From this perspective, they claim that the visa-on-arrival
policy has slowed Bali's tourism recovery by at
b) Although February's figures represent an improvement
over the same month in 2003, it must be factored
in that the 2003 figures still showed the devastating
after-effects of the October 2002 bombing;
c) Seen historically, February 2004's performance
represents a retreat of ten years in Bali tourism,
with arrival totals roughly resembling those achieved
d) Based on the historical data, the new policy
has pushed Bali's recovery back at least another
7 years: While January's arrivals (without the
new visa policy) resembled totals achieved 3 years
earlier in 2000-2001, February's figures (following
the visa change) were reminiscent of totals achieved
10 years ago in 1993-1994.
• The Pros favoring the visa policy will
also boast that because of the new policy more
than US$ 1.65 million was collected in visa fees
by the Government from incoming tourists in Bali
• The Cons, meanwhile, will counter that
suggestion reminding that, based on the Government's
own estimations of average spend by each tourist
visiting Indonesia of US$ 1,000, the US$ 1.65
million collected in visa fees translates into
an equivalent out-of-pocket spend by only 2% of
the total February arrivals. In other words, if
the new policy costs Bali more than 2% of its
potential visitors, then the nation is the overall
loser in terms of foreign exchange earnings.
• The Cons will further underline this
point in their analysis, citing the 55.88% improvement
in arrivals in the month before the new policy
which declined to a 25.02% improvement in February.
If February 2004's arrival had shown the same
level of visitor improvement as January an additional
US$ 20.82 million in foreign exchange would have
been earned by the island's tourism industry.
Using this statistical method and deducting the
US$ 1.6 in visa fees collected in February and
Bali's economy experiences a shortfall of US$
19.17 million in foreign exchange caused by the
new visa policy.
The Jury's Still Out
While the statistics on Bali's arrival are being
hurled about with equal ferocity by those on both
sides of the current visa polemic, it appears
the jury is still very much "out" in deciding
whether or not the policy of charging a visa fee
to many visitors to Indonesia represents good
January Arrival Figures
Compared 2001 – 2004
Bali by the Numbers:
January Arrivals Show Asia-Pacific Fights Back
While Other Markets Remain Stagnant Operating
at 1993 Levels.
Foreign direct arrival figures released for January
2004 demonstrate that the Asia-Pacific market
may be slowly regaining ground while other major
inbound markets remain extremely stagnant.
Total arrivals for January 2004 totaled 104,062
– an encouraging 71% improvement over the still-traumatized
post-Bali-bombing total of 60,836 recorded in
January 2003. Any desire to celebrate these numbers,
however, is tempered against a longer historical
perspective; Bali's overall direct tourist arrivals
for January 2004 were at levels similar to those
achieved 5 years ago in 1999.
Asia-Pacific Staging a Comeback
The January figures do provide an indication that
the important Asia-Pacific market may be regaining
its bearings and making a comeback for Bali increasing
Australian travelers were up 276% in January as
compared to a year earlier totaling 18,658 – numbers
approximating arrivals achieved in 2001. Equally
encouraging, the Japanese also snapped back regaining
ground lost since 2000 by increasing 93% in January
as compared to a year earlier, totaling 19,861
visitors. The Taiwanese market similarly showed
restored vigor increasing 93% to 17,206 visitors,
matching arrival totals achieved by Taiwan in
2002. Meanwhile, the much ballyhooed Mainland
Chinese market suddenly showed promise in January
tallying in at 3,915 visitors, breaking into 4
digit territory for the first time in January.
ASEAN Business Drops
ASEAN arrivals sputtered in January, dropping
6.97% overall as compared to the same month one
year before. The largest decline was in the Singapore
market- down 34.84% at 3,333 visitors, possibly
reflecting the lack of very special price offers
available to Bali last year ex-Singapore. One
bright spot was provided by Malaysia which posted
a 54.39% improvement over last year at 3,344 visitors
managing at the same time to displace Singapore
as ASEAN's top producer to Bali for January.
The Americas – A 10-Year Retreat
Burdened by continued travel advisories the America's
managed to improve 13.79% in January, totaling
4,934. Signs of renewed interest – in spite of
cautionary advisories – was seen from the U.S.
and Canadian markets which improved 25.01% and
19.92% respectively in January as compared to
one year before.
Again, a longer historical view of the America's
market to Bali brings little cause for joy with
arrivals operating at levels reminiscent of totals
achieved more than 10 years earlier in 1993.
Europe Still in the Doldrums
Overall European arrival figures improved 21.97%
in January as compared to the same month one year
before. But seen from a longer perspective Europe
is still functioning at overall levels reflective
of a decade earlier in 1993.
Major inbound producers from the European market,
such as the United Kingdom and Germany, showed
little signs of rebounding from the low levels
of January 2003.
One bright note was provided by Russia, which
rose 510.71% in January posting 2,907 visitors,
many of whom traveled to Bali on special private
Fame is for the Birds
National Finalists in Talent Telequest Hosted to a Day at the Bali Bird Park.
During a promotional tour to Bali the 12 finalists
in Akademi Fantasi Indosiar national
telequest were hosted to an afternoon with the
more than 1,500 birds at Bali's Bird Park
in Singapadu, just north of the capital, Denpasar.
The 12 finalists who sang and danced each week on a nationally televised musical show to defeat thousands of other contestants across the nation were in Bali as part of their package of prizes, meeting the thousands of fans who have been following their fast track to stardom.
Following the visit to the Bali Bird Park the contestants were escorted to a private residence of a royal family in Sanur to enjoy lunch at the Puri Santrian Hotel. The talented finalists met a tourism industry veteran Mr. Ida Bagus Tjetana, together with two young tourism entrepreneurs Mr. Ida Bagus Ngurah Kumbayana and Mr. Ida Bagus Gde Sidartha Putra familiarizing themselves with Sanur's famed tourism industry.
More Ports Added for Visa on Arrival
14 New Air and Sea Ports Will Now Issue Visas on Arrival.
Bowing to pressure and harsh criticism from tourism operators, the Government has added 14 additional sea and air ports to the list of international gateways able to grant visas-on arrival
to the citizens of 21 selected countries and territories. The new ports announced in a decision by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights on February 17, 2004, brings to 29 the ports designated as gateways able to process the new pay-on-arrival visas.New Airports
The airports added to the list are:
• Halim Perdana Kusuma in Jakarta
• Adisucipto in Yogyakarta
• Adisumarmo in Solo
• Selaparang in Mataram, Lombok
• Sepinggan in Balikpapan, Kalimantan
• Hasanudddin in Makasar, Sulawesi
• Eltari in Kupang, Timor
The airports already enjoying the visa-on-arrival facility are:
• ManadoNew Sea Ports
The additional seaports now eligible to grant visas on arrival are:
• Teluk Bayar in Padang, Sumatra
• Tanjung Balaikarimun
• Tanjung Mas in Semarang
• Tenau in Kupang
• Pare Pare in Sulawesi
• Soekarno-Hatta in Makassar, Sualwesi
The Seaports already granting the visa facility are:
• Tanjung Uban in Bintan
• Belawan in Medan, Sumatra
• Sibolga in Sumatra
• Padang Bai in Bali
• Jayapura in Papua
Nurjaya Calls For Industry Report on Visa Policy
Director of Tourism Authority Challenges Bali Industry to Compile Data on Implementation of Visa Policy.
Mr. I Gede Nurjaya, the Director of the Bali Tourism Authority (BTA) has called on stakeholders in Bali's tourism industry to enumerate any objections and problems they have with the recently imposed visa policy in a formal report to his office.
The request, made during a meeting with tourism professionals organized by the Pacific Asia Travel Association Chapter (PATA) on Friday, February 27, 2004, was made by the Chief of the BTA in order that his office can accumulate data to assist the Government in its ongboing review of the new policy.
Urging people to channel their comments for compilation through the local PATA Chapter, Mr. Nurjaya promised that any information would be shared with the Central Government and with immigration authorities charged with evaluating the policy.
Those attending the meeting with Mr. Nurjaya, claimed the change in policy had been inadequately socialized internationally as evidenced by the more than 80 tourists refused entry to Bali during the first month of the new immigration policy. Many called on the Government to devise an official policy that would allow a short term stay permit for the nationals of countries not on the visa-on-arrival list who arrive in Bali without a visa. In a strict enforcement of the current policy, nationals of those countries ineligible for visas-on-arrival are refused entry and immediately sent back to their home countries or to Singapore to obtain the necessary visa before attempting to return to Indonesia.
Asia Escapes to Bali
Brings Entire Team to Bali to Celebrate Bali's
Booming Tourism Numbers.
A long holiday weekend in their home-base of Perth,
Western Australia, prompted the President Director
of Asia Escape Holidays, Mr.
Mason Adams, to bring his entire office team to
Bali for some much needed rest and relaxation
on February 27, 2004.
While the group was in town, they took the opportunity to hold a "thank you" party for local travel partners at the Waterbom Park on Saturday evening, February 28. A large group of local hoteliers and travel professionals enjoyed drinks and food around the Park's torch-lit pool while celebrating the rapid increase in business from the Australian market and Asia Escape's growing share of that market.
Minister Insists Visa On Arrival Not a Problem
Minister Ardika Insists Visa Fee Not Affecting Tourism Flows.
Indonesia's Minister of Tourism and Culture, I Gede Ardika, is quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia as saying that to date the visa-on-arrival policy is not adversely affecting the total tourism visits to Indonesia while making a significant contribution to the Country's tax coffers.
Minister Ardika told a meeting of Commission VI of the National Parliament that "the direct contribution to State revenues from the visa-on-arrival is very significant." The Minister went on to say that he hoped the money obtained could be used to improve immigration facilities and improve security, and to increase the number of international sea and air gateways particularly in areas with a strong potential for tourism. He also suggested that a potion of the funds collected should be set aside for the promotion of Indonesia's image abroad.
In the first 23 days of the new policy introduced on February 1, 2004, Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport was the largest visa fund generator bringing in over Rp. 10 billion (approximately US$ 1.18 million). Bali's position as the main revenue generator was followed by Jakarta, Tanjung Uban (Bintan), Batam, and Surabaya.
No Negative Impact on Arrival Totals
Minister Ardika pointed to February arrival totals that were well ahead of the same period in 2003 as proof that the new visa policy was not adversely affecting arrival totals.
The main complaint, according to the Minister, concerns problems surrounding the speed with which tourists are being processed at the Nation's tourism gateways.
A Political Pause
Local Political Parties Agree to Call Four Day 'Time Out' During Nyepi Celebrations.
The opening round in Indonesia's first direct political elections gets formally underway on March 11, 2004, the date from which the 24 parties vying for popular support are legally permitted to begin public campaign activities.
In an effort to encourage national unity and preserve the peaceful atmosphere of Bali, the major parties in Bali have agreed to participate in a combined horse carriage parade to mark the commencement of the campaigning on Thursday, March 11. On that day, a large contingent of carriages or dokar - three for each of the competing political parties and additional dokar for all the candidates seeking election to the Local Parliament (DPD), will form a parade through Denpasar's Renon administrative district to mark the official start of campaign activities.
A Pause for Nyepi
In addition to agreeing to join in the mass parade all the political parties in Bali have also committed to call a four-day truce to campaigning in deference to the observances of the Hindu New Year - Nyepi on March 21. On Thursday, March 18, campaigning in Bali will officially pause to allow the celebration of Melasti, a program of ritual prayers and ceremonies on local beaches. Campaign participants have also agreed to cease their activities again for three days - starting from Saturday, March 20, through Monday, March 22, to accommodate strict observance of Bali's official day of quiet on March 21, 2004.
Campaigning in the first round of electioneering will end on April 4 with all the diverse parties joining together for a final three day of joint campaigning from Thursday, April 1 until the formal end of any electoral promotion the following Sunday before the parliamentary elections set for April 5, 2004.
Starwood Boss Calls for More Promotion
Oliver Bonke Says the Problem is Not Insufficient Security But Insufficient Promotion.
In an interview carried in the March 1, 2004 edition of the Jakarta Post, the Vice-President for Sales and Marketing for Starwood Hotels in the Asia-Pacific region, Mr. Oliver Bonke, shares his views on Indonesia's prospects for tourism in the medium to long term.
Brooke said that Starwood, which operates 10 properties in Indonesia and employees over 3,500 people, experienced an average occupancy of 52% in 2003, a figure they expect to increase to an average 65 to 70 percent in the current year.
Suggesting that the traveling public are beginning to shake off the initial panic of each new crisis, he said that the elections being held in Indonesia will not necessarily have a negative impact on travel patterns, especially with the recent emergence of a large domestic travel sector.
A Lack of Promotion
In his interview, Bonke said he thought "Indonesia could do a better job in promoting to the world what a great destination it is." Commenting on Bali, he said, "when you look at a site like Bali, it lacks nothing in terms of infrastructure and the desire for people to go there, but it may lose its competitive edge in terms of promotion as a tourism destination from a country standpoint."
While avoiding any direct criticism of current promotional efforts, the Starwood executive suggested there may be room for improvement in developing a national tourism promotion campaign that is "well-funded, well-organized and well-promoted."
Security Not the Issue
Bonke pointed out that the world had undergone a fundamental change in recent years, but said his personal experience was that security measures in place at the hotels he has visited in Indonesia exceeds those in place at other hotels around the globe.
Bonke did not necessarily see the new visa on arrival policy as a problem for national tourism. He hoped, however, that some of the revenues generated by the new policy could be channeled to much needed tourism promotion.
Quiet Zone – Bali Celebrates Nyepi March 21
A Day of Absolute Quiet and Empty Streets Will Mark the Start of New Year Cakra 1926.
This year's celebration of Nyepi - a day of absolute quiet and deserted streets enforced island-wide – will take place on Sunday, March 21, 2004.
Nyepi, when translated, means literally Quiet is the religious obligation of every Balinese Hindu to dedicate an entire day to quiet introspection and spiritual cleansing as he or she embarks on a New Year in the Balinese lunar calendar. Starting from approximately 5 a.m. on Sunday, March 21 and continuing until 6 a.m. the following day, Nyepi will be observed by the devout through the abstinence from food and drink, human speech, and even the lighting of fires or lamps. As a result, Bali will resemble a ghost town throughout this period with all businesses and thoroughfares closed. Traditional village security - pecalang will patrol the island permitting the passage of only emergency vehicles and reprimanding neighbors who allow noise or light to be transmitted from their living quarters.
Hotels and Airport Affected
Guests visiting Bali during this unique holiday will be able to view first hand the Mardi Gras like revelry traditionally celebrated with parades and drinks the night before but will then be required to take refuge in their hotels before sunrise on Nyepi, there to remain until the following morning. While major hotels generally permit their guests full use of their various outlets with the understanding that guests will not venture outside the property, special arrangements are made for the hotel's staff to stay overnight at their place of employment with normal traffic between their homes and place of employment impossible on Nyepi day.
Bali's only airport will also shut down during the entire Nyepi period. All flights that would normally embark or disembark passengers in Bali have been cancelled for the approximate 24 hour Nyepi interlude. While in the past transit flights were allowed to land in Bali with the provision that passengers and crew would not be allowed to leave the airport area, Mr. IGM Dhordy, the head of the Bali Airport Authority, recently was quoted in the local press as saying that this year's celebration would also prohibit even those transit flights from landing for fear the noise of arriving and departing aircraft might disturb the island's meditative residents. With the new regulation in effect, Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport would only be available for emergency landings from early March 21 until the dawn of the following day.
Understanding and Socialization
Bali's Governor, Mr. Dewa Made Beratha, has asked all the components of the tourism industry to create a conductive atmosphere for Nyepi Tahun Caka 1926 by sharing the deeper meaning and importance of the mandatory day of silence with visitors and guests who may be affected by local observances.
F-1 Powerboat Championship in Bali
Benoa to Host International Boat Race October 30-31, 2004.
Bali will play host to Indonesia's first international powerboat championships scheduled for October 30-31, 2004. The event, to be held in the southern part of the island at Benoa, is expected to attract 18 international competitors including Luigi Cappelini (Italy), Scott Human (U.S.A.), Francesco Canado (Italy), and Leg Verro (Australia).
The Bali races will form part of the current calendar of the F1 World Championship 2004, with India, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Germany, China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates also acting as hosts for different legs of the overall championship.
Total cost of hosting the Bali event, sanctioned by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), is estimated at US$ 2 million.
Although no Indonesian contestants are registered to compete, the race comes to Bali by virtue of an Indonesian promoter, Mr. Steve Indrajaya, who holds licenses for the UIM event in China.
Local promoters of the event expect the race to
be broadcast on 14 international television channels,
including the ESPN sports network.