BALI UPDATE #403 - 31
- Variations on a Familiar Theme
Editorial: New U.S.
and Australian Travel Warnings Offer Nothing Dramatically
Heightened travel warnings for Indonesia issued
in the past weeks by the Governments of the United
States and Australia are more reflective of growing
unpopularity of the U.S. war on terror than they
are of any specific threat of a terrorist attack
Worldwide criticism of the mistreatment of those
detained by U.S. forces in Iraq and Guantanamo;
mounting casualties in Iraq - suffered by both
the occupying forces and civilians in that Country;
and a scathing report issued last week by Amnesty
International critical of the U.S. war
on terror - are all converging to make the
U.S. and its allies fearful of the consequences
of continuing bad press and diminishing international
These fears – not entirely ungrounded – are further
fueled by the recent kidnapping and gruesome beheading
of an American citizen in Iraq and suspicions
that other elements exists in other locales eager
to pay back wrongs – real and imagined
– visited by the West on the Middle East.
No New Problem
The United State's Ambassador to Indonesia, Ralph
Boyce, was quoted in the English-language Jakarta
Post last week saying that the new advisories,
"are mainly updated simply to reflect the changing
situation. It's not because there is a new warning
or some kind of a new problem." In the same report,
the Ambassador was quoted as adding, "Much of
this discussion about new warnings or issuing
a new announcement is actually overstated."
Are Americans and Australians traveling to Bali
at greater risk to terrorist attack than, say,
if they stayed at home? Our view is that in the
"new normal" of today no place can claim to be
completely safe from a terror attack. In fact,
projections carried out by terrorism experts have
ranked both the U.S.A., U.K. and Australia as
countries more likely to suffer a major terrorist
strike than Indonesia.
Having tasted the bitter tragedy of terror, Bali
wishes such pain on no people but knows from direct
experience that terror is a fact of modern life.
If you choose to live your life in fear you have
two options: feel at risk at home or feel at risk
on holiday in another locale. In either case,
the terrorist have won. If, on the other hand,
you chose to continue to lead life on your own
terms, you will continue to travel, practicing
the modicum of caution and good sense that should
accompanying anyone be he or she back home an
armchair or soaking up the sun on a distant tropical
It is our view that much of the recent heightened
concern among potential travelers from Australia
was fed less by any official government travel
warnings and more by just broadcast television
reports containing filmed interviews with the
Bali bombers now sitting on death row in the Island's
As proven during their televised trials, the Bali
bombing brothers were never camera-shy
- always ready to provide sound bites of shouted
bravado to an ever-eager press corps.
Thus, the terminally-fated Amrozi found himself
in his element last week when the Australian media
allowed him and his ill-fated brothers to stare
into the camera lense, snarl and vow revenge on
Prime Minister Howard, President Bush, Colin Powel,
and Tony Blair. Little has changed: such was the
quality of the tormented minds that drove them
to murder in October 2002 and resulted in their
permanent alienation, both emotionally and spiritually,
from the overwhelming majority of their fellow
Now, pitiful and caged, Amrozi, Muklas and Samudra
sustain themselves on such mindless hate while
awaiting their fate at the business-end
of an Indonesian firing squad.
The world should not forget that the Bali bombers
have been roundly condemned for their acts, not
only by Judges of our Courts, but by the leading
Islamic organization of Indonesia and the Indonesian
general public as well. There are no demonstrators
to be found outside the prison wall at Kerobokan
demanding their release.
Let us also remember that Bali's proven effectiveness
in investigating the terrorist attack on October
2002, the rapid arrest of more than 30 perpetrators,
their subsequent trials and convictions are the
envy of police agencies and jurists around the
In the new normal of the post 9-11 world,
there are few guarantees and perhaps even fewer
things of which anyone can be certain. The next
terror attack, if it comes, can happen anywhere.
Those who contemplate such butchery, however,
have the certain knowledge of what awaits them
at the hands of Indonesia's criminal justice system
should they plan such an attack here.
Perhaps that fact alone should earn Bali the respect
and trust of potential visitors.
Bali's Tourism School
to be Closed?
STP Halt Intake of New Students in Anticipation
of Eventual Closure.
Bali's much-respected Tourism Academy - Sekolah
Tinggi Pariwisata (STP) - has been ordered
by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to halt
the intake of new students for the academic year
2004/2005. The order, in the form of a facsimile
sent to the Academy's Director, advised that the
step was being taken while awaiting the implementing
measures of a law passed in 2003 which will eventually
close the STP and change the status of
the Campus, making it into a training institute
solely for the use of training government employees.
Established in 1978, STP has graduated
nearly 10,000 students in its three areas of study:
tourism, tour and travel, and hotels. Employing
104 teachers, seats for each new intake of students
are hotly contested as graduates generally achieve
full-time employment in the national tourism industry
or at hotels and cruise ships operating outside
The Indonesian-language Bali Post, in its
Friday, May 28, 2004, edition, reported that Mr.
I Made Sudjana, Director of the STP, is
appealing to the Government to be allowed to continue
the process already in motion for the acceptance
of students for the next school year. According
to Sudjana, his appeal is based on discussions
among the school's management and the Student
Senate who feel STP's reputation is at
stake if those who have applied to attend the
school are suddenly turned away. He also told
the paper that he fears potential public unrest
because of the sudden decision. The Director is
also appealing to Bali's Governor and the Provincial
Parliament for support to keep the tourism school
The 2003 law which will change the function of
the campus to a civil servant training institute
will also cause the closure of similar tourism
academies in Bandung (West Java) and Makassar
More information: STP
Christmas is an Island
Weekly Flights Between
Bali and Christmas Island. Special Package Prices
Including Flights and Accommodation on Christmas
Island Until July 31.
Commencing June 5, 2004, Austasia Airlines
will be operating a Boeing 737-400 weekly flight
service between Bali and Australia's Christmas
Located just 360 kilometers south of Indonesia's
island of Java, Christmas Island is a short 1
hour 45 minute flight from Bali. The new air service
will fly every Saturday, leaving Bali at 1510
hours and landing in Christmas Island at 1555
hours local time. The northbound flight leave
Christmas Island at 1635 hours, landing in Bali
at 1920 hours.
A Very Special Island
Christmas Island is a jewel in the Indian Ocean
offering relaxation and the ideal holiday for
nature lovers. 63% of the island's 135 square
kilometers is designated National Park and the
island is home to unique flora and fauna that
have developed in relative isolation and are found
nowhere else in the world.
Situated in one of the deepest Oceans, divers
can explore miles of underwater walls – rich in
fish and coral species. The island's waters are
also home to a large number of spinner dolphins
and are frequently visited by mammoth whale sharks,
who, despite the ferocity implied by their name,
are harmless and happy companions to divers and
snorkelers they encounter swimming near the island.
As you might expect, the waters surrounding Christmas
island are a fisherman's or fisherwoman's dream.
One of Nature's most unusual phenomena is the
yearly migration of the more than 100 million
land crabs who make Christmas Island their home.
Present on the island the year round, these gigantic
crabs annually migrate en masse
plateau to the island's shoreline in a ritual
of breeding and spawning. Like a scene from a
Hollywood "B" horror movie, the paved roads of
the island literally disappear for days beneath
a seemingly endless carpet of marching crabs.
For obvious reasons, shoes are recommended when
the crabs are on the move and a golf ball claimed
by a amorous crab incurs no penalty shot on the
Island's popular golf course.
Special Introductory Package Prices Through
To celebrate the new flight connections between
Bali and Christmas Island, special 7 night packages
including round trip flights from US$ 517 are
available. The island has a wide range of accommodation
options to suite every taste and budget.
Space at hotels and on the aircraft are limited.
Follow the link to obtain on-line information
and make reservations.
to Weaken Against the Greenback
Shifts in Rupiah's
Value May Bring Windall to Tourism Sector.
According to financial experts, the weakening
in the value of the Indonesian Rupiah against
the U.S. Dollar appears likely to continue for
at least the next few months due to global concerns
over impending hikes in the U.S. interest rate
and excess liquidity in the Indonesian banking
On May 29, 2004, the Rupiah hit an eighteen month
low against the U.S. dollar at Rp. 9,290 per dollar,
weakening almost Rp. 1,000 from its rate just
four months before in January of this year.
Domestic Tourism to Increase
The Rupiah's downturn may form the basis for an
increase in domestic tourism to Bali as Indonesians
may now find it too expensive to travel abroad.
Current official estimates are that as many as
two million Indonesians take overseas holidays
every year. Faced with a more expensive dollar
and a weakened Rupiah, these travelers may now
choose to holiday closer to home.
As a result of this development, local tour operators
are expected to launch domestic holiday packages
in order to cover the shortfall in sales from
diminished sales of overseas holidays.
Domestic holiday-makers to Bali will be aided
somewhat by the fact that many hotels maintain
a tiered rate structure, pricing hotel rooms in
U.S. Dollars for foreign visitors while maintaining
a separate Rupiah-based rate for Indonesian nationals.
Hotels Set to Benefit
Meanwhile, hotel operators will accrue a financial
advantage for the Rupiah's continuing decline.
Hotels catering primarily to overseas markets
will continue to earn dollars while paying major
parts of the operating costs - such as energy
and salaries, in weakened Rupiahs.
Bali Industry Gathers
To Farewell John Forsyth
Icon of Bali Tourism
Hands the Reigns of San Michele Travel to its
New Owner, Ian Norris.
A large group of hotel and tourism figures in
Bali gathered at the Bali International
Lawn Bowls Club on Friday, May 28, 2004,
to bid farewell to John Forsyth, a well-know tourism
icon in Bali and the founder of the Australian
travel wholesaler San Michele Travel.
78 years young, John worked the crowd of long
time friends and associates more like an aspiring
politician than a man contemplating retirement.
Enjoying the party and the people, John paused
to play a tune on the Club's Grand Piano and,
later, sang an Indonesian song with the Keroncong
Orchestra providing the evening's entertainment.
Aileen, John's wife and former co-owner of San
Michele, was prevented from attending
the soiree; staying home in Sydney to be
in attendance of the birth of a grandchild.
John and Aileen recently sold the company to former
Garuda Orient Holidays executive
Ian Norris who, together with his wife, Denise,
are planning to build on the long success achieved
by the previous husband-wife team.
Retiring – either as a verb or as an adjective
- is a word seldom used in connection with John
Forsyth. Accordingly, his current plans are to
lend assistance to Ian and Denise in the changeover
period while focusing on recently launched house-boat
company running off Queensland's coast.
Seeking a Local Share of the Visa Fees
Bali's Provincial and Regional Legislators Call for a Local Share of Fees Collected in the Visa-on-Arrival Process.
Regional and provincial legislators from the Badung and Bali representative assemblies continue to call on the Central Government in Jakarta to share some of the revenues collected from tourists paying under the visa-on-arrival scheme introduced on February 1, 2004.
Indonesian administrative procedures generally
provide for a "share" of any national tax
collected on a local level to remain with the
locality. This, however, has not been the case
in the collection of fess for the visa-on-arrival
process with the Central Government maintaining
the visa fee is not a tax, arguing this fact releases
them from any obligation to share this wealth
with local municipalities.
In response, local legislators are demanding a share of the fees on the basis that the subject fees are collected because of Bali's allure as a destination. They also argue tourism is Bali's main industry and therefore most likely to suffer economic setbacks because of the visa fee's implementation.
The local legislators have also renewed their call for an evaluation of the impact of the visa fee and an improvement in the level of service in the collection process.
Recent reports from the airport confirm that the former three-step process of immigration has been simplified, lessening the waiting time for arriving passengers to Bali.
Bali by the BITE
New Bali-based Tourism and Travel Magazine Launched.
BITE – Bali International Travel and Entertainment - a new magazine for visitors to Bali was launched with its inaugural May/June issue.
The 52-page, full color first edition carries a wide range of articles, including features on sports options for visitors to Bali, hotel dining, wine review, a calendar of local events and a general guide to transportation.
Intended to be a ready-reference for Bali travelers, BITE is full of useful numbers and addresses needed by short time visitors to Bali.
BITE is being distributed via Bali hotels and tour operators involved in promoting Bali worldwide.
Rolling Into Town
Master Cuban Cigar Roller Creates Habanas at Cocktail Evening Hosted by Cigars & Cigars.
On Saturday evening, May 29, 2004, the Cigars & Cigars outlet at the Kuta Poleng Complex hosted a cigar-making demonstration cum cocktail reception for local cigar aficionados.
Canapes, premium wines, champagne and Macallan Single Highland Malt Whiskey were served to guests as they watched Cuban Master Cigar Roller Sr. Lazaro Collazo Rodriguez ply his skill.
Lazaro Collazo Rodriguez
Born in Havana in 1975, Sr. Rodriguez graduated in English in 1994 and then decided to pursue his passion for cigar making at the world-famous Partagas Factory. Quickly rising up the ranks he was declared a Master Roller in 1998 and made Head of the Rolling Room at Partagas in 2001.
Lazaros specialty is making the premier cigars of Partagas: Pyramids, Salomons and Diademas.
He has demonstrated the skill of Cuban cigar rolling in various countries around the world and is traveling next week to Bangkok on the next leg of his world tour.
Cigars & Cigars
Cigars & Cigars is the exclusive distributor of fine Havana Cigar brands in Bali.
Umbul Umbul Festival
A Global Celebration of Balinese Flags August 27-29, 2004.
Reminiscent of Bali's distinctive bamboo and woven-palm penjors, the Balinese umbul-umbul are the distinctive vertical flags furled from bamboo poles that encircle temples during local festivals proclaiming the presence of god at an event. On another level, the umbul-umbuls that soar skyward to a tapered apex that invariably droops back towards earth symbolizes the need for the great and powerful to always remember to have humility and respect for harmony between nature and man. To paraphase a popular Indonesian axiom: Man must be like a stalk of ripening rice, the more bountiful its head of grain the more the stalk bends from the weight of its bounty.
To celebrate the umbul-umbul and all that it represents, on August 27-29, 2004 the Arti Foundation of Bali, in cooperation with the Rainbow Project from Switzerland, will hold Bali's first Umbul Umbul Festival. Aiming to inspire the world with the colors and the message of the umbul-umbul, Bali's Umbul-Umbul Festival will host three days of fun-filled activities open to the public. Activities will be concentrated in the Puputan Badung Memorial Park in downtown Denpasar and the Sanur Village community.
The centerpiece of the Festival will be an exhibition of umbul-umbuls at the Puputan Park on August 27 and 28. Hundreds of umbul-umbuls from around the world will be on display for public viewing. Arranged in the shape of a sacred lotus, traditional Balinese umbul-umbuls will dominate the center, surrounded by four successive circles of umbul-umbuls originating from the Rainbow Project reflecting the colors of the rainbow; umbul-umbuls created by school children from around the world; umbul-umbals created by invited artists; and the outermost circle comprised of umbul-umbuls made by contestants vying for prizes.
On the second day of the Festival, the Puputan Park will come alive with cultural ceremonies including live concerts, dance, and poetry recitals. A series of seminars discussing art, nature and spirituality will also be held.
On the morning of the third day, August 29, a massive procession of umbul-umbul will depart the Park accompanied by musicians and the public concluding on Sanur Beach where the banners will be installed for a final day of viewing.
The founder of the event, The Arti Foundation, is a Balinese organization dedicated to the conservation and development of the Balinese performing arts, seeking to preserve cultural heritage while remaining connected to global creativity. Led by respected Balinese composer Kadek Suardana, the Foundation produces and promotes a number of local events that promote the arts and foster international friendship.
Rainbow Project - the co-producers of the Festival – was founded in 1989 in Switzerland where the first international Umbul-Umbul Festival was held.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available to interested businesses and organizations.
A Jogging Track for Sanur's Beachfront?
City Government Announces Plans to Clear Land for a Beach-side Boardwalk in Sanur.
Mertasari Beach on Sanur's shoreline will soon have a boardwalk if the Municipal Government has its way. Plans were recently announced for the demolition of 83 permanent structures and approximately 150 temporary structures to clear the way for the construction of a beach side pedestrian walkway.
The City Government has allocated a limited amount of money for the project – Rp. 322 million (approximately US$ 33,900), to be used in demolishing the structures and preparing the area for the walkway's construction. Apparently no part of the designated funds have been set aside as compensation for those to be displaced by the project.
When exactly the demolition of the structures
will commence remains unclear with the Local Government
stating they are currently in the socialization
stage of the project – selling the idea of
the boardwalk to the local community.
Who Said Talk is Cheap?
Jakarta Seminar Says Indonesia's Telephone Rates Among the World's Most Expensive.
Indonesian international telephone tariff for a three minute call average US$ 2.5 dollars, a rate second only to Chile which charges US$ 3 dollars.
As reported in the Indonesian-language daily Kompas, a seminar was held in Jakarta on Monday, May 17, 2004, where experts from the University of Indonesia discussed the topic "Indonesia's Readiness for Competition in Telecommunications."
Sponsored by the Commission to Supervise Business Competition (KPPU), the featured speakers were Faisal Basri, an economist from the University of Indonesia, and Muhammad Iqbal, a member of the KPPU.
According to Faisal, the cost of making an international telephone call is lower in neighboring countries. Singapore and Malaysia, for example, charge less than US$ 1 for a three-minute call, while Korea charges US$ 2. The economist went on to outline the many benefits to national productivity and exports that accrue from a low-cost telecommunications regime.
The Reasons for the High Indonesian Phone Tarrif
Faisal complained that the argument always offered in support of higher telephone tariffs by telecommunication authorities in Indonesia was the need to raise funds for the installation of more fixed lines for the public and the need to meet payments for universal service obligations - the fees due to overseas operators. The reality, he argued, is that additional fixed lines are not being installed, supplanted instead by the cheaper flexi phone system - a mobile telephone system not requiring fixed line technology.
Adding insult to injury, according to the economist, is the question of what use was put to the 30% increase in telephone tariff introduced in 2001 and 2002, followed by yet another 25-28.21% increase introduced on April 1, 2004.
To resolve the problem and ensure Indonesia remains competitive in services and technology in the telecommunication sectors, Faisal recommends that those operating the telephone systems must be separated from those who manage the telecommunications infrastructure's backbone.
Muhammad Iqbal, the KPPU official speaking at
the seminar said the lack of an effective referee
has alienated the public interest in favor of
the telephone operating company. As a result,
of the 12 cases of unfair and unhealthy competition
handled by the KPPU, 11 of these were cases involving
the telecommunications sector.
Arief Wibawa Heads Sales at The Patra Bali
Hyatt Veteran Moves to Newly Renovated Luxury Resort in South Kuta.
After an 8 year career with Hyatt Corporation the last 3 of which were with the Grand Hyatt in Bali as Sales Manager, Arief Wibawa has accepted a new challenge as the Director of Sales for the recently re-launched The Patra Bali Resort & Villa.
A tourism professional with broad experience in agency and hotel sales, Arief's employment at The Patra is emblematic of that properties new emphasis on sales and marketing.
Prior to starting is career with Hyatt, Arief worked for periods with Vaya Tours and The Papadayan in Bandung, West Java.
In his new assignement he is responsible for sales at The Patra which has 228 rooms – 59 of which are suites offering 24-hour butler service.