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BALI UPDATE #431 - 13 December 2004

Strength in Numbers
Bali by the Numbers: Detailed Breakdown on Foreign Tourist Arrivals by Nationality from balidiscovery.com.

A detailed breakdown of direct foreign arrivals to Bali by residency shows that Bali set a new record of 1,222,278 foreign visitors during the first ten months of 2004 – a new all-time record for the island and arguable proof that the island has largely managed to shake off the lingering effects of the 2002 bomb attack.

Quantity Purchased at the Cost of Quality

And while there is much to rejoice over in the latest arrival figures, there are other conclusions that can be drawn by a closer look at the numbers.

• Overall arrivals improved a dramatic 49.98% during the first 10 months of 2004, as compared to the same period in 2003.

• Bali's growth in arrivals is overwhelmingly from Asia-Pacific source countries meaning that while aggregate numbers may be growing, Bali may actually be experiencing a shortfall in tourist nights as long-staying, high-spending European and American visitors are being displaced by shorter stays by less free-spending Asian travelers.

• The top four tourist generating markets for Bali are all in the Asia-Pacific region ranked, in order of importance, as Japan, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea. Potentially concerning and suggesting a future vulnerability due to an overall lack of market diversity, these same four countries constitute 59.7% of all Bali's foreign arrivals.

• Bali has once again resumed its position as Australia's most preferred overseas destination, setting unequalled new totals in Bali visitors at 229,310 visitors for the January-October period, up 107.26% from just a year before.

• Japanese visitors are showing a strong re-emergence, improving 86.79% for the year, although still slightly behind totals for 2001.

• Malaysia – demonstrating the old adage that "it's all about air access" – now dominates ASEAN arrivals to Bali, growing a staggering 227% since 2001.

• The America's – perhaps still dissuaded by negative travel warnings and visa fees – is undergoing a sluggish recovery. North and South American visitors improved 36.11% for the first ten months of 2004, but still lags 30.86% behind the same period in 2001.

• Similarly, Europe is staging a somewhat lethargic come back in Bali's arrivals, up 27.49% from just a year before, but still 19.76% behind totals achieved in 2001.




Superman is Dead
Is it a Man? Is it a Bird? No, It's Bali's Hottest Local Rock Group Preparing to Leap Onto International Recroding Charts.

On an island where local rock groups come and go with little notice and even less fanfare, 3 Balinese musicians are on the cusp-edge of becoming overnight sensations - even if it's taken 10 years to get there.

With a musical repertoire built on a common love of punk rock and rockabilly styles, Superman is Dead - also known as SID - has always had a strong focus on "going international," determined to prove that a talented local group of musicians has every right to think globally. In their decade of music making and with 4 recordings in which over 70% of their recorded songs are sung in English, SID has acquired a huge Indonesian following and an international fan base in the U.S.A., Germany, U.K., Sweden and Australia.

The Hangover Decade

Based on their strong cult following after three albums with the local underground Indie Label, the group's much-awaited latest album "The Hangover Decade" - produced with Sony Music Corporation, is likely to mark the critical next step towards international stardom for SID.

Enourmously Blessed with musical talent, the Group writes its own music and lyrics. Bobby Cool is the vocalist and lead guitarist of SID; bass lines are definitively laid down by guitarist Eka Rock; and the man with the distinctive spiked hair-do Jerinx plays drums.

With an estimated 200,000 legal copies and at least four time that number in pirated editions of their first Sony album "Kuta Rock City" in circulation – that CD qualified for double platinum status in Indonesia's seminal recording industry. Riding this wave of recognition, SID also received MTV Indonesia and AMI's "Best New Artist of the Year" awards.

The Group's latest album - "The Hangover Decade" symbolically launched throughout Indonesia via a premiere at Hard Rock Café in Bali on December 10, 2004, has been eagerly awaited by SID's die-hard fans and national music industry executives. Shortly after the Bali launch of their new album, the Band is scheduled to appear at Soundrenaline - Indonesia's biggest rock concert of the year in Jakarta. Meanwhile, discussions are underway to finalize a nation-wide concert tour.

All in all, 2005 is shaping up to be a very eventful year for these three talented Balinese rock musicians.

Superman is Dead - likely to soon become a household name and a Balinese musical export to the world.


Nyoman Arnawa Mr. Musclemania 2004
Bali Bodybuilder Wins Prestigious International Body Competition in California.

First held in 1991 and arguably bodybuilding's leading worldwide competition, Muscelmania 13th annual meet was help November 19-20, 2004 at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel, next door to Disneyland. Televised around the globe by ESPN International, DSF Germany, Sky Sport Britain and Star Sport Asia - the event is the premier show-down for natural bodybuilders.

Nyoman Arnawa - Simply the Best

Despite the increasingly competitive field at each successive year that Musclemania is held, Bali's very own native-son Nyoman Arnawa has won top honor in the Professional Bodybuilder's category at this year's event. In winning the competition, Nyoman's has further secured Bali's reputation as a center for bodybuilding excellence, with Bali champions now having claimed the top spot in 3 out of 13 years of Musclemania's history. Prior to Arnawa's 2004 victory, Bali's bodybuilding superstar Ade Rai won top honors in 1995 and 2000.

In the 2004 intensely-fought competition, Nyoman Arnawa secured the top honors for the day beating a group comprised of the world's top 9 bodybuilders for, in the words of the officials, displaying his "flawless symmetry and muscle mass."

Nyoman, who celebrates his 29th birthday on December 13, 2004, nearly missed this year's competition, his appearance only made possible through last-minute contributions by Kuta-area businesses who underwrote the cost of his appearance. Fanatically dedicated to his sport, Arnawa exercises from early morning till night when preparing to compete, sustaining his championship physique on a low carbohydrate diet comprised of 3.5 kilograms of meat each day.



Awair Flies Again
After More than 2.5 Year Grounding, Awair Back as a Low-Cost Carrier.

Early December 2004 saw the Indonesian domestic carrier Awair resume limited scheduled services, after a suspension in operations lasting for more than 2.5 years. Originally launched in June 2000, a financially troubled Awair closed shop in March 2002 before relauncging itself with new investors during the first week of December 2004.

Dormant for more nearly 30 months and facing the imminent threat of having its operating license revoked by the Indonesian Government if it didn't start fly again, Awair has resumed scheduled flights to two domestic destinations from a Jakarta base: Medan (Sumatra) and Balikpapan (Kalimantan).

New Capitalization

Awair's resurrection was made possible through the introduction of a new investor, Malaysia-based discount carrier Air Asia who now own 49% of the Indonesian airline.

Taking a page out the Air Asia game book, Awair is offering discount fares on flights of nearly 3 hours duration on flights between Jakarta and Medan starting from Rp. 88,000 (approximately US$9.75) and Jakarta – Balikpapan from Rp. 99,000 (approximately US$11.00).



Doubling Tourism's Promotion Budget
Parliamentarians' Support Sought to Fund Efforts to Increase Chinese and Middle Eastern Tourism Visitors.

Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik is asking Parliament to double the tourism promotion budget from Rp. 90 billion (approximately US$10 million) to Rp. 180 billion (approximately US$20 million).

According to Minister Wacik, if the additional funding wins legislative approval it will be used to increase tourism visits from under-performing Middle Eastern and Chinese markets.

Somewhat surprising to local tourism circles is what appears to be the Government's view that the European and U.S. markets are sufficiently "matured" and are operating at optimal levels, and therefore require minimal promotional support. Bali's arrival statistics, however, suggest that both European and American arrivals, while improving over time, are still lagging badly behind arrival totals from these markets achieved only 4-5 years ago.

Minister Wacik has projected for current tourism arrivals to double by 2009, reaching 10 million visitors and generating US$10 billion in foreign exchange earnings.

Alfred Tonkiss Dies in London
Highly Respected Professional Will Be Missed by Many in Asia's Travel Industry.

balidiscovery.com has learned of the death of Alfred Tonkiss in the U.K. on Friday, December 10, 2004.

Mr. Tonkiss, the CEO of The OneAsia Travel Group, based in Bangkok, is credited with establishing the six-company association of pan-Asian destination management companies.

A travel profession with decades of experience in the industry, prior to his last appointment in Bangkok Mr. Tonkiss held senior positions in Indonesia with the Panorama Group and PACTO.

Much loved and respected by both colleagues and competitors, Alfred Tonkiss will be sorely missed by his many friends in Bali.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Tonkiss' widow, Samantha, and Alfred's family in both Thailand and the United Kingdom.

Alfred Tonkiss was 65 years old.


The Sinking Dollar
The Greenback's Downward Spiral Makes Bali a Very Affordable Destination for Many Visitors.

The rapid decline in the value of the U.S. Dollar against the Euro, Japanese Yen and Pound Sterling may have the unexpected result of making travel to Bali a bargain for most foreign visitors.

Bali – A Dollar Tied Economy

Because the Indonesian Rupiah is technically a "non-exportable" currency and not widely traded on international currency markets, Bali's tourism economy is largely dollar based.

Hotels and travel websites such as balidiscovery.com quote prices in U.S. dollars – meaning American will find that Bali, unlike other overseas destinations, remains a country where the buying power of the greenback has not diminished. Meanwhile, Europeans, Britains, and Japanese travelers will discover their money buys more than ever before in Bali.

The Euro is now trading at around $1.33, an increase of 60% from its low in October 2000 and up from $1.20 just two months ago.

The Japanese Yen is trading at a four year low of ¥102 to the dollar and the British point is yielding $1.94 – a level not seen since 1992.

The current foreign exchange environment means that Bali is one of the few overseas destinations that remains affordable for U.S. tourists while representing a real bargain to travelers from most other countries.



Clemency Appeal Filed on Behalf of Bali Bombers
Bali Courts Request for Clemency Mandated by Law to Clear Way for Eventual Execution by Firing Squad.

Formal requests have been filed by Bali prosecutors seeking clemency for convicted Bali bombers Amrozi and Iman Sumudra, now under a sentence of death for their role in the tragic bombing of a Bali night spot.

Indonesian law requires that before the sentence of death can be carried out, every possible course of appeal must be exhausted including a request for Presidential clemency.

According to a spokesman for the Denpasar District Court, local Prosecutors filed the request for Presidnetial clemency when lawyers for Amrozi and Sumudra failed to file such a request on behalf of their clients before the expiration of a November 3 deadline.

If, as widely expected, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono refuses the request for mercy the final administrative obstacle will have been cleared on the way to death before a firing squad for the two convicted bombers.

Ali Ghufron, the brother of Amrozi, and the third Bali bomber under sentence of death has already filed a formal appeal against his death sentence.



Crackdown on Begging
Police Ask Public's Help in Reducing Curbside Begging.

On Thursday, December 9, 2004, Bali's tourism police conducted raids at a number of major intersections in the Kuta and Tuban area, apprehending 31 road-side beggars, mostly children.

Many of those detained by the police reportedly hailed from the village on Munti Gunung near Karangasem in East Bali, one of the island's most economically depressed areas.

Police authorities described many of those caught in the sweep as professional beggars, who have been rounded up by police and returned to their home village time and again by the authorities only to reappear on Kuta's street corners a short time later.

The indigents detained in the raids were given guidance by the police and representatives of the local social welfare office before being returned to their home villages.

Police have asked for the assistance of the public and relevant government agencies to discourage begging on Bali's streets and busy intersections.


Fuel Prices Expected to Increase 40% in 2005
Government Mulls Strategies to Ease the Economic Pain of Higher Energy Costs.

Unable to sustain the massive budget burden of subsidizing consumer fuel costs, it now is all but a foregone conclusion that Indonesian fuel prices will rise by as much as 40% sometime in 2005. While fuel costs have traditionally been subsidized in Indonesia, recent steep increases in the world market price of crude oil have created a gargantuan burden for the cash-strapped national treasury. Current crude oil prices of around $40 a barrell and subsidized consumer energy costs could result in a added US$6 billion cost to national coffers, if left unaddressed.

Something Has to Give

While it is expected that increases in the cost of premium, diesel oil and industrial fuel will rise sometime soon in 2005, the Government may leave kerosene prices unchanged to safeguard the tenuous position of the nation's poorest.

Meanwhile, the Government is actively seeking input from legislators and others on the least socially disruptive means of increasing fuel costs. A number of scenarios are under review including allowing local fuel prices to freely follow world cruise oil prices or, alternatively, retaining a program of partial subsidies. Experts in some circles have issued cautionary warnings that a sudden increase in fuel costs could result in supply chain problems and the hoarding of critical fuel supplies.




Getting Serious About Tourism
President Yudhoyono To Convene Ministerial Roundtable in Bali Dedicated Solely to Tourism Issues.

In long-overdue recognition of the potential major contribution that tourism can make to national development, President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono has announced his intention to convene a special cabinet-level meeting focused solely on issues related to culture and tourism January 14-15, 2005, in Bali.

The meeting, involving members of the Cabinet whose department impact tourism, will be held at the historic Tampaksiring Presidential Retreat built in the hills of Central Bali by Indonesia's first president, Soekarno.

By calling together those charged with administrating tourism, immigration, transportation, and infrastructure policies the President is reportedly hoping to identify specific strategic steps to be taken help Indonesia double the size of total tourism revenues before the end of his current five-year term of office.



Mark Griffith Moves to Singapore Assignment
Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort Manager Accepts Singapore Position with Beaufort Hotels.

After nearly 14 years with the Meridien Brand, Mark Griffiths has resigned his position as General Manager of the Le Meridien Nirwana Golf & Spa Resort to accept the same post with The Sentosa Resort & Spa in Singapore.

Manager of Meridien property in Bali since April 2000, Mark first joined the Group in 1990 working at the Picadilly Meridien in London before moving on to assignments in Corporate Headquarters in Paris and with their properties in Phuket, Thailand.

During Mark's tenure in Bali, Le Meridien Nirwana earned various awards and accolades, including being named among Asia's Best Leisure Hotels in a Condι Nast Readers' Choice Survey and the Best Golf Course in Asia by Asia Golfing Monthly Magazine.


 
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