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Bali News by Bali Update
BALI UPDATE #443 - 07 March 2005

Bali Update Turns 7
March 2, 2005 – The Day Bali Update Turned Seven. Some Notes of Best Wishes From A Few of Our 15,000 Plus Readers World-wide.

Visit our archives at balidiscovery.com and you’ll find all 442 back issues of Bali Update. Started as a simple e-mail to friends and travel industry colleagues in the early, tumultuous days of Indonesia's first steps towards democracy, the newsletter has now become a weekly bulletin sent each Monday to more than 15,000 Subscribers around the world. Here's a few kind notes from friends received by our editor as the Bali Update turns 7!

* * *



Through thick and thin, Bali Update has been an uplifting, forthright and reliable ambassador of Bali tourism. Bali Update has earned the industry's respect by persistently placing the best interests of Bali tourism at the top of its agenda.

Peter de Jong, President and CEO, PATA

Sincere congratulations to the 7th. Anniversary of "Bali Update" to Bali Discovery Tours and Jack Daniels. Continue with the good work!

Peter Rieger, CEO, Balivillas.com/Bali.com Ltd

Time has gone so fast, and now Congratulations on your 7th Anniversary of your Bali Update, Bali Update without Jack will not be the same as the Bali Update as it is known right now. I have known you for more than 30 years, and since then I already have seen that your head is always full of ideas and innovations. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and help Bali to be ever on the news.

Al Purwa, Chairman, PATA Bali & NTB Chapter

Congratulations on the Bali Update's 7th Anniversary. The Bali Update has been and is Bali's best and finest source of news, marketing and promotion. Fair and balanced, it tells it like it is! Others should follow the example.

Keep up the great job, the Bali Update makes me feel still involved with Indonesia's and Bali's tourism.


Jerry Picolla - Picolla International

Happy 7th Birthday Bali Update & Editor-in-Chief Jack Daniels, you have done a tremendously good deed on a weekly basis for one of the world’s greatest destinations and the world’s most beautiful people. I hope you continue to tell it like it is and colour in what other media often try to make just black & white.

Nigel Gaunt, Managing Director, The MINT Organization

Congratulations on seven years of providing insightful updates on Bali through Bali Update. Great stamina! Keep up the great work.

Mimi Hudoyo. Indonesia Senior Correspondent, TTG Asia/TTGmice/BTN Asia Pacific

Our heartiest congratulations on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of Bali Update. . . .Your unique publication fully deserves all our accolades and ardent support.

Tan Chee Chye, PATA Life Member, Managing Director, World Express Group (Singapore)

Congratulations to Bali Update on your 7th. Anniversary. And what years they were! For Indonesia, these were most historic years filled with crises. From the Asian monetary crisis to economic upheavals. This huge Archipelago and its diverse nation changed from an autocracy to a full democracy in the short span of less than a decade. Through inter-ethnic conflicts and terrorist attacks, through the SAR's threat, travel advisories, and the latest earthquake and gigantic Asian tsunami catastrophe at the end of last year, we experienced it all.

But today, we can, thankfully, say, "thank God", we have survived it all, so far. And so has tourism in Bali. In fact Bali has survived, still flying high Indonesia's tourism flag.

Through these most difficult years, Bali Update has never been absent, faithfully reporting tourism news from Bali to the world. Even when news about Indonesia in the international media was most biased and negative, you brought a spark of light and hope that said "do not count us out yet - Bali is still the idyllic destination you knew, despite all negative reports". And indeed, last year's arrival statistics have proven that tourists have returned to Bali in droves.

On your 7th. Anniversary, may I, on behalf of the Indonesia Digest, thank you, Jack Daniels, and all at Bali Update, most sincerely and from the bottom of my heart for your steadfastness and unfailing contribution to the survival of Indonesia's tourism. You and all at Bali Update have proven, indeed, that a Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed.


Tuti Sunario, Editor, Indonesia Digest

My heartiest congratulations on seven years of "telling like it is". Hard to believe it has been seven years since you started Bali Update providing exciting reading and up-to-date, useful information on happenings on your beautiful island. A bumpy road at times, however, the warm and friendly people of Bali have never changed and today they extend their smiley welcome to visitors as they have always done. Keep up the good work. I know I will continue to look for Bali Update every week for years to come. A precious publication indeed. . . Happy Anniversary!

Kurt Bodmer, San Diego, USA.- PATA Life Member

It’s hard to believe that it has been seven years. I remember when, in the midst of Kalimantan forest fires and the erosion of the rupiah, Jack hatched the brilliant idea of a focused, hard hitting and factual e-newsletter. It was the first attempt by anyone in the Indonesia travel and tourism industry to do so and it has proven to be an invaluable tool for Indonesian tourism as it has navigated through some very turbulent years. I imagine that the in the absence of the Bali Update, the landscape of Indonesian tourism would be very different from what it is today. Congratulations!

Peter Semone, Vice President Development, PATA

Congratulations Jack... Hard to believe that it has been 7 years since the first Bali Update!Bali Update continues to be the ONLY regular & consistent voice for news on Bali! Your love for this Island and its people is unquestionable!

Melina Caruso, Director of Marketing, www.bali-paradise.com

CONGRATULATIONS for the 7th year Anniversary of BALI UPDATE - "THE VOICE OF BALI TOURISM"
Wishing you Greater Success in the future Bali Update Issues.


Bagus Sudibya, Chairman, ASITA Bali


The Sounds of Silence
Bali Prepares for a Total Shutdown on the Official Day of Silence March 11, 2005 – Nyepi.

Nyepi literally means Quiet in the Balinese language and is the name given to the day each year when it is he 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 Friday, March 11 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 sternly rebuking neighbors who allow noise or light to be transmitted from their living quarters

Nyepi is the day marking the first day of the Balinese Saka calendar and is strictly observed island-wide with a day of absolute silence and meditation, including the shut down for a 36 hour period of the island's airport.

Hotels and Airport Affected

Guests visiting Bali during this unique holiday will be able to view first hand the Mardi Gras-like celebrations marked with street parades and drinks the night before Nyepi. Before sunrise on March 11, 2005, however, all will be required to take refuge in their hotels or homes before sunrise - there to remain until the following morning. Major hotels generally permit their guests full use of their various outlets with the understanding that guests will not venture outside the property, and 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.

The Government has issued official guidelines on municipal operations during Nyepi.

[See: Government Issues Nyepi Guidelines]

Selamat Hari Raya Nyepi Tahun Baru Caka 1927!

Happy Balinese New Year!



ASEAN Cooperations Takes a Hit!
Following Government's Decision Not to Eliminate the Fiscal Charge, Some ASEAN Tour Operators Threaten Retaliation.

As reported at balidiscovery.com Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik has announced that the Government will renege on its promises to eliminate the Rp. 1 million (approximately US$109) fiscal charge paid by all Indonesian residents traveling abroad. [See Indonesia First]

Unhappy at the sudden change in policy, the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia reports that a number of ASEAN travel Agencies outside of Indonesia are threatening to stop promoting Indonesian tourism as a move of retaliation against the Indonesian Government's decision see as detrimental to efforts to build intra-ASEAN tourism.

Yachya Machmoed, Chairman of the West Java Chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) told the press that "if Indonesian does not want to eliminate the fiscal charge, we think that travel agents in ASEAN – primarily in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore will no longer want to promote Indonesian tour packages."

Citing the long-standing efforts to jointly promote ASEAN tourism and how Indonesia benefits from the markedly higher amounts spent on tourism promotion by other countries in the ASEAN region he added, "if tour operators in neighboring countries refuse to include Indonesian packages in their tour offerings, we (Indonesia) will no longer be able to 'piggy-back' onto their existing promotional efforts."



Air Paradise to Fly Bangkok-Bali?
Three Time A Week Service Proposed From Bangkok to Bali.

TTG Asia a travel industry magazine based in Singapore reports in its February 25, 2005, edition that the Bali-owned carrier Air Paradise International is processing the paperwork necessary for a thrice-weekly service between Bangkok and Bali. The proposed service using 226-seat Airbus 310-300 equipment will reportedly seek to overnight in Bangkok after bring a late afternoon or evening departure from Bali in order to bring back to Bali an early morning departure form Bangkok ferrying passengers who had just arrived on nighttime flights in Bangkok form Europe.

No specific start-up date for the new service was mentioned in the TTG reports.


A Garden of ASEAN Beauties
A Chance to Dine with ASEAN's 9 Most Beautiful Women on Sunday, March 13, 2005.

The ASEAN Business and Advisory Council (ABIS) is launching the inaugural Miss ASEAN Contest this year to stimulate regional solidarity and promote in intra-ASEAN tourism. Nine of the 10 ASEAN countries have selected a young woman deemed to best represent her country to compete in a gala final evening scheduled for Jakarta, March 19, 2005.

As part of the lead-up to the final selection, the nine contestants have participated in a tour of ASEAN member countries to increase their knowledge of ASEAN as a destination and help prepare the young lady finally selected to reign for the coming year become an effective international spokesperson for the Region.

Beauty Comes to Bali

The 9 finalists will come to Bali, March 12 – 14, 2005, to tour the island and participate in a gala dinner at the Sheraton Laguna Nusa Dua Resort - Bali on Sunday evening, March 13, 2005.

Tickets are available for the evening at a cost of Rp. 1,200,000 per person (approximately US$130) inclusive of tax and service. The ticket includes the opportunity to join a table hosted by one of the nine contestants; a four-course dinner; free flow wine, beer, soft drinks and juice; a fashion show; live music and dancing; a lucky draw and a closing fireworks display.

A special guest of honor also attending the Garden Dinner Party will be the reigning Miss Australia – Sarah Davis, who is also that Nation's delegate to the Miss World competition.

The Finalists

The 9 finalists in the Miss ASEAN contest are:

• Miss Brunei — Dayangku Farhana bte Pg Hj Bujang

• Miss Indonesia — Imelda Fransisca

• Miss Malaysia — Joselynn Lee Pek Wan

• Miss Myanmar — Ei Yupar Win

• Miss Philippines — Jhezarie Javier

• Miss Singapore — Mindy Ng Geok Boey

• Miss Thailand — Panisa Chaikanarakkul

• Miss Vietnam — Nguyen Thao Huong

For Tickets and More Information

For tickets and more information call the Sheraton Laguna Nusa Dua Resort – Bali at ++62-(0)361-771327 asking for Yanti (extension #632), Mika (extension #655), or Flo (extension #654).



Aviation Chief Calls for Improved Air Safety
Bali Hosts Global Navigational Satellite System Implementation Meeting.

Delegates from dozens of Asia-Pacific nations attended the Global Navigational Satellite System Implementation Meeting, held in Bali, at the Ramada Bintang Hotel in Kuta, February 21-25, 2005.

The meeting, the seventh gathering of its kind, was held at the initiative of Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC).

As reported in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, the Director General of Air Transportation for the Department of Transportation, Cacuk Suryo Suprio, open the meeting, saying: "Implementation of a global navigational system has long been recommended by international civil aviation organizations. This development is in keeping with the continued developments in air traffic technology and instrumentation."

Need for Improved Safety of Aircraft and Runways

Cacuk stated that the increasing frequency of air accidents in Indonesia, including recent cases of aircraft skidding off runways, is a cause for serious concern by the government. To prevent further accidents, his office has already ordered additional routine checks for aircrafts in accordance with international safety standards, the auditing of aviation companies, and evaluations of airports - especially the condition of the runways.

"We remind operators to be wary of unfriendly weather conditions. All flights are reminded to carefully calculate the impact of the wind and other weather phenomena. The same goes for the conditions on the runway, which must be truly safe for landing," said Cacuk.

No Link Between Low Cost Carriers and Frequent Accidents

When asked if the frequency of recent air accidents in Indonesia had any correlation to the growing presence of low-cost carriers, Cacuk rejected the suggestion outright. He said that the statistics clearly show that frequent accidents have occurred not only in this era of low cost carriers, but also long before, when ticket prices were still priced quite high. Furthermore, he added, the concept of cheap flights is not unique to Indonesia, but prevalent also across America and Europe.

Cacuk insisted that safety can be maintained, and even improved. "In principle," he said, "however cheap the flight, it should never reach the point where we are found lacking on important safety procedures."



Immigration Responds to Japanese Complaints
Chief of Bali's Airport Immigration Office Asks Public's Help in Stopping Illegal Practices by His Staff.

Complaints that Japanese tourists are being victimized at Bali's Airport by Immigration officials who demand funds when finding their visa-on-arrival has not been stamped, were recently leveled in a letter to the Immigration Office by Noburo Nomaru, Japan's Consul General in Bali, and repeated again by members of the Japanese press during a press conference in Osaka, Japan attended by the Chief of the Bali Tourism Authority. Gede Nurjaya.

Returning to Bali on February 21, 2005, Nurjaya raised the complaint, saying "I have no intention of holding anyone to blame, including immigration officials. However, because the complaint is part of a formal complaint by the Japanese Consul General he called on all concerned to provide a formal response."

As reported in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, the Head of Immigration at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport, Mohammad Zaelani, has now sent an official letter to Japanese Consul General suggesting steps to resolve the issue.

Zaelani admitted that his staff may fail to put the mandatory stamp on a visa on arrival whether as a simple oversight or due to the very heavy work loads imposed on them during periods of heavy influx of tourists. According to Zaelani, if a tourist or tour leader discovers an "unchopped" visa, they only have to return to the immigration counter or the head of immigration to request the stamp. "It's not a problem," he said in Tuban, Bali, on February 22, 2005, "They will be given the stamp and will not be subject to any fine."

Firm Action Against Errant Officers Promised

In response to specific complaints of extortion by immigration officials, Zaelani asked the public to make a note of the official's name or description, the time of the occurrence and the amount of money paid and then submitting the report immediately to Head of Immigration at Ngurah Rai. Without detailed information, it is impossible to implicate specific officers. Howver, a clear report will be always be followed up, the Immigration official promised.

Zaelani backed up his promise by assuring the press that those implicated in the incident reported to him by the Japanese Consul are now stern facing punishment and administrative review.



Fuel Prices Increase Sharply
Faced with Crippling Fuel Subsidies Government Increases Domestic Fuel Prices from 22 to 47 Percent.

Confronted by increasing domestic demand for fuel, current fuel prices of US$50 a barrel, and long-standing subsidies costing the Indonesian economy a crippling US$7.9 billion a year – the Government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took the long anticipated step on Tuesday, March 1, 2005, and increased fuel costs from between 22 to 47 percent, depending on the fuel commodity.

Drivers immediately felt the pinch at the gas pump where premium gas jumped 32% to Rp. 2,400 a liter (approximately US$0.26) and diesel fuel for transportation up 27.3% to Rp. 2,100 a liter (approximately US$0.23).

Diesel used for industrial applications increased 33.3% to Rp. 2,200 a liter (approximately US$0.24).

Kerosene for industrial applications was hiked 22.22% - now pegged at Rp. 2200 per liter with fuel oil experiencing the biggest hike of 47.44% - now costing Rp. 2,300 per liter (approximately US$0.25).

Kerosene Exempted

The price of kerosene – a staple fuel in low income households in Indonesia – was exempted from any price increase remaining at Rp. 700 per liter (approximately US$0.08).

With fuel subsidies costing the government an estimated US$22 million every day, the ever-increasing cost of crude oil on world markets were proving an unbearable burden on the Indonesia budget. Economic analysts also pointed out that the subsidy system was rife with corruption and mismanagement causing the Government further losses.

The latest increase has reduced the cost of fuel subsidies borne by the Government to Rp. 110 billion per day (approximately US$12 million).

The substantial savings have been pledged by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to be used on long-neglected social welfare programs, including scholarships, rice subsidies for the hungry, and free medical services for the poor.



Correction: A Shaky Start to 2005
Revised Arrival Figures for January 2005 Show A Much More Buoyant Month for Bali Arrivals Than That Reported Earlier on balidiscovery.com

We're delighted and somewhat relieved to report that the data on which balidiscovery.com reported "A Shaky Start to 2005" in Bali Update #442 were cited in error.

In fact, new and corrected figures indicates a much more positive result in tourist arrivals for the first month of 2005.

Total Arrivals

Total direct foreign arrivals for Bali in January 2005 totaled 101,931 – down just 2% from the 104,062 foreign visitors reported in January 2004.

Asia Pacific

The Asia-Pacific market (total 62,753) dropped 8.3% in January 2005 as compared to the same month a year earlier. As reported earlier, the Australian and Japanese markets largely stayed the course, both marking modest gains in January.

Perhaps frightened off by tsunami fears, both the Taiwanese and South Korean travelers were down dramatically in January. Taiwanese business dropped 52.8 % at 8,116 visitors as opposed to 17,206 in the same month one year before. South Korean visitors declined 21.7% in January 2005 at 5,007, recording 6,396 visitors in January 2004.

ASEAN Arrivals

ASEAN arrivals to Bali (total 7,189) dropped 11.95% in January 2005. Thai and Singaporeans stayed close to home in the month following the tsunami. Singaporean arrivals to Bali in January were down 49.3% totaling in at 1,690 visitors, One year before in January 2004 some 3,333 Singaporean residents called on Bali.

Thai arrivals to Bali dropped 49.7 percent in January 2005 from the same month a year before.

Europe

European travelers increased 17.22% (total 25,916) month-to-month 2005 versus 2004, with strong performances turned in by Russia, the U.K., Switzerland, and Sweden. European arrivals, however, have failed to regain lost momentum still lagging 15% behind January figures achieved in 2001(30,487).

The Americas

Arrivals from the Americas (total 5,505) still continued its slow recovering, improving 11.57% in January 2005 as compared to January 2004. Despite these most recent improvements, visitors from the America's are still 39.2% behind the "boom time" total of 9.058 recorded in 2001.

Considerable Relief

We're happy to be able provide these updated and corrected figures portraying a more upbeat start for the 2005 and apologize for any confusion or dismay that may have resulted from our earlier report based on erroneous data.

Given the enormity of the tsunami disaster in late December, January's performance which almost equaled last year's is remarkable and a cause for considerable optimism for the year ahead.



Abu Bakar Bashir Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison
Jakarta Court Send Aging Cleric to Prison for Committing Conspiracy Against the State.

66-year-old Abu Bakar Bashir was given a sentence of 30 months jail time by a South Jakarta court on Thursday, March 3, 2005, for his role in the tragic Bali bombing of October 2002 that claimed 202 lives.

The judges, handing down a sentence less than the 8 years requested by State Prosecutors, found Bashir guilty of partaking in an "evil conspiracy against the state."

The Yemini-born Indonesian cleric is widely-reported to be the leader of Jemaah Islamiah in Indonesia, an organization with links to the al-Qaeda Network of terrorists. Bashir has steadfastly denied any links to the leadership of either organization. He was re-arrested last year as he left prison following his punishment for the violation of immigration regulations.

Both Bashir's legal team and Bashir himself insist they will appeal the verdict. However, the time required for such an appeal and the period that will be cut from his sentence for "time served" from the time of his arrest to conviction, virtually assure that the Cleric will be released from prison before any appeal process can run its course.

Bashir could be a free man again as soon as late 2006 or early 2007.



See Indonesia First
State Minister of Culture and Tourism Rejects the Elimination of the Rp.1 million Fiscal Fee for Intra-ASEAN Travellers.

As reported in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, State Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik has flatly rejected any plans to eliminate the Rp.1 million fiscal fee (approximately US$109) in connection with travel within the ASEAN region. Wacik made the pronouncement while speaking at a press conference at the Central Bureau for Statistics (BPS) in Jakarta on Tuesday, March 1, 2005, saying the proposed elimination of the fiscal tax would be "bad for Indonesian tourism."

The Minister's statements appear to be a retreat from Government commitments to waive the Rp.1 million fiscal fee charge Indonesian residents travelling abroad planned in cooperation with other ASEAN governments to support the ASEAN Hip Hop Pass (AHHP) program and building intra-Asean tourism markets. The Hip Hop Program offers an intra-ASEAN tourism packet to travellers via discounts at hotels and flights between ASEAN destinations.

When asked by a reporter of the potential effects on Indonesia's relations with other ASEAN member countries by the sudden decision to renege on promises to eliminate the fiscal fee, Wacik responded firmly, "if they are upset with us, so be it. Our priority is to secure our own country."

The Minister did agree, however, that the fiscal fee should be waived for certain circumstances, such as trips by Indonesian artists to other ASEAN countries, or for other humanitarian or cultural purposes.

Revenue from Domestic Tourism at Risk

According to Wacik, the abolition of the fiscal fee, formerly planned for the beginning of March 2005, would actually impede the development of domestic tourism in Indonesia. He believes that with the elimination of the fiscal fee, domestic tourists with limited financial means would choose to travel abroad instead of within Indonesia itself.

The amount of foreign exchange contributed by overseas visitors to Indonesia, according to the Minister is around US$6 billion per year. Meanwhile, income generated from domestic tourism is estimated to reach Rp.100 trillion (approximately US$10.9 billion).


A Tourism-Minded President
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Promises Increased Security; Minister Wacik Calls for a Higher Budget for Tourism Promotion

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently reaffirmed his intention to boost the recovery of tourism to Indonesia. As reported in the Indonesian language newspaper Bisnis Indonesia, the President said he seeks opportunities to promotes tourism at every opportunity during his trips abroad.

Seeing is Believing

The President said, "Whenever I'm abroad and meet with foreign nationals, I always encourage them to visit Bali – seeing is believing!" The President also underlined how at tourism is crucially important to Indonesia's economic recovery.

"Revenue from tourism can help to improve community welfare," he said, reminding everyone that tourism is one of Indonesia's main sources of national revenue, together with taxes, customs, oil and gas resources, and profits from state-owned corporations (BUMN).

The President was speaking during a meeting with traditional religious leaders at Batur Temple in Kintamani, Bali, on Sunday, February 27, 2005. That meeting was one of a series of events held during the course of a 2-day Culture and Tourism Coordinating Meeting head quartered at the Tampak Siring Presidential Palace.

The meeting, the first of its kind on tourism and culture issues lead directly by the President, was attended by a number of ministers, regional governors and tourism stakeholders.

Security a Key Concern for Bali's Tourism Recovery

President Yudhoyono explained that when he goes abroad, he is always asked about Bali, reflecting how strongly the global community feels a kinship with the island. Emphasizing how Bali's tourism sector began to recover after the disastrous impact of the October 12, 2002 terrorist bombing, he repeated his pledge that the government would put maximal efforts towards maintaining security. Adding, "let's not let Bali's security be undermined again, because this will make tourists fearful. Let's keep a focus on security, public facilities, culture, and tourism."

Repeating that security is the key criteria for the success of the local tourism industry, the President said, "I guarantee that foreign tourists will return."

Tourism Minister Recommends Investing More in Tourism Promotion

The Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik stated that the Government would soon issue a Presidential decree that will serves as the basis for a comprehensive law to cover the development of the tourism industry. Wacik emphasized that the development of tourism is not sole job of the Department of Culture and Tourism who cannot succeed in their mission without the support of other departments and agencies.

The Minister used the opportunity to restate his concern that budget for tourism promotion is grossly inadequate. The Minister explained, "right now it's still very low at Rp.90 billion, or about US$18 million. We have recommended it be increased to at least Rp.180 billion."
 
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