"Having been a writer and publisher of travel guidebooks and magazines myself in the (distant) past, I really admire Jack's disciplin to sacrifice each and every weekend to send out the BALI UPDATE the next Monday!"
Respected Local Political Figure and Tourism Pioneer Dies of Cancer.
I Ketut Robin, the former Denpasar Vice-Mayor and a man with strong ties to Bali's Tourism Community, died on Friday, May 19, 2006 at the age of 67.
A graduate of Mahasaraswati University, Ketut Robin entered politics late in life after a very successful career in tourism. The founder of Trio Bali Tours, he played an active role in the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA). A member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), Ketut Robin represented Bali in the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR-RI) and as Vice-Mayor of Denpasar from 200-2003.
Such was Bapak Ketut's love of the City that he relentlessly lobbied his colleagues in the local tourism industry to include and promote Denpasar City Tours ion the tours offered to visitors to Bali.
A life long resident of downtown Denpasar, Ketut Robin passed away surrounded by his family at his home in Banjar Gemeh after a long battle with cancer. A ritual bathing nyiramin of Ketut Robin’s remains is scheduled for Saturday, May 28, 2006 with the cremation the following day.
Bali Villa Association Established
New Association Calls on Bali's Government to Clarify Regulatory Requirements for Commercial Villa Operations.
At a special party held on Friday, May 19, 2006, the Bali Villa Association (BVA) was formally launched as a division of the Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI).
The first Chairman of the BVA, Ismoyo S, Soemarlan, told the Indonesian-language Bisnis Bali that the establishment of the new organization will help ease current steps to undertake a census of all villas operating in Bali by helping its members process the necessary operating permits and process the payment of taxes in connection with their villa operations. Soemarlan, who serves simultaneously as both the new association's Chairman and as one of the Vice-Chairmen of the PHRI, said villa operators in Bali do not generally wish to operate illegally but are thwarted in their efforts to become "legal" when confronted by a myriad of confusing and unclear regulations.
Soemarlan estimates that there are approximately 1,000 villa operating in Bali, the majority of which are operating without licenses. Because of this, the BVA, in cooperation with the Government and PHRI, are undertaking steps to inventory the villas and provide guidance to its members to fulfil regulatory requirements on licensing.
The Chairman of the PHRI-Bali, Ir. Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, has called on villas to enhance their management, particularly in the installation of security systems for the protection of villa guests.
The founders of the BVA are quick to assure that the organization will not add to the problem of villa owners and is there to assist in the registration and legalization of commercial villas in Bali. Only fully legal villas will be admitted to membership while those villas falling short of the minimum legal requirements will be assisted in the application and fulfilment process.
The BVA has called on the Provincial Government to clarify the rules and regulations affecting villa operations in Bali.
Illegal Levies Destroying Tourism's Image
Head of Guide Association Call on Tours Companies and the Public to Report Illegal Guide Fees Being Charged at Pura Besakih.
Illegal levies charged by tour guides on duty at Bali's famous Mother Temple of Besakih are ruining the image of Bali tourism. That's the opinion of the Chairman of the Bali Guide Association (HPI), Drs. I Made Sukadana, as reported in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Bali.
According to Sukadana, the coercion by "special guides" currently being practiced at Pura Besakih must be stopped by educating the perpetrators, formal reprimands, and even revoking their guide licenses.
Labelling extortion by guides as unethical and a violation if the tour guide's code of practice, the HPI Chairman said guides should receive only the payment of fees established by the tour company contracting their services and by the tourism attraction. The payment of additional tips or gratuities by visitors must be completely voluntary and given for excellent service during the course of a tour
Acknowledging the presence of illegal levies at Pura Besakih, Sukadana called on travel agents and tourists to make formal complaints whenever they encounter illegal levies during visits to Pura Besakih.
Fees charged at Bali tourist objects, including Pura Besakih, are based on fees agreed by HPI, the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA), and the Government Tourism Service.
GWK Dispute Nearing Settlement?
Agreement May Clear the Way for Planned 2008 Completion of Garuda Wisnu Kencana Monument.
A prolonged struggle between two Indonesian companies seeking management control of the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park appears to becoming to a peaceful end with the announcement that PT Garuda Adimarta Indonesia (GAIN) and PT Bukit Indah Ungasan (BIU) are preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding ending the dispute.
As reported in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Bali, Putu Suindia, President Director of BIU, stated on May 18th that "in the coming week we will draft the clause settling the dispute over the management of GWK." According to Suindia, GAIN has acknowledged the rights of BIU with both parties resolving to work together to held realize the GWK project.
Blaming the past dispute on miscommunication, Suindia added, "we have agreed to put aside past mistakes and begin a new chapter (in our relationship)." Both GAIN and BIU have agreed to withdraw all police complaints made over the past 10 months.
While the actual terms of the settlement have not been made public, both parties have reportedly resolved to move ahead with plans to complete the GWK statue and cultural park. Started in 1994, an estimated 15% of the 250 hectare project and planned 146 meter high monument has been completed.
Meanwhile the President Director of GAIN, Nengah Nukerta, said he hope that news reports that were not conducive to the new cooperation would cease. "We hope that the monument which will become the pride of Bali is quickly completed," said Nukerta.
The GWK’s centrepiece will be a colossal monument standing 146 meters high and some 286 meters above sea level. With a foundation structure the equivalent of a 16-storey building, the total statue is estimated to eventually weigh 2,000 tons when completed and will resemble the imagery of the Hindu epic hero Lord Wisnu sitting stop the back of the mythical Garuda bird. The wing span of the Garuda bird will be an impressive 60 meters.
The 250 hectare project will include the monument plaza, an international trade and promotion center, landscaped gardens, a festival and water park, a 5,000 person capacity convention center, a resort complex, and a residential complex.
Bali Welcomes Australian and New Zealand Agents
Bali Turns Out in Force to Welcome Garuda's 'Faces of Indonesia' Mega Familiarization Tour.
One of the largest travel agent promotions to "Bali and Beyond" in recent memory received an enthusiastic receptions in Bali when the local hospitality industry turned out in force to welcome the "Faces of Indonesia" familiarization tour.
The trip was jointly staged by Garuda Indonesia and Garuda Orient Holidays to give 150 top producing travel agents from Australia and New Zealand the opportunity to see for themselves the wealth of positive developments taking place in Bali - and the opportunity to extend their Indonesian travel experience through specially planned "beyond Bali" itineraries covering other destinations such as Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Jakarta and Lombok.
"The timing was just perfect," said Suranto Yitnopawiro, Regional Manager for Garuda Indonesia South West Pacific. "The industry was eagerly seeking to refute negative headlines Down Under and bursting with pride to showcase its latest product. Hoteliers have responded to adversity positively by increasing the diversity, quality of their product."
"Everyone who participated saw for themselves that Bali and Beyond offers brilliant value," said Suranto, with the mega familiarization program including stays at 28 different hotels, meals hosted at 88 different properties, and five major functions with more than 100 guests, including the grand gala dinner hosted at the luxurious Conrad Bali Resort & Spa by the Bali Hotel Association.
The successful visit to Indonesia by Australian and New Zealand travel agents will be followed by a series of high-profile consumer travel writer trips and celebrity visits to help publicize the positive developments in Bali and Beyond and to encourage people to visit Indonesia on holiday.
2006 Bali MICE Guide Expands Distribution
Bali Guide to Conferences, Meetings, and Incentives Now Being Distributed.
Bali MICE Guide 2006 - the 4th edition of the Island's only comprehensive handbook for meeting, conference, exhibition and incentive planners is now being distributed to a premium mailing list of 11,000 travel professionals in over 80 countries worldwide. Reflecting the unprecedented demand for the guide, the direct mailing of the guide has doubled since its debut in 2002. Thousands of additional copies of the Guide are distributed at major international travel and meeting shows.
Distributed to only qualified professionals in the meeting and conference industry, emerging source markets such India and China have been targeted in the guide's most recent increase in circulation, though all markets are getting increased deliveries. Europe will get more than 4000 copies, while Asian distribution has been enhanced through cooperation with American Express.
"A great partner and a true friend of Bali," comments Malcolm Scott, the Bali MICE Initiative project leader in describing American Express' distribution of a special signature version of the Bali MICE Guide 2006 to corporate executives in Asia and Indonesia.
Garuda and Orient Holidays are partnering with Bali MICE in greatly expanding distribution in the vital Australian market.
An entirely private sector initiative, Bali MICE Guide 2006 is an 180-page full-color handbook featuring detailed information on venues and hotels in Bali and Lombok. The publication is complemented by its own website at [www.micebali.com]
Sudden Replacement of Imam Santoso as Director General of Immigration Leaves Many Wondering if Major Restructuring of Immigration Department Now Underway.
In a possible follow up to his January promise to shake up the Nation's much lamented immigration department, [See: Immigration Department to be Revamped], Indonesia's Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin suddenly "decommissioned" Indonesia's Director General of Immigration, Imam Santoso, on Thursday, May 18, 2006.
Named to act as caretaker Director General until a permanent replacement can be found was Inspector General Marvel Hasudungan Simanguansong.
Quoted in the Indonesian language Media On-Line and Bali Post, Marvel told reporters that he had no information on why Santoso was suddenly replaced, claiming he had only received a letter from the Minister informing him of his new appointment. Prior to his latest promotion Marvel served as Inspector General of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights after working for a number of years as the head of the Justice and Human Right's Ministry Office for East Java.
Iman Santoso's decommissioning comes on the heal of somewhat mysterious failure to attend the installation of the new Secretary for the Directorate General of Immigration on May 5th and recent comments by the Minister that changes in key appointment in the immigration department were imminent.
Questioning the sudden departure of Santoso from him post, the Chairman of Commission III of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), Trimedya Panjaitan announced his intention to question the legal basis of the dismissal during commission hearings scheduled for May 29, 2006. The legislator explained that if Santoso's decommissioning was in connection with the ineffective operations of the Nation's immigration department this was understandable, but at the same time expressed the hope that the dismissal did not reflect a personal conflict between the Minister and the former Director General.
London Swings Like a Gamelan Do!
Lila Cita, London's Balinese Gamelan to Be First UK Group to Perform at Bali Arts Festival.
Lila Cita Gamelan and Lila Bhawa Balinese Dance Troupe have been invited to perform at the 26th Annual Bali Arts Festival to be held June 17 - July 15, 2006.
The London performers will be the first UK group to participate in the Festival and the first foreign group to play the traditional gamelan semar pegulingan at the yearly arts event. Lila Cita and Lila Bhawa are scheduled to perform at the Ksiranawa Theatre of Denpasar's Bali Arts Center at 8.00 pm on July 8th. The following week they'll perform at Geriya Olah Kreativitas Seni GEOKS, in the village of Singapadu.
For their Bali performances the group’s repertoire will consist of traditional dance pieces, including the "welcome dance" Sekar Jagat; the "Bird of Paradise Dance" Cendrawasih; the challenging virtuoso solo Kebyar Duduk; as well as some new pieces specially commissioned for the group. These new compositions include the Jayaprana, by guest artistic director, I Nengah Susila, with choreography by Lila Bhawa's Artistic Director Ni Madé Pujawati; and Bali-Sugriwa with music and choreography by I Wayan Dibia. The Bali appearance will also present the Indonesian premiere of two pieces by British composers: Nye Parry's Lila Cita and Andy Channing's Pig in the Kraton.
Looking for Sponsoring Angels
Getting 25 people from London to Bali is an expensive proposition. The group has put all fees earned in the last year into their "Bali Fund" and are applying for Arts Council and Lottery grants to help cover the costs, but even if these efforts are successful, this will cover only a small portion of the expenses. To cover the deficit the group has also been working with the Indonesian Embassy to make contacts with British businesses and corporations who have interests in Indonesia in the hope of attracting sponsorship both for this and future events.
June 10th and June 16th Performances in London
As part of their fundraising efforts, the group is giving a Gala Benefit Concert in London at the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on June 10 at 7.00 pm (Russell Square Tube). Tickets may be purchased in advance via the email link provided or from members of the group for a minimum donation of £6 (suggested donation £20).
Lila Cita welcomes support from all sponsors, large or small. Donations can be made via the [Lila Cita Website].
Lila Cita will be giving another London concert with the London Symphony Orchestra Community Gamelan at St. Luke's (Old Street) on June 16, at 7.30 p.m..
Asian Trails Bali Help French TV Executives Pay A Rewarding Vusit on a Bali Elementary School.
Approximately 127 employees of Canal+ Canal Sat - the huge French TV broadcasting and film conglomerate, took time out on Thursday, May 18, 2006, to pay a visit on the students of SDN 3 Tunjuk - a grade school in Bali's Tabanan region.
Part of a tour of the local traditional banjar of Beng to experience first-hand how daily life is transacted in Bali, the busy executives paused at the school to watch the children at the their daily lessons and to make a much appreciated donation of writing materials, sports equipments and medical appliances.
Joel Robert, a Director of Canal+ Canal Sat, told the Bali Post that children must always be encouraged to expand their creativity while praising the children of Tunjuk for the warm welcome afforded his group.
Filmed for future presentation on Canal+ Canal Sat, the visit so impressed the media executives that they were reportedly reluctant to leave their new-found friends among the children attending the school.
According to the General Manager of Asian Trails, Ratnasari Harjono, who coordinated the Canal+ Canal Sat visit, a second group from the same company is scheduled to revisit the village and school in late May.
Putting the Brakes on Bali's Tourism Developement
Former Minister of Tourism Joop Ave Suggests Bali Need to Take Steps to Stop Runaway Growth in Tourism Sector.
Quoted in the Indonesian language Bali Post, former Minister of Tourism, Post and Telecommunications Joop Ave says it's time that the incentives given to hotel and tourism infrastructure projects be ended. Speaking at a Bank Indonesia seminar on May 18th , Ave called on the Government to create "disincentives" as Bali has a more than sufficient supply of hotel rooms.
According to Ave, if the hotel sector is allowed to continue to expand in Bali it will do so at the cost of other sectors of society, such as agriculture and culture diminishing the contribution each makes to the Island's natural attractiveness as a world tourism destination. "Incentives (for investment) need to be ended. If needed, disincentives should be introduced as we need no more investment (in hotels)," warned Ave.
The former Minister and widely respected authority on national tourism development cautioned the Provincial government not to be led into wrongly concluding that the way to increase local tax revenues is to allow more hotels to be built. He pointed out how overdevelopment of the tourism sector threatens Bali’s reputation and serves to depress prices which, in fact, reduces tax revenues.
Time for Definite Action
Joop Ave sounded the warning that "now" is the time for professional management of Bali's tourism industry to avoid a "boomerang effect" in the coming years. Calling for diversification of Bali's over-dependence on tourism, Ave pointed to the vast unexplored potential of agriculture and flower cultivation, citing just two examples of many areas warranting coordinated support from the Governemnt for future economic development.
Bali Bouncing Back: Part II
Bali by the Numbers: A Closer Look at Bali Arrivals Through April 2006 on a Market by Market Basis.
As reported on balidiscovery.com [Bali Bouncing Back], Bali's tourism industry is showing strong signs of a fast-paced recovery with April 2006 foreign arrivals only -10.65% behind arrivals in April 2005. Although still below par, April's figures are a vast improvement over the post bombing month of November 2005 when business was down -43.26%.
• Japan - Recent recovery trips by Bali tourism officials to Japan have borne fruit with April 2006 month-on-month arrivals down -25.57%, a significant improvement from November 2005 when arrivals slumped a crippling -61.23%. At current comeback rates look for Japanese arrivals to be back on an even keel by August-September 2006.
• Australia - Bombings, drug trials and political squabbles over Papuan refugees continue to take their toll on Bali's arrivals from Australia. Bali's second largest inbound market was still down -45.74% in April 2006, only marginally improved from November 2005 when arrivals from that market to Bali were down -54.80%.
• Taiwan - Back with a vengeance, the Taiwanese figures from April were up +51.4% against April 2005. Taiwan's recovery represents a tremendous turn-around considering that Taiwan figures were down -62.83% in November 2005, the month immediately following the Bali bombing.
• ASEAN - Indonesia nine near neighbors who, together with Indonesia, form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), contributed 10,958 visitors to Bali in April 2006. That total is down -8.36% from April 2005, but, again, much improved from the -61.16% decline in November 2005.
• The Americas - The relatively long-staying and high-spending market from North and South America was still down -19.04% in April 2006, but showing a strong trend for improvement when compared to December when arrivals sagged -32.86%.
• Europe - April 2006 arrivals from the European market demonstrated full recovery, improving 1.9% over April 2005 arrivals. A resilient lot, the European market dipped a relatively modest -13.42% in November 2005 following the October bombing.
Bali 3D, 360 Degree Panoramas of Bali. Warning: These Images Might Make You Dizzy!
Balidiscovery.com wishes to thank Michelle Bienias of [vrmag.org] for providing materials for this article.
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Dutchman Bert Vierstra's love for his adopted home is reflected in the images of landscape, family, culture and people of the Bali on his blog-style website, [Bali 3D]
Homesick for Bali
Bert Vierstra explained: "When I first came to Bali, about six years ago, I was totally knocked off my feet by the island," adding, "I never knew the meaning of the word 'homesick' until I landed in Amsterdam after my first holiday on Bali; I almost felt physical pain."
Vierstra, who only recently got involved with Virtual Reality (VR) photography, doesn't have a specific "program" in mind for his Bali website, preferring instead to shoot when the mood and location inspires him. As such, the dozens of panoramas found on Bali 3D presents 360 degree insights into "off the beaten track" locales in Bali, including shots taken at the home of his Balinese in-laws or that of his wife's 117 year old grandfather caught taking a nap. Back on the main tracks, there's are shots of Bali Galleria, a shopping mall complete with an artificial sky and a Balinese temple.
Views of Bali are organized in terms of geographic location with images available in three formats: medium-resolution full screen QTVR, high-resolution full screen QTVR, and high-resolution full screen Shockwave.
Warning: You'll need a fast broadband connection to download Bert's files, but once they're loaded take your mouse and zoom around the picture of Bert's in-laws taking a mid-day nap, enjoying what must be akin to a house flies daily perspective. [See: Grandparents Napping]
South Kuta Beach
Bali's well know Kuta Beach was one of the first places encountered by Vierstra when he first landed on Bali. "I was overwhelmed by the beach hawkers, and I wondered what this island really was about," he writes on his website, before explaining the turbulent history of the area and its rapid growth from a small village in the 1970s in the 1980s and its current dubious honor of a "tourist ghetto" in the first decade of a new millennium. Be careful, searching around this image can bring on a quick case of vertigo.[See: Relaxed Kuta Beach
Large effigies of monsters, called Ogoh Ogoh and made from bamboo, Papier Mâchè and other materials, often symbolize the many evil spirits Balinese believe one can encounter. On the day before the celebration of the Balinese New Year, Nyepi, these monsters are carried around Bali’s villages and finally burned as a way of exorcising evil." [See: Ogoh Ogoh ]
Kampung Bugis, Singaraja, North Bali
In North Bali there is an area called Kampung Bugis comprised of fishing families descended from South Sulawesi. According to Bert: "The atmosphere in this part of Singaraja is quiet and friendly. The people seem very poor, the streets and houses are small and colorful. You find many, many jukungs (small fishing boats) on the shore." [See: A Catch of Tuna]
While Bert Vierstra obviously is enchanted with Bali's natural beauty and splendor, he is also concerned that tourism is taking its toll with the commercialization of the local culture. Bert, who also runs [The Bali Expatriate Forums] says: "The dynamics of all influences and changes on Bali, the strong Hindu culture, the beautiful landscapes but also the pollution, make Bali a very interesting environment for doing Virtual Reality (VR)photography. If I could, I would do VR on Bali everyday for the rest of my life."