Interview: Michael Burchett, Chairman of the Bali Hotel Association
Balidiscovery.com Talks to the Chairman of BHA in 2007 – an Association Representing Nearly 75 Bali Hotels and 22,000 Guest Rooms.
On December 18, 2006, the Bali Hotel Association (BHA) met to re-elect Michael Burchett, General Manager for the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa as its Chairman for 2007.
balidiscovery.com caught up with Michael over the busy Christmas and New Year's holiday period for the following interview.
The Interview – Michael Burchett, Chairman of the Bali Hotel Association
balidiscovery.com:What was BHA's focus in 2006?
Burchett: In 2006 we focused our efforts on supporting BTB (Bali Tourism Board) and the Recovery Program. Unfortunately this was a frustrating time due to the bureaucratic delays created by the Ministry of Tourism, and poor communication with in BTB. In a time when quick action was required, unfortunately little happened until late in 2006. The initial coordination got off to a good start with the Perth Travel Show in February followed by ITB. Besides support received for several key events, other efforts slowed and became mired in red tape.
Finally, Bali's tourism industry spoke with "one voice" and the "Bali is my Life" campaign was created by IMM, who were appointed by the Ministry.
Up to today, the only official accounting for the IDR67 billion allocated by the President to support Bali's recovery, has been the IDR15 billion accounted for under the "Bali is my Life" program.
Our hope is that the final review of the Recovery Program will highlight some positive learning's for the future, as 2007 will also require close coordination and cooperation between Government and private sector.
balidiscovery.com:What is BHA's role in the tourism sector?
Burchett: BHA currently represents 75 member hotels, comprised of the 4 & 5 star hotels and the majority of other key properties operating in the international market. BHA has evolved into a significant voice for the tourism industry, and we take that responsibility seriously, and intend to continue using our influence to support Bali's tourism sector. We are associated with PHRI (the Indonesian Hotel & Restaurant Association), and also in regard to BTB, we work closely with ASITA (Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents) & PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) and the other stakeholders.
In December 2005, BHA along with other tourism stakeholders supported the Resolution presented by UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) to focus on one body to represent Bali Tourism. At that time it was agreed that BTB would be that body; however significant restructuring of the current make up of BTB was and is required. This will remain a key focus for BHA in 2007, as we convinced, as supported by UNWTO's advice, that this is the way forward for Bali to maintain its position as a preferred holiday & MICE (meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition) destination.
Besides this important lobbyist function, BHA is active in all areas of marketing Bali on behalf of our members. BHA is also active in many social and community programs, representing and supporting our members in important areas such as environment, community affairs, education and training.
BHA has also positioned itself as a catalyst for change in the area of Security. Since the incident in October 2005, BHA sponsored an assessment of security in Bali and developed a plan to extend our member's responsibilities outside of our own boundaries and into the community. The corner stone for this program is the creation of Tourism Zones, which provide a safe and secure environment for the community and tourists visiting these zones. BHA provides support for this initiative through coordination with the Community, Police, Military and Bali Government. This program will continue to be a major focus for 2007.
balidiscovery.com:How can BHA influence Bali's tourism efforts in 2007?
Burchett: Because of our strong and active membership, BHA has a responsibility to encourage the Ministry of Tourism, BTA (Bali Tourism Authority), BTB and other tourism stakeholders to work together to market Bali in the most effective manner for the benefit of the entire Bali community. We feel the best way to achieve this will be through one coordinating body shared both financially and directionally by Government and Private sector. We hope that the proposed restructuring of BTB will provide this opportunity.
The key to success for the "new" BTB will be the hiring of professionals to manage Bali's marketing efforts. The elected Board should represent the industry as a whole, and include Government representation, and most importantly the board should play a role as "advisors" and not get involved in the day to day management of BTB; this must be left to professionals in the areas of marketing, public relations, communications and sales.
The "new" BTB needs to be supported by BTA and the Ministry of Tourism, who must become more transparent and keep the industry informed of their plans, well in advance, and involve the industry in their planning process through listening to the tourism industry's ideas and recommendations.
balidiscovery.com:What is BHA's forecast for 2007?I
Burchett: Good news, if we can all work together to market Bali and continue improving safety and security.
We must present a clear image of Bali to the international community, and highlight the efforts that have been and continue to be made to strengthen the safety and security measures already in place. Communication is important - the world is a different place since 2001, and particularly the incidents in Bali in 2002 & 2005; and we need to present a realistic picture of Bali.
Unfortunately some international communities have an unrealistic view of Bali, different to how they perceive other parts of the world - all we are asking is to be treated fairly; however we need to generate the reasons for fairness.
The last quarter of 2006 has shown some positive indications of what we can expect in 2007. All we need is a "clear run" without incident, or if there is, then to ensure that our response is coordinated and managed professionally.
In 2006 we experienced volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, health, safety & security issues - we have become the experts in managing "disasters"!!
2007 will be a great year for Bali if we speak with one voice - "Bali is my life" is supported fully by BHA and presents an image of Bali to the world that speaks volumes. We hope it will not be diluted by individual efforts, and that the restructuring of BTB will provide the focus for our members and Bali's tourism stakeholders to move forward.
Bali Hotel Association Elects New Board for 2007
Pro-Active Bali Hoteliers Elect Board and Assign Areas of Responsibility Among its Members for 2007.
At the Annual General Meeting of the Bali Hotel Association (BHA) held at the Nikko Bali Resort & Spa on Monday, December 18, 2006, the new members of the board were elected for 2007.
Those leading the BHA in 2007 will be:
▪ Michael Burchett, General Manager of the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa, was re-elected to serve as Chairman.
▪ Hadi Taryoto, General Manager of the Bali Rani Hotel, was re-elected to Vice-Chairman.
▪ Ronnie Ranti, General Manager of the Grand Istana Rama Hotel, returns to the Board to oversee Government Relations
▪ Jorge Monje, General Manager of the Melia Benoa, will serve the board, handling the Association’s finances.
▪ Urs Klee, General Manager of the Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel, will remain on the Board, responsible for environmental matters.
▪ Liv Gussing, General Manager of the Amandari Resort, will continue to coordinate the BHA’s community affairs projects
▪ Robert Lagerway, General Manager of the Bvlgari Resort, joins the Board to coordinate the BHA’s education and training activities, including a scholarship program now in its third year of operations.
▪ Jan Bundgaard, General Manager of the Westin Resort Nusa Dua, will be in charge of the BHA's marketing activities. He will be supported by six General Managers from Bali Hotels, each assigned a specific geographical area.
▪ David Wilson, General Manager of the Ritz Carlton Bali Resort and Spa, will head the BHA’s security committee. He will be supported by six General Managers, each with a specific sub-district of Bali as his or her responsibility.
Bali Hotel Association
Bali Hotels Association is a professional group of star rated hotels and resorts in Bali. Members include general managers from more than 74 hotels and resorts, representing more than 13,887 hotel rooms and nearly 21,998 employees in the Bali hotel sector.
Sharp Rise in Bali Drug Arrests in 2006
Police Statistics Show More Dealers Getting Busted in Bali.
Interim data from the Bali Police show a dramatic increase in the number of narcotics-related arrests in Bali in 2006 with greater emphasis on catching drug dealers operating in Bali.
Data through the end of November 2006 show Bali Police have handled 519 drug-related cases in 2006, up +14.56% from the total cases handled in 2005 and a dramatic +74.16% more than the number of cases in 2004.
Arresting More Drug Dealers
In 2006, a total of 309 drug dealers were apprehended, up +89.57% from 2005(163) and +602.27% more drug dealers than were apprehended in 2004(44).
Recreational users of illegal drugs would be wrong to conclude, however, that the Bali police are relaxing their enforcement for simple use of drugs. Statistics released by the police indicate that arrests of "users" are keeping largely apace with previous years.
Police report that during 2006 they seized 784.85 grams of heroin, 11.58 kilograms of marijuana, 222.5 grams of hashish, 104.6 grams of cocaine, 13 codeine pills, and 352.06 grams of raw crystal meth and 1,655 tablets of the same substance.
Foreigners Still a Small Portion of Total Arrests
Through the first 11 months of 2006 the police arrested 417 males in narcotics-related cases of which only 21(5%) were foreigners. Of the 135 females busted for illegal drugs in 2006, only 5 (3.7%) were foreigners.
Giving Credit to Bali as a Conference Destination
100 Delegates from 10 Countries Expected in Bali for ACSIC Conference November 5-8, 2007.
Bali will act as host to a conference on extending financial credits to small and medium sized businesses scheduled to take place in Bali in November 5-8, 2007.
The 20th Asian Credit Supplementation Institution Confederation Conference (ACSIC) will draw some 100 delegates from 10 countries including Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea and India.
The declared theme of the November 2007 meeting will be "how ACSIC members can contribute to fostering small & medium-sized enterprises."
Acting as the host committee for the Bali conference are two Indonesian credits companies - PT Askrindo Perum Sarana Pengembangan Usaha and PT Penjaminan Kredit Pengusaha Indonesia..
Organizers of the Bali conference have expressed the wish that those attending will create a Bali Declaration that will support expanding the availability of credit to small and medium sized enterprises and acknowledges the ability of that sector of the economy to create employment and reduce unemployment.
The decision to hold the 20th ACSIC meeting in Bali was reached at the 19th ACSIC conference held in Kuala Lumpur November 19-22, 2006.
Two Moderate Earthquakes Off Bali's Coasts
Earthquakes in the Oceans to the North and South of Bali, Occurring only 5 days Apart, Cause No Damage to the Island.
In a period of less than one week, two moderate earthquakes struck in near proximity to Bali's coasts, one to the Island's north and the other to the south.
The first seismic event happened at 4:01 p.m. local time on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2006. Measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale, the quake hit off Bali’s north coast, 255 kilometers northeast of Denpasar. Sourced to a depth of 524.1 kilometers below sea level the quake was felt along the northeast shore of Bali, causing more panic than physical damage. Local press reported that two pregnant women miscarried shortly after the quake.
The second quake occurred on Friday, December 29, 2006 at 2:26 p.m. local time. Measuring a magnitude of 5.1 the quake was centered 140 kilometers South-Southwest of Denpasar at a depth of 45.1 kilometers. The quake went largely unnoticed in Bali.
Neither earthquake was large enough to produce a tidal wave.
Located near the a number of major geological fault lines, moderate earthquakes are a frequent occurrence in Bali.
The Difference Between Self-Interest and Selfishness
Editorial: While Bali Hotels and Villas Continue to Suffer from a Lack of Visitors the Government Continues to Resist Air Carriers Seeking Greater Access to Bali.
As a rule of thumb, travelers prefer direct flights to their holiday destinations. Barring that, their overwhelming preference is to arrive at their destination using only one airline with a minimum of intermediate stops. Similarly, on the short-to-medium haul routes from the increasingly import Asia-Pacific markets holidaymakers insist on the quickest and most-direct route to Bali, particularly when a stay on the island is for only for a very short 4 or 5 nights.
On a recent Bali "road show" to the People's Republic of China, led by the Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA), Al Purwa, the familiar explanation of "more air access" was the standard response when the Balinese delegation ask what could be done to tap into the huge pool of outbound travel from China. Also during the China trip, proven partners in developing Bali tourism, such as Singapore Airlines (SIA), renewed their pledge to support to Bali in helping to grow Bali-bound traffic via their world-wide network, including mainland China.
No Open Skies to Bali
Despite the ready solutions of Chinese tourists eager to visit Bali and an airline able to carry them, SIA's long-standing request for more seat capacity to Bali by increasing from three to four the number of daily connecting flights from Singapore has failed to gain the necessary approval from Indonesia's Department of Civil Aviation. The standard reason given for this refusal: Indonesia will not embrace an open skies policies, choosing (instead) to "protect the interest of their national carrier."
It's High Time for a Radical Rethink on Air Access to Bali
With Bali hotels and tourism operators desperate for business and a National Carrier more concerned with financial survival than fleet or route expansion, the current government position on air access to Bali makes very little sense. While everyone in Bali fervently prays that Garuda will one day successfully re-invent itself into becoming a major player in the international airline game, Bali can ill-afford the the luxury of waiting and staking its future economic viability on protecting the traffic rights for a national carrier that is both unlikely and unable to exercise its current reciprocal traffic rights so jealously protected by the Government.
With airlines, like SIA, standing in the wings ready to add more flights to Bali and undertake the additional promotion necessary to fill those seats, the wisest road ahead in the best interest of all tourism players is simple: grant those requests for more seats and, while we're at it, hire a brass band to welcome the sorely needed additional passengers at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport.
One of the first lessons taught in travel marketing is that each room unsold and every seat in a bus unfilled represent revenues and valuable foreign exchange forever lost. Those unrealized revenues are needed today in Bali to pay staffs, service loans and keep the next generation of Balinese in school.
The reasons for Garuda's current unhappy financial state are many and complex. Some of the Airline's woes – such as higher fuel costs and reduced demands from certain markets, are beyond its control. Other problems, however, such as artificially inflated debt burdens and inefficient management practice, are self-imposed and will take months, or even years, to resolve.
In the meantime, Bali has an urgent need to fill its hotel rooms and keep its tourism industry running at the highest possible levels. In order for this to happen, everything must be done to increase passenger flows from every conceiveable market, by every possible means.
Loosening the stranglehold on air traffic rights to Bali is in everyone's interest. Increasing passenger inflows from a variety of markets means Bali's economy will get back on even-keel sooner; creating a healthier, wider diversification of markets. At the same time, grabbing these growing markets now will preserve and develop a sustainable market share that might otherwise go to competing tourism destinations in the region. And, finally, because air traffic rights are regularly reviewed by participating governments, Indonesia will still have the future option at its disposal of adjusting its air access policies when an Indonesian carrier is better positioned to service those markets.
PATA Travel Mart in Bali September 25-28, 2007
1,500 Top Decision Makers from the World Travel Industry Expected in Bali for Leading Travel Event of the Asia-Pacific Region.
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart 2007 to be held in Bali September 25-28, 2007 is expected to attract 1,500 top sellers and buyers of travel from around the world.
Headquartered at the Bali International Convention Center (BICC) in Nusa Dua, the leading event on the Asia-Pacific travel industry calendar moves to a new host destination each year. The 2006 PATA Travel Mart was held in Hong Kong, while the 2008 PATA Travel Mart will move on to India after the 2007 event in Bali.
PATA Marts bring together the managers and sales staff of the leading hotels, attractions and tourism objects in the Asia-Pacific region with decision makers from top travel wholesalers, group organizers, and other travel product distributors for a series of intensive business appointments spread across the 3-day event.
For more information on how to participate as a buyer or seller at the Bali PATA Travel Mart 2007 follow the link to the PATA Website.
Paying Proper Attention to Bali's Domestic Visitor
Minister Wacik Cautions Bali Tourism Industry Not to Ignore the Needs and Importance of Domestic Visitors.
Jero Wacik, Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, warned local hotels in Bali do what is necessary to eliminate any differences in service standards extended to domestic tourists as opposed to foreign visitors to their properties.
The Minister, speaking at the Tri Hita Kirana Tourism Awards and quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Bali, said, "many hotels in Bali still provide different standards of service to domestic and foreign visitors." Urging the elimination of such practices, the Minister said good relations with the domestic market in Bali must be preserved.
Reminding the Bali tourism industry that domestic visitors have proven themselves to be the Island's salvation during difficult economic periods, Minister Wacik said the domestic market has the potential of filling all hotels in Bali. Moreover, domestic tourists are more immune to the over-dramatized fears of terrorism that oftentimes prevent foreign visitors from coming to Bali.
Minister Wacik also told Bisnis Bali how he is actively lobbying with every member of the Presidential Cabinet, urging his fellow ministers to seek out opportunities for Indonesia to act as host for international conferences and exhibitions.
Bali Awards Tri Hita Karana Tourism Awards for 2006
Sixth Annual Tourism Awards Presented by Bali Travel News.
Bali Travel News (BTN) has once again recognized a number of Bali hotels, guest houses, individuals and tourism objects for their leadership role in the Island's travel industry during a special ceremony held on Friday, December 22, 2006 at Tanah Lot in West Bali.
In a ceremony attended by Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik, the Governor of Bali Made Beratha and the Minister of the Environment Rachmat Witoelar the 6th annual presentation of the prestigious award recognized those in the community who strive to work and live by the Tri Hita Kirana benchmarks of harmony between man and fellow man; man and nature; and man and God.
The 2006 winners of the Tri Hita Kirana Awards are:
▪ Gold Award - Tanah Lot
▪ Silver Award - Sangeh
▪ Bronze Award - Taman Ayun
Small Hotels and Guest Houses (Hotel Melati & Pondok Wisata
▪ Gold Award - Waka di Ume Resort
▪ Silver Award - Puri Bagus Candidasa
▪ Bronze Award - Puri Lumbung Cottages
One, Two and Three-Star Hotels
▪ Gold Award - Nusa Lembongan Resort
▪ Silver Award - Rama Candidasa Resort & Spa
▪ Bronze Award - Tandjung Sari Hotel
▪ Gold Award - Alila Ubud
▪ Silver Award - Novotel Benoa Bali
▪ Bronze Award - Candi Beach Cottage.
Five-Star and Five-Star-Plus Hotels
▪ Gold Award - Sofitel Seminyak
▪ Silver Award - Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa
▪ Bronze Award - Nikko Bali Resort & Spa
▪ Gold Award - The Ritz Carlton Bali Resort & Spa
▪ Silver Award - Bali Tropic Resort & Spa
▪ Bronze Award - Ibah Luxury Villas
▪ Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC), Nusa Dua.
▪ Gold Award - Fretty Widya Zahfitri at the Nikko Bali Resort & Spa
▪ Silver Award - Luh Gede Agustini Witari at the White Rose Hotel
▪ Bronze Award - Maria Lisa at the Bali Rani Hotel.
Merpati to Dismiss 500 Employees
Government Cash Injections to be Used, in Part, to Reduce Bloated Staff Rosters.
Government-owned Merpati Nusantara Airlines has declared its intention to dismiss 500 employees early in 2007, once a promised cash injection of Rp. 450 billion (approximately US$49.45 million) is received from the State Treasury.
Quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, the Secretary to the Ministry of State-owned Enterprises (BUMN), Said Didu, confirmed that promised dismissals were part and parcel of the ongoing streamlining and rationalization for both Merpati and its counterpart Garuda Indonesia.
The cash injection, scheduled to occur on December 29, 2006, will be divided in several key areas of the Airline's urgent restructuring. 26% of the Rp. 250 million would be used in productivity-building steps; 40% would be use to service debt; and remainder for the "revitalization" of the company.
According to a Merpati spokesman, the 500 employees to be retrenched would be done on a "voluntary" basis by accelerating the pension period for some of the airline's workers.
The Airline's current payroll is painfully bloated, with 3,100 employees supporting a air fleet of only 24 airplanes serving 120 destinations.
Of the Rp. 450 million in emergency funds coming from State coffers, Rp. 120 million will be dedicated to staff reductions steps, with the remainder for debt retirement and armada renewal.
Robbery at Ubud Hotel Angers Bali's Chief of Police
Korean Woman Hospitalized with Injuries Following Knife Attack by Group of Robbers at Ubud Villa Property.
A vicious robbery and physical attack on a Korean honeymoon couple staying at The Ubud Village Resort occurred on Tuesday, December 26, 2006. According to local press reports, the couple - Lee Jong Tae (36) and Lim Yung Ok (33), surprised 3 robbers in the process of robbing their bungalow who then attacked the couple with traditional swords and blades. The husband, Lee Jong Tae, suffered superficial wounds that were treated in the outpatient department of Bali's General Hospital while his wife, Lim Yung Ok, was severely attacked, requiring blood transfusions and warding in the acute care unit.
A hospital spokesman has indicated that the Korean woman is expected to make a complete recovery and should return home to Korea in a week's time.
In the day following the attack, Korea's Ambassador to Jakarta, Lee Sun-Jun, traveled to Bali in the company of his Embassy's Immigration Attaché and the Chairman of the Korea-Bali Association to meet behind closed doors with Bali's Chief of Police General Paulus Purwoko and the Provincial Governor Made Beratha.
Angered at the brutal and rare physical attack on foreign tourists, General Purwoko issued a deadline of 30-days to the Head of the Precinct in which the Hotel is located, warning stern administrative action if his men fail to make an arrest in the case. The Chief also ordered an intensification of the ongoing safety and security audits being carried out at local hotels, saying he would not hesitate to issue a public "travel warning" for hotels and villas found to be lacking in security preparedness.
Police continue an intensive investigation surrounding the attack and have interviewed no less than 11 witnesses, including staff at the nearby Vila Alam Jiwa where a non-violent robbery occurred one day before the assault on the Koreans.
While petty theft and robberies involving visitors do occur in Bali, robberies involving physical assaults on the victims are very rare, fueling the current community-wide demands for quick action by the police to capture those responsible for injuring the Korean couple.
Shocked and dismayed by the attack, the injured couple have received visits from the Governor, Chief of Police, local Regent, and the Villa's Management - all of whom have extended profound apologies in connection with the assault. The Governor of Bali has underwritten all medical expenses for treating the two while the Regent has agreed to pay the cost of air travel for the return trip to Korea after Lim Yung Ok's discharge from the hospital in Bali.
Earthquake in North Asia Puts Internet and Telecommunications Services in a Tail Spin Across Asia.
A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Taiwan on Wednesday, December 27, 2006, has wreaked havoc on Internet and telecommunications systems stretching from northern Asia to Australia. The quake, which severed international fiber-optic telecommunication cables in Taiwan, has vastly reduced the traffic carrying capacity of Internet Service roviders (ISP) and international long-distance service in the region.
In the days following the quake, Internet users in Bali and the rest of Indonesia found themselves unable to access most overseas websites and the transmission rate for Internet communications agonizingly slow. Indonesian officials estimate that Indonesian telecommunication providers were operating at 17% of their normal capacity. Operators in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysian were also all reporting service impediments in the aftermath of the Taiwanese earthquake.
Indonesian Regulations Impeding Rapid Recovery
Meanwhile, Indonesian regulations limiting the ability of local ISPs to use foreign satellite systems are thwarting efforts to reroute telecommunications traffic over alternative satellite systems.
The Jakarta Post quoted a spokesman for the Department of Communication and Information as saying that government was still considering what steps to take, claiming the Department "needed more time to grasp the urgency of the situation."
Helping to further fuel the growing frustration of local businesses with the government's seeming lack of a "sense of urgency" in dealing with the communications crisis, the Director General of Post and Telecommunications, Basuk Yusuf Iskandar, suggested that Internet users in Indonesia must learn to live with the lack of service urging people "to fast for a month" from their regular diet of electronic communications.
Using off-shore connections, back up systems and other improvisations, balidiscovery.com continues to maintain booking and information services to its clients with only minor disruption.
The links below provide access to the graphical version of the Bali Update.