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Bali's Police Chief Growing Increasingly Annoyed with Abracadabra Money Changers.
Several months ago, a visitor to a popular local on-line Bali travel forum asked forum members for creative ideas for entertainment at a children's birthday celebration. Several members quickly responded suggesting "clowns" were available in the form of late-night revelers leaving one of Bali's many bars while magicians could be engaged doing slight-of-hand at your nearest money changer.
Unfortunately, the contributors were only half-joking.
In a related vein, the recent arrest of crooked money changers by Kuta Police has received an enthusiastic response from Bali's Chief of Police, Inspector General Paulus Purwoko, who is determined to make such jibes less relevant in the future.
Committed to safeguard both Bali's visitors and the Island's reputation, Chief Purwoko recently told the Indonesian language Nusa Bali that he found dishonest acts by Bali's money changers extremely "annoying." He called on other government agencies and the public to join his officers in bringing recalcitrant money changers to bay.
Among steps planned by Chief Purwoko to help eliminate shenanigans by money changers who short-change their customers is an examination of which government bodies are actually empowered to issued licenses to money changers and brining the license holder to court together with the employee caught cheating customers.
As part of an overall reward and punishment scheme for Bali police officers, Chief Purwoko has promised acknowledgement and rewards for any of his officers demonstrating initiative in curbing crime on the Island.
While Chief Purwoko's men may eventually get rid of the scourge of free-lance magicians working at local money changers, the unpaid clowns found on many Bali's streets in the wee hours may be here to stay.
A Bali Warning: Bring Grandma Along
Indonesia Earns Robert Pelton's 'Vacations with Grandma' Travel Safety Rating.
Robert Young Pelton – the American adventurer, journalist and real-life version of Indian Jones is a man well acquainted with risk. In fact, you could argue he wrote the book on the subject - The World's Most Dangerous Places, a tome widely considered a handbook for anyone living on the geographical edge. The host of a TV series on the Discovery Channel that visited the world most dangerous places for 5 years from 1998 to 2003, he has written a series of books and creates a regular column on issues concerned with living in a dangerous world. He also maintains a an interesting and very unique website at [ComeBackAlive.com].
Is Indonesia Safe?
Pelton website contains a world map that keeps tabs on "dangerous places" – grading every country on a sliding scale from the very safest or "vacation with grandma" to the most dire destinations on earth classed as "could be your last trip."
Here's a sampling of Robert Pelton's view of the world, including a link to his world map of travel safety.
Could be Your Last Trip Destinations
▪ Palestinian Authority
Second Most Dangerous Places to Visit
▪ Sierra Leone
▪ South Africa
Safest Places to Visit or “Vacations with Grandma”
Bali Officials Increasingly Concerned Over Threat of H5N1 Virus.
With Indonesia now holding the unenviable distinction of the highest number of deaths attributed to Avian Influenza or, as it is more commonly known, bird flu, the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), Bagus Sudibya commented to the local press on February 2, 2007, that the much-feared disease has now become a global problem with infections among poultry populations now found in almost every corner of the world.
"What we must not do is panic," cautioned Sudibya, urging all elements of Balinese society to cooperate closely with the various government agencies working to minimize the risk of the disease to Bali's residents and visitors. Sudibya also urged local leaders and politician not to try to make political capital out of the bird flu crisis, leaving experts in the field to make carefully formulated statements and announcements.
Asked is he was worried by the possible threat of bird flu to Bali's tourism industry, Sudibya told Bisnis Bali that while he was concerned, the main point remains Bali's ability to communicate the genuine situation and the preventative steps being taken to the people of the Island and the outside world. Sudibya went on to ask: "Japan – a country with sophisticated technology and preventative systems has not escaped the bird flu. Why is it that arrivals to Japan remain unaffected?"
The answer, explained Sudibya, is found in the Japanese government's serious approach to the bird flu problem and the ability of its PR machine to communicate this fact to the world.
Sudibya told the press that the limited size of the island of Bali and the small number of gateways will assist control measures now being taken, including bio-security steps being introduced among those who keep birds.
Four Seasons to Host 1st Bali International Triathlon
1st Bali International Triathlon on June 24, 2007 to be Headquartered at Award-Winning Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay will act as host-venue for the 1st annual Bali International Triathlon to be held on June 24, 2007. This Olympic distance event will be the first international-caliber triathlon ever held in Bali. A unique race that will combine a challenging course of swimming, cycling and running within the dramatic setting of Bali; the start and finish line for the Triathlon will be at the world-renowned Four Seasons Resort.
The event is expected to attract a large number of spectators from around the world in additional to "corporate challenge" teams from around the region who will run the race in 3 man/woman relays.
On Saturday June 23rd, the day before the race, the Four Season Resort will serve be the meeting venue for a pre-race meeting and a optional unique traditional blessing of the athletes and their bikes on the beach-side Coconut Grove. Later, that same evening, the athletes will return to the romantic beach-side setting for a high carbohydrate Pre-Race Dinner, designed and prepared exclusively for the occasion by the Four Seasons' world-acclaimed chefs.
Four Seasons has also designated one of the Resort's elegant Private Estates as an office and "race-central" for the duration of the event. Located just 50 meters from the beach and the official start of the race, the palatial villa is screened from the outside world by a Balinese wall, flowering shrubs and mature trees.
Working in close cooperation with Bali's Police authorities and members of the local Balinese community, the Four Season's finely-tuned security team will be in charge of the transition area.
Bless this Bike
Spiritualism dominates every aspect of daily life on the Hindu island of Bali and, even in the grounds of international five-star hotels, daily rituals necessitating offerings and prayers take place to secure harmony, balance and protection from evil. To this end, Four Seasons Resort will be arranging a 'Prayasita' bike blessing as well as a 'Majaya Jaya' ceremony to bless and ensure the spiritual protection of all the participants. A 'Pemangku' lay priest will conduct the ceremony, using special offerings including fruit, yellow coconut juice, grains of rice, sandalwood powder and young coconut leaves tied with white thread and Chinese coins.
The Resort will also be providing refreshments, in the form of bottled water and fresh fruit, to the race participants, and while catering for up to 300 VIP guests and spectators with a tantalizing choice of gastronomic delights. The Resort's beach restaurant, PJ's, will be the dedicated seaside venue for the post-event Awards Social Lunch, which will be served between 11 am and 2 pm on June 24th, complete with traditional entertainment presented by a Balinese music ensemble.
Join the Race – Stay at the Four Seasons
In additional to special race packages for triathlon participants and their families, the Four Seasons has generously offered a 3-day, 2-night packages in a One-Bedroom Villa at its Jimbaran Bay Resort to the first athlete to finish the race. Hidden within frangipani-scented gardens on a gentle hillside, enhanced by stunning views of the bay, each of the spacious thatched-roof Balinese villas features a private garden, plunge pool, an open-sided living and dining area, an air-conditioned sleeping pavilion, and a bathing area complete with an oversized soaking bathtub.
The event will comprise a 1.5-kilometre swim in the warm waters of Jimbaran bay; a 40-kilometre bike along paved roads to Nusa Dua, looping back to Jimbaran; and a 10-kilometre mostly-flat run on paved roads through Jimbaran and Kedonganan villages, ending with a beach finish at the Four Seasons Resort Jimbaran Bay.
International Doorways Offers Unique 27-Day Summer Program for High School Students in Bali July 9 – August 27, 2007.
International Doorways - a U.S.-based company offering educational Summers abroad to High School Students is featuring Bali as one of its destinations in 2007. For 27-days, from July 9 – August 27, 2007, a group of lucky high school students will immerse themselves in Indonesian culture in a program combining language study, community service projects, short internships and outdoor adventure.
All programs are carried out under the careful supervision of trained and experienced escorts and educators with substantial background and experience in Balinese culture.
With an emphasis on intensive contact with Balinese society, students will participate in community assistance programs interwoven with a busy program of Balinese language, music, dance, cooking. ceramic pot making lessons, working in rice fields, trekking in the national state park, sailing, surfing, snorkeling and white-water rafting. Along the way the students will visit Kintamani volcano, Tanah Lot. Lombok, attend local ceremonies and performances and engage in a whole range of supervised sporting activities.
Cost of the program is US$4,100 with accommodation provided in small family hotels and bungalows.
Despite the ambitious target, many of Indonesia's tourism leaders polled by the Indonesian language Bisnis Indonesia remain bullish that the 7 million target can be realized, providing the Government stays strongly committed to working closely with the private sector.
Yanti Sukamdani - Indonesian Hotel & Restaurant Association
The Chairwoman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Yanti Sukamdani, was particularly confident, saying the current target can be easily achieved if the government focuses its energies on developing tourism. Sukamdani added: "The tourism industry has long been ready; moreover within the Association (PHRI) we have targeted 6 million visitors. The problem is that last year we only welcomed 4.8 million foreign tourists because the Government still believes that tourism is solely a matter for the Department of Culture and Tourism."
In late January, Indonesia's Vice President publicly urged Indonesian Minister of Culture and Tourism to substantially revise upward his current target of 5.5 million visitors to the 7 million figure.
Sukamdani called on all elements of the Government to cooperate with tourism associations in the packaging, promotion and development of national tourism. "We don't have a tourism promotion board like our neighboring countries, but if the Government prepares programs and cooperative efforts usually undertaken by a tourism board, Indonesia won't be left behind," she reminded.
The PHRI Chief pointed to recent developments in the transportation sector as proof of what can be done if all parties pull together. In 2006, the number of domestic passengers increased 17.24%, reaching 34 million. During the same year, international passengers increased 10.76% ending 2006 at 14.4 million.
Perhaps suggesting that the Government should liberalize air access on international sectors to the same extent as they have done domestically, Sukamdani reminded that the development of national tourism should notbe the sole responsibility oof Garuda Indonesia.
Ben Sukma - Indonesian Association of Tour & Travel Agents
Similarly, the Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA), Ben Sukma, said he shared Sukamdani's optimism on realizing the 7 million target, providing that promotion funds are put in place and the Government is prepared to cooperate with the private sector.
Sukma complained: "The problem is we need a breakthrough. For the past 20 years the promotion and marketing of Indonesian tourism has always used the same formula – bring a performing arts team; host a dinner, meet the press, and have meetings with the local tourism industry. (It's time) we directly approached the main markets and meet the consumers."
Sukma called for money to be spent on a new approach to promoting tourism based on the specific and very different characteristics of each market, utilizing sophisticated market analysis in every instance.
At the same time, Sukma warned: "If within 3 months time dating from the Vice President's request for a revised tourism target there has been no coordination (between the private and public sectors), then we might as well forget about it, even though the tourism associations are prepared to support any effort."
Sukma said he was confident that if the government cooperated with the tourism industry on both the local and national level the 7 million foreign visitor target was achievable.
Air Paradise Offers Majority Stake to Bali Government
Airline Re-Launch Includes Plans to Fly to Australia and at Least 4 Domestic Destinations in Indonesia.
The Indonesian language BisnisBali reports that Air Paradise (API) has offered 51% of its shares to the Government of Bali in an effort to secure the estimated Rp. 250 billion (approximately US$27.5 million) needed to restart the airline grounded by financial woes since December 2005.
Convinced that a majority share-holding by the Bali Government would bolster the Airline's battered image, API's Chairman. I Made Wiranatha has presented detailed investment proposal to the Bali Government including projections of profitability within two years. Bali's leaders were offered a controlling 51% share in the airline for Rp. 150 billion (approximately US$16.5 million) with 33% remaining in the hands of Wiranatha and a 16% shareholding by Sri Lankan businessman Sudhahar Sunthaeampillai.
Wiranatha told BisnisBali that he hoped the Government would support API's mission, adding, "Bali needs an independent approach to its main tourism markets, especially now when the number of flights operating to Bali are extremely limited."
Putu Oka Semadi, a Director of API told the press that between 2003 and 2005 the Airline carried 589,407 people to Bali contributing an estimate Rp. 7 trillion (approximately US$769.2 million) to Bali's economy.
Bali officials are remaining non-committal on the investment proposal from API, insisting they need time to study the proposal.
While a firm date for the resumption of service still remains unclear, Semadi told BisnisBali that the resumption of flights to Australia will be supported by a domestic network initially connecting Bali to Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Balikpapan using Boeing 737-400 aircraft.
Semadi explained that the "new" API business model which will make the Airline not solely dependent on international passengers by diversifying their flight offerings to include both domestic and international traffic.
Indonesia Appoints Meeting Czar
New Appointment to Assist Indonesian Bid for Major Conferences and Conventions.
To that end, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism recently appointed Suryadharma as the Head of its newly established Directorate of Convention, Incentive and Exhibition.
A veteran of national tourism circles with more than 20 years in tourism postings, Suryadharma's most recent portfolio gave him responsibility for tourism business development. In the 1990s he worked for 5 years at the now defunct Indonesian Tourism Promotion Office in Los Angeles, California..
In comments to Trvel Trade Gazette Suryadharma said: : "My major focus will be to foster the professional development of Indonesian PCOs (professional conference organizers) and to work together with the private sector to bring more events to Indonesia."
Adding: "One of the goals of this directorate is to help generate quality tourist arrivals to the country. The directorate will also facilitate the industry in bidding for events."
Bali to Host World Federation of Tourist Guides in 2009
Bali Beats Out Macau and Singapore for World-wide Gathering of Professional Tourism Guides.
In tough competition with Macau and Singapore, Bali reigned victorious to be selected as the host of the 13th World Federation of Tourist Guides Association (WFTGA) conference scheduled for January 2009.
Bali was selected by direct vote among delegates from 27 countries attending the 12th WFTGA held in late January 2007 in Cairo, Egypt.
In the final vote to select the next conference venue, the 27 countries eligible to vote cast 14 votes for Bali, 8 votes for Macau and 5 votes for Singapore.
Organizers of the coming WFGTA conference in Bali are anticipating 400 delegates to attend.
The Chairman of the Bali Guide Association (HPI), Nyoman Kandia, told the Indonesian-language Bali Post that while the Singapore and Macau bid received substantial financial and personnel assistance in presenting and delivering their bid, the Bali bid managed to prevail with only a modest subsidy from the Government to cover registrations fees in Cairo for the Bali delegates.
Kandia called on all components of the local tourism industry in Bali to support HPI in its role as hosts for the 2009 WFTGA event.
Taking Care with Carrefour
Local Leaders Keeping an Eagle-Eye on Carrefour Hypermarket Development.
Following a surprise inspection of the Carrefour Hypermarket site along Kuta's Sunset Road on January 30, 2006, by local representatives of the Golkar Faction from the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD), questions have been raised regarding the lack of transparency surrounding the international grocers licensing process.
According to a report in the Indonesian-language DenPost, local legislators are concerned over irregularities in the declared use of the four-storey building, with officials applications reportedly stating that the hypermarket operator will only use the top floor of the structure.
Meanwhile, some elements of the local community have complained that the projects developer, PT Nusa Raya Cipta, have failed to incorporate Balinese architectural elements in the exterior building design, as required by law.
The visiting lawmakers also called on Carrefour to be transparent in its hiring practices, ensuring that local Balinese are employed at both the management and worker level.
Thousands of Dead Fish Wash Ashore Near Tabanan Following 'Red Tide' Poisoning.
Thousands of dead fish have washed ashore along Bali's western coast near Tabanan during the last week of January 2007. The rotting fish carcasses, stretching 35 kilometers from Pantai Nyanyi to Pantai Selabih, have been analyzed by a team of experts drawn from the Department of Fisheries, the Department of Meteorology and scientists from two Universities in Bali.
Based on their findings, the sudden appearance of so many dead fish along the shore line is blamed on the effects of El Nino which has promoted the abundant growth of deadly plankton along the affected shores, precipitating the subsequent appearance of a deadly red tide.
According to IBP Wisnawa Manuaba, Head of Fisheries for Bali quoted in the Indonesia language Nusa Bali, the growth of plankton along the shoreline is initially beneficial, serving as a rich source of nutrition for sea life. In the latter stages of the process, however, the accumulation of great quantities of decomposing plankton along the shoreline changes the chemical composition of seawater resulting in an infamous red tide which is highly toxic to surrounding sea-life.
Bali has experienced fish kill-offs due to red tides in the past, with similar events recorded in 1994, 1998 and 2003.
In the latest outbreak, lesser quantities of dead fish have also washed ashore along Bali's famous Kuta Beach.
Local authorities are warning local villagers not to eat the dead fish, citing the possibility of toxic poising to animals and humans resulting from consumption.
In the worst affected areas near Kerambitan, local communities have organized themselves into teams to collect and bury them the dead fish.
We've All Gone to Look for America
Bali by the Numbers: At Home and Abroad – American Arrivals Aren't What They Used to Be.
In balidiscovery.com's continuing look at foreign tourist arrivals for 2006, this week's installment of Bali by the Numbers examines arrivals from the America cover the seven-year period 2000-2006.
Click Chart to Enlarge
The graphics presented show:
▪ Total arrivals ex-The Americas (North, South and Central America) are down -37.26% from the levels recorded 7 years ago. The important U.S. market is down -40.67% with its decline dating from the 9-11 attacks in 2001 and worsening in 2002 with the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and Bali bombing of October in that year.
▪ The fallout in business ex-The Americas was more severe and sustained following the October 2002 terror attack than was the case following the October 2005 attack. This may reflect some degree of acclimatization to the realities of daily life during the on-going world wide "war on terror."
▪ If the Americas stay true-to-pattern, expect a slow but gradual growth in arrival numbers throughout 2007.