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Preserving Irrigation Systems and Tax Relief for Farmers Needed to Keep Bali from Being Paved Over.
BisnisBali says that Bali's agricultural lands must be protected to counteract the uncontrolled conversion of farming land to other uses that has occurred over the past few years. Prof. Dr. I Wayan Windia of Udayana University's Agriculture Faculty warned: "The change in function has been uncontrolled. Meanwhile, land taxes on agricultural tracts in strategic areas are very high. These tax rates are not in step with the agricultural output of these lands." He said the destruction and the interruption of irrigation systems (subak) is also accelerating the shift from agriculture land use. "If someone buys land, they tend to block off irrigation ditches, isolating agriculture lands further downstream," he added. While irrigation ditches are technically owned by the local community, the land office in Bali has proven itself incapable of monitoring and protecting the ancient subak irrigation system. Because of this, Windia is calling on the authorities to protect agricultural lands that are being increasing laid waste by residential and villa projects. It is equally important, according to the agricultural economists, that tax rates be controlled and kept at a level affordable to local farmers. The Bali agricultural service estimate that 84,118 hectares of farming land remains available in Bali.
Bali Needs Direct Air Access from Europe
Bali's ASITA Wants More Direct Flight from Europe to Help Grow the Lucrative Market of European Visitors.
The Bali Chapter of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA) is recommending to the Department of Air Communications that they open more direct air access between Europe and Bali. As reported by Beritabali.com, this recommendation is being made by ASITA in order to increase tourism visits to Bali. The Bali Chapter of the organization of professional travel agents believes that the strong desire among Europeans to visit Bali is currently being thwarted by the lack of direct flights. The Chairman of ASITA Bali, Al Purwa, underlined the importance of European travelers to Bali's economy given their higher rate of relative daily spending and length of stay of between one week and one month. Explained Purwa, "First, they (the Europeans) come form long distances. If someone flies a long distance they tend to stay longer at the destination." Purwa is optimistic that if direct flights between Europe and Bali are increased, Bali will be able to attract 2.5 million foreign visitors in 2010. The official target for foreign visitors to Bali in 2010 is 2.2 million.
Bank Indonesia Decrees Indonesian Credit Cards Must Now Bear Security Chips.
Bank Indonesia has decreed that, beginning in early 2010, all credit cards issued in Indonesia are required to contain a computer chip as an added security measure. A regulation issued by the Bank in April 2009 mandates the use of chips. Sri Suparni, the Deputy Director of the Directorate of Payment Systems at Bank Indonesia, said: "In order to enhance security, we are widening the use of chips which offer more security than the old magnetic strips." She explained that the chips store customer information in a more secure way that is less accessible to possible fraudsters than is the case with the magnetic strip cards. Only credit cards issued in Indonesia are affected by the new ruling. Whether ATM cards and other debit cards will eventually be included in the new ruling is still under review by the Bank. According to Bank Indonesia, as of January 2010, 99.6% of the 10,262,331 Indonesian credit card holders have already had their old cards converted to chip-carrying cards. This change in policy has also made necessary the replacement to Electronic Data Capture (EDC) machines capable of dealing with the new chip-enabled cards. To date, 83.78 % of the 219,000 EDC machines operating in Indonesia have been replace with machines able to facilitate the chips. Foreign travelers carry the older magnetic strip cards may begin encountering problems using their cards in Indonesia as the "old-fashioned" magnetic strip EDC machines are phased out.
Bali and Beyond: Southeast Sulawesi
Southeast Sulawesi Opens Tourism Office in Bali and Two Other Indonesian Cities in Order to Help Increase Domestic and International Tourism Visitors.
The Culture and Tourism Office for Southeast Sulawesi (Sultra) is opening tourism information centers in three major Indonesian cities in order to enhance the promotion of that province. The Head of the Culture and Tourism Office for Southeast Sulawesi, Ibrahim Marsel, told Bisnis.com that the three cities scheduled to host Sultra Tourism Information Offices are Jakarta, Bali and Batam. "These Tourism Information Offices will be open 24 hours a day for access by anyone desiring information on Southeast Sulawesi tourism and the tourism activities planned for 2010," Marsel explained. In opening the Tourism Information Centers, the plan is to increase both domestic and international tourism visitors to the region and to use the network of centers to organize a schedule of promotional events. Sultra has created a calendar of tourism events for 2010 including the Wakatobi Festival, an international gathering of Bajo people, a seminar on international archeology, Halo Sultra and Discover Sultra.Halo Sultra will present the traditional cultural traditions of the province and promote local producers and is scheduled to be held in April 2010. Discover Sultra will be held in September – October 2010 and will focus on art and culture, local products, the selection for a tourism ambassador and Miss Sultra, and a meeting of Sultans from palaces and principalities across Indonesia. Included in their promotion program is Sultra Vista Vaganza Bali to help publicize Southeast Sulawesi to the Bali travel industry and the many international visitors to the island.
Bali Tourism to Focus on Key Markets
Bali Tourism Promotion in 2010 Aimed on Australia, Japan, Europe and Malaysia.
The Bali Tourism Authority (BTA) has announced that it will continue to promote in key potential markets, such as Australia and Japan. Australia and Japan continued to be the main source markets for Bali tourism in 2009 with Australia displacing Japan as the top producing country for visitors. Beritabali.com quotes the Head of the BTA, Ida Bagus Subhisku, as saying the demand for Bali among Japanese and Australian tourist remains high, with many travelers from these markets yet to discover Bali for the first time. Said Subhisku: "Many Australians and Japanese do not know Bali, prompting us to promote in these two countries. This is also the case for Europe. Asia and China are also quote promising." Within ASEAN Subhisku sees Malaysia as the country with the most potential for visitors, with Malaysian nationals now holding fourth place among all foreign visitors to Bali.
Abdurrahman Wahid, Indonesia's 4th President, Dead at 69
Gus Dur Loved and Respected for his Tireless Defense Democracy and Religious Tolerance.
Indonesia’s 4th President, Abdurrahman Wahid, more popularly known as “Gus Dur,” died on Wednesday evening, December 30, 2009, at Jakarta's Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital at the age of 69. The late President and champion of religious and cultural tolerance had been suffering from kidney failure and diabetes. Wahid's condition declined rapidly starting from at mid-day on Wednesday, causing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to interrupt his schedule to rush to Gus Dur's bedside at the moment of death. Controversial for what were seen as his sometime contrarian stands, Gus Dur will be remembered as uncompromisingly committed to democracy and Indonesia's acceptance of an inclusive form of government providing opportunity and protection to every political, racial and religious grouping. As a mark of both the man and the esteem in which he was held, many of those interviewed on local television stations following his death, including some who had vigorously opposed Gus Dur during his lifetime, were reduced to tears when asked to comment on his passing. Gus Dur came to power as President in 1999, a post he held for less than 2 years before being replaced by Megawati Soekarnoputra, who served out the remainder of his term. Gus Dur, whose funeral included official Presidential ceremonial rites, was buried in a simple graveyard in Jombang, East Java.
"All religions insist on peace. From this we might think that the religious struggle for peace is simple ... but it is not. The deep problem is that people use religion wrongly in pursuit of victory and triumph. This sad fact then leads to conflict with people who have different beliefs." Abdurrahman Wahid - 1940 – 2009
Police Arrest Two Men in the Murder of Japanese Woman
Bali Police Take Less than 5 Days to Arrest Two Men in the Murder of Japanese Woman in Kuta.
As reported by balidiscovery.com, a Japanese woman was brutally murdered in Bali on Saturday December 26, 2009 [See: Japanese Woman Murdered in Kuta] In less than a week after the commission of the crime, Bali police have identified and arrested two men for the murder of Hiromi Shimada (41) but with authorities still trying to identify a motive for the crime. The Head of the Denpasar Police, Alit Widana, according to Kompas.com, says that the police held strong evidence linking the men arrested to the murder. Widana said the men arrested knew the Japanese woman and she was killed for personal reasons. In a separate report in Bertitabali.com, the two men identified as having murdered and raped the woman are two construction workers from Java, Mawaradi, also known as Anto, and Abdurahman, also known as Abdu. The men have reportedly already admitted to the police that the murder took place after a drinking session with the deceased woman and was precipitated by her refusal to have sex with the men. Anto was arrested at his residence in Kuta while police arrested Abdu in his hometown of Jember in East Java. Police have entered into evidence a knife used in the murder, clothing, cable use to bind the victim, jewelry, the victim's passport, ATM card and wallet. An autopsy on the woman's body performed at Bali's Sanglah General Hospital confirmed that she had been stabbed 25 times and bled to death from 6 stab wounds to her stomach. Hiromi had spent the last 10 years traveling back and forth between Bali and Japan. She had married and divorced Indonesian men twice during that period, giving birth to a child who now lives with her first husband. At the time of the fatal assault, Hiromi was living alone in cheap rented accommodation in Kuta. According to various reports, the Japanese woman enjoyed a partying life-style marked by bouts of drinking. Her means of support were reportedly monthly remittances of between Rp. 15-20 million (US$1,500 – US$2,000) sent by a relative in Japan. At the time of the death, she was awaiting deportation by immigration authorities scheduled for January 19, 2010, for having overstayed her visa. Following her death, police interviewed more than 20 persons of interest before making the arrest of the two men. In September 2009, another Japanese woman, Rika Sono (30), was murdered in Kuta leading to the arrest of a man who has confessed to killing her in a robbery attempt while posing as a policeman.
Neighbors, We’re Good Neighbors
Holiday Inn Baruna Resort Bali Cements Ties and Cooperation with its Surrounding Neighborhood.
The Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali has taken dramatic steps to strengthen ties with the surrounding community by signing of two memoranda of understanding (MUO) with community leaders in Kuta on December 28, 2009. Part of an increasing level of cooperation between the hotel and its Balinese neighbors which has included the installation of lighting along the beachfront and around a nearby temple, the construction of a statue at a main intersection near the Resort, and the provision of a fresh water source for use by local fishermen and beach workers. Under the terms of the just signed MOUs the resort assumed responsibility to cover part of the utility costs in the surrounding community and to become a major employer of community residents. The Resort's General Manager, Stéphane Varoquier said, "It's all about a establishing a shared sense of belonging. We are excited at the prospect of cooperating with local leaders to improve the overall appeal of this exceptional beachfront locale." Community representative, Dr. Mustika, made a brief speech following the signing. He commented, "I feel that there is passion and commitment within the boundaries of Holiday Inn. I am confident that the Resort will be recognized in the next Tri Hita Karana awards. This is a Balinese concept that acknowledges the harmonious balance between man, his environment and God Almighty. Hopefully this collaboration will become a pilot project for the local community and other hospitality based companies." Book a Stay at the [Holiday Inn Baruna Resort]
Cabinet Ministers Flock to Bali for New Years
Four Cabinet Ministers Spend Working Holidays Over New Year's in Bali.
Four Minister from the Indonesian Cabinet spent the New Year's period on a working holiday in Bali, according to the Protocol Department of the Bali provincial government and the national new agency Antara. • Minister of Health Endang Rahayu Setyaningsih was in town to attend the 50th anniversary of Denpasar's Sangah General Hospital. • State Minister for Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises, Syarifuddin Hasan, came to Bali to speak to 1,000 college graduates, encouraging them to become entrepreneurs. • Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Fadel Muhammad, was touring the regency of Karangasem in East Bali to inspect a prawn production center. • Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan spent the New Year holiday in Pumeteran on Bali's north shore in the Buleleng regency. During his visit, Zulkifli released ten rare and endangered Bali starlings back into the natural habitat of the West Bali National Park.
Tune Hotel Responds
Mark Lankster, CEO Target Hotels, Insists 'No Frills' Hotels are Good for Bali Tourism.
As reported on Balidiscovery.com [See: Bali Legislators Protest Tune Hotels Entry into Local Market] Bali two new "no frills" hotels have come under criticism form local legislators and business circles claiming their low price policies infringe on a portion of the market normally reserved for indigenous investors. Mark Lankster, Group CEO of Tune Hotels has contacted balidiscovery.com with the following points of rebuttal: • Tune Hotels.com is a limited service product. What this means is that we eschew the traditional amenities that our guests have told us are not important to them and pass on the cost savings directly to our guests. These amenities include ballrooms, business centers, conference rooms, swimming pools, gymnasiums and so forth. In addition we are very mindful of the massive carbon footprint that traditional hotels produce via extraordinary energy use and try to reduce energy costs as much possible via assisting our guests to save on air-conditioning and reduce effluent into our sewerage systems through lowering laundering of towels, etc. We provide very competitive room rates which are not inclusive of air-conditioning or towels and amenities and by paying extra assist our guests to play their part via a "
"pay for use" system. • Our overall pricing policy is driven very much by our business model. Our model is that bookings are driven through our website and our booking engine deploys a proprietary demand based pricing model. What this means is that consumers, similar to the low cost carriers, who plan in advance can obtain very attractive room rates for stay dates booked significantly in advance. Bookings made at a late stage, i.e. for only a week in advance or if a walk-in, attract a higher price, depending on the demand for room bookings on that specific date and generated by the software within our bookings engine. For our Bali hotels a single room rate starts at Rupiah 68,000 per night, not including charges and taxes, again provided you book significantly in advance and the other end of the spectrum on late bookings or walk-in bookings, we would naturally be comparable with other 3 star hotels. • Our mantra is that we do provide a “5 Star Sleeping Experience for a 1 Star Price”, meaning that for attractive room rates for advance bookings, we offer a great night’s sleep with great beds. We are not a 5 star hotel with the amenities and services of a 5 star hotel. • The macro economic reality is that the world's low cost carriers are driving the growth of passenger numbers and tourists overall. Some of these passengers will opt to stay at limited service hotels and book considerably in advance, like Tune Hotels.com, but some clearly will opt to stay at higher end hotels and resorts and locally flavored Melati styled accommodation. We have seen that the growth in total passenger numbers and in addition, our own aggressive marketing and advertising strategies, tends to benefit the entire tourism ecosystem. First of all, oftentimes we are full on 100% occupancy and other hotels, inns and resorts are automatically beneficiaries from our aggressive marketing. Secondly, the guests at any of the Tune Hotels.com network, end up actually spending more time and money in the local economy as they have saved on "in-hotel" costs, specifically room rates. The multiplier effect within the local economy can be quite significant. • Travelers and tourists are considerably smarter today and know what they want and are in a position to make informed decisions. A Tune Hotel will not fit the needs and expectations of all. Each class of hotel in, for example Bali, has its specific lure and attractions. What we do offer is additional choice in the hospitality spectrum and that choice comes with a limited amount of services.
Oil and Water Don’t Mix
Tune Hotels Denies Its Polluting Bali's Water Tables and Shares What it's Doing to Keep Peace with its Neighbors.
The controversy surrounding reports in the local press that the recently opened Tune Hotel on Jalan Ciung Wanara, Kuta in Bali is contaminating local water supplies continued to boil. Reports in NusaBali and Denpost speak of a visit to the hotel by Commissions A & B of the Badung House of Representatives (DPRD-Badung) on Monday, December 12, 2009. During the visit legislators found that the hotel held the required permits and licenses for operations but were highly critical that the hotel may be leaking fuel oil into the local water table. Sandjaja Widjaja, Country CEO, for Tune Hotels in Indonesia wrote to Balidiscovery.com clarify his company’s position. Widjaja said his company was taking the charges very seriously, insisting they reacted immediately when an initial 3 families contacted the hotel claiming water contamination. Checks ordered by the hotel of the structural integrity of the hotel's fuel tank revealed no breach while tests of local well water revealed no oil contamination. The first set of water tests were conducted by Udayana University and the company is awaiting the results of a subsequent test by Bali's Sanglah General Hospital due within the coming ten days. Tests were also conducted by the Bali Environmental Agency that showed some oil had been spilled onto the soil at the filling spout for the tank. This spillage is not, however, considered severe enough to cause ground water contamination. While no conclusive test have proven ground water contamination, for the sake of good community relations the hotel accepted a request from the 3 families and paid for a deepening of the current well's depth. The drilling process is now underway. In the word of Widjaja: "Whilst we are pleased to see that professional evidence indicates no mishaps have taken place, we are mindful of the situation facing our neighbors and are eager to help. Whatever the problems that have arisen with their water well, we feel the need to assist the 3 families to achieve their aim of fresh water and on the 26th December have been in the process of fulfilling that promise."
Loose Lips Sink Trips
Editorial: New Year's Eve Statements Issued by Bali Tourism Official Demonstrate a Lack of Professionalism in the Island's Marketing.
It was the email heard round the world. On December 31, 2009, Al Purwa, in his capacity as the Public Relations Director of the Bali Tourism Board sent a circular email advising the following: "The Governor of Bali Mr. Mangku Pastika wishes to share a message to all of us:
'There is an indication of an attack to Bali tonight.' but please don't be panic, but put your security system to full alert." Purwa, who is the Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA), also encouraged those receiving his message to "forward to all of your friends and colleagues." And forward it, they did. Within hours the email was prominent in Google News and a hot topic with various international media, including CNN, Sky Channel, BBN, CBS and Sky Channel. The email was also quoted by both the U.S. Embassy and British Embassy in their on-line travel advice for Indonesia. Spreading the word even further, Twitter and Facebook burned bright repeating the Tourism Board's warning to New Year's revelers in Bali, no doubt prompting some to cancel or curtail their plans for lavish spending on entertainment at one of Bali's many nightspots. With the dawn of the New Year and reports confirming no terrorist activities in Bali to usher in the New Year, other reports began to surface on the international media, some quoting Putu Suardika, the spokesman for the office of the Governor of Bali, denying that Pastika had ever made such a statement. Reuters quoted Suardika, saying: "No, he (the Governor) never said that, either in writing or verbally. We never put out any warning, either written or spoken." Police in Bali also discounted the Bali Tourism Board's warning. Gde Sugianyar, a spokesman for the Bali police, said his office was not aware of such a threat and "always tried to ensure security was as tight as possible." One Security office from an Embassy confided that the "indication" of an imminent attack mention in the Tourism Board email did not mesh with any current intelligence on terrorist threats for Bali. Similarly, the Head of the elite ant-terrorist Detachment 88 attached to National Police Headquarters, Brigadier General Tito Karnavian, said he had no idea of where the indication of an attack had originated and doubted its accuracy. Said Karnavian: "I don't know where this information came from. What's clear, it's not from us (Detachment 88). This information is not accurate and probably not correct." What Went Wrong? It's hard to conceive of any possible explanation for such a gross miscommunication. Either the Governor made such a statement or Purwa must explain on behalf of the Bali Tourism Authority how he could circulate a direct quote of the governor that Pastika's office absolutely refutes. On a more basic level, even if the governor had made such a statement, the email sent, despite its request not to panic, was so inexpertly crafted that it had the very opposite effect. If any lesson can be extracted from this entire mess, is that in the future, greater care must be taken in drafting official statements on behalf of Bali tourism; the facts must be checked and rechecked; and the authorization for publication should be signed off by people demonstrating greater communication acumen than that displayed in the subject email sent on New Year's eve. A failure to grasp these lesson will continue to cost Bali both its reputation and business. And, less we forget, the object of terrorism, like its name implies, is to create fear and terror. Spreading unsubstantiated innuendo, such as was the case with the BTB pronouncement, has made the organization charged with promoting Bali tourism an unwitting agent of terror. Bali cannot allow this highly embarrassing incident to merely fade into oblivion. Both the governor and the Bali Tourism Board should conduct a rigorous review to see how this happened and ensure it won't happen again in the future. Only this will begin to restore the public trust which has been so badly damaged by this needless "false alarm."
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