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Talkin 'Bout Blue Skies

Bali Tourism Chief Calls on Central Government to Make Bali's Skies More Open.

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The Jakarta-based Indonesian-language daily, Kompas reports Bali's local government has repeatedly petitioned the Central government in Jakarta to ease air access for airlines seeking new or expanded traffic rights to Bali.

Expanded air access is seen as fundamental to Bali's tourism dominated-economy and important to the rest of the Nation's tourism economy due to the Island's role as the gateway for national tourism. However, efforts to open the international skies to Bali have thus far yielded little sympathy and less results from Indonesia's Department of Civil Aviation.

This seeming impasse between Bali's regional leaders and their counterparts in the Capital was made public at a meeting on Saturday, January 29, 2005, at a meeting attended by the Head of Bali's Department of Tourism, Gede Nurjaya with over 100 travel companies from Japan at the Paradise Hotel & Spa in Seminyak.

Nurjaya explained that development of tourism in Indonesia, including Bali, is tightly linked to the support of airlines which connect Indonesia with the source countries of potential tourism visitors.

Not Just A Problem for Foreign Airlines

Saluting Air Paradise International - Bali's home-grown airline – for its role in promoting the island's tourism, Nurjaya explained that the Central Government's reluctance to embrace a policy of more open skies for Bali affects both domestic and international carriers alike. Requests by Air Paradise to commence service between Bali and Osaka remained unanswered for many months by the Civil Aviation Department, despite the endorsement of Bali's provincial government.

Permission to serve this route has only recently been given by the Indonesian Government to Air Paradise.

According to Nurjaya, a healthy tourism sector in Bali is not just good for Bali, but benefits the country as a whole. For example, the national revenue originating from the tourism sector is about US$5 billion per year. Of this amount, Bali is the biggest contributor, bringing in US$2 to 3 billion dollars.

Rebutting an argument often made for restricting air traffic rights, Nurjaya said, "if there's any concern about terrorist infiltration due to opening new air routes, then security should be tightened. We should not be closing doors for approval for new flight routes."

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