"I've found Bali Discovery Tours to be one of the most well informed and informative companies to deal with on Bali. They are professional and well organized. A very legitimate company that offers good discounts."
Variant Arrival Totals
from Perum Angkasa Pura - The Airport Authority
- Suggest Total Arrivals On the Upswing.
Preliminary data for direct foreign arrivals via
Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport for the
first four months of 2004 suggest Bali may be
making a rapid recovery of tourism numbers.
The arrival figure, inexplicably somewhat higher
than the official arrival figures from the Department
of Culture and Tourism, were supplied by the Airport
Authority (PAP) and in the Indonesian-language
Based on the PAP figures:
• Overall, 437,031 foreign tourists visited Bali
from January to April 2004, up 70.5% from the
performance during the same period a year earlier.
• April arrival figure in Bali totaled 117,107
up a dramatic 117.9% from the depressed 53,726
arrivals for April 2003, a period affected by
Iraqi war jitters.
• According to the PAP, March 2004 total arrivals
clocked in at 105,236, improving 45.35% from the
72,263. (Tourism Department total for March were
• Again based on the PAP figures, February arrival
figures increased 42.87% from the same month one
year earlier. February 2004 direct arrivals to
Bali were 93,392 compared to 67,469 in 2003. (Tourism
Department figure for February arrivals were 84,348)
• PAP January 2004 foreign direct arrivals statistic
to the island totaled 119,292, increasing 96.09%
from the 60,836 people who visited in January
2003. (Tourism Department arrival totals for January
What Do The Numbers Mean?
Whichever set of statistics are used, there is
a definite trend of improvement in overall arrivals.
April's very strong performance, if sustained
in the May figures, will provide strong evidence
of a return to pre-bombing arrival trends.
What the Numbers Don't Show.
Although numerically strong, the arrival figures
do not reflect the significant drop in quality
of arrivals to Bali. Increased arrivals from regional
and Asian markets, while helping Bali play catch
up in the numbers' race, do not compensate
for the continuing depression in the European
and American markets.
Current average spends per day in Bali are estimated
at only US$60.95 with average-length-of-stays
averaging only 6 days. In better times the average
spend in Bali by tourist totaled US$134.66 and
tourist stayed an average 10.97 days.
Thus, while total arrivals are increasing back
to pre-bomb levels, the shortfall in foreign exchange
hovers at more than 50% and the loss in room nights
generated by foreign tourist to local hotels lags
somewhere between 40-50%.
New Bali Resort Promises
Travelers a Holistic Experience.
Scheduled to open in June 2004, the Uma
Ubud will be the newest addition to Ubud's
outstanding list of fine boutiques resorts and
Owned and managed by Como Hotels and Resorts,
the 27-suite property has been designed to be
an oasis of peace and tranquility high on the
banks of the Wos River, overlooking the
Campuan Valley. The Bali property's owning company
promises to bring its world-renowned Shambala
experience to its Ubud property's guests featuring
yoga, Asian-inspired mind and body therapies and
an intimate connection with the rich Balinese
culture that surrounds the property.
Like its sister property the Uma Paro
in the hills of Bhutan, the Uma Ubud
will combine local aesthetics with an impeccable
commitment to modern design and comfort. Similarly,
menus will combine only the freshest quality local
organic ingredients and spices individually prepared
in sophisticated Asian culinary traditions. Australian
chef Chris Miller, a former protégé of Neil Perry
and the Rockpool in Sydney traveling by way of
Como's Parrot Cay Resort, will present
a menu both healthful and original in concept.
Interiors have been designed by Koichiro Ikebuchi
who has created an aesthetic that interacts with
the lights and colors of the properties tropical
jungle setting. Carved panel yield to views of
rice terraces and volcanoes in sleeping quarters
surrounded by tropical gardens and private plunge
pools. Local woods and Balinese traditional thatched
roofs celebrate the privilege of being in Bali
while spacious rooms, beginning from 45 square
meters, boast all the comforts modern travelers
demand: TVs, DVD player, mini-bars and in-room
The Resort also features an open-air pavilion
for group and private yoga practice, a gym, a
meditation bale, a spa with four treatment
rooms, and an expansive pool.
At certain periods of the year the Resort will
offer Yoga Weeks, some dedicated to women
only, as well as fitness weeks. All will be led
by recognized leaders and teachers in their fields,
as will Adventure Challenge Weeks comprised of
trekking, white-water rafting and volcano climbing.
A Holistic approach to travel and relaxation –
opening soon in Ubud.
Unites to Battle HIV/AIDS Epidemic.
On Friday, May 7, 2004, Bali's Governor Dewa Beratha,
the Speaker of the Provincial Parliament, and
local government chiefs from across the island
gathered in Sanur to sign a document declaring
their combined efforts to turn back the tide of
the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The signing ceremony, witnessed by Indonesia's
Minister of the Interior Hari Sabarno, Minister
of Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah and local
representatives of the Ministry of Health, created
a document now dubbed the "Sanur Commitment" outlining
the steps to be taken in the treatment and prevention
of HIV/AIDS in Bali.
The officials agreed to intensify programs encouraging
the use of condoms to 80% by members of the population
involved in high-risk sexual practices. Current
estimates for condom use in those groups stand
at less than 10%. Also included in the commitment
are aggressive programs of public education on
HIV/AIDS and steps to remove the stigma and discrimination
currently suffered by known HIV/AIDS sufferers.
AIDS Prevention Now Mandatory Part of
All Company Policies
On April 29, 2004, Indonesia's Minister of Manpower
and Transmigration issued a decree requiring all
Indonesian companies to make HIV/AIDS prevention
a part of their occupations health and safety
Studies carried out by Family Health International
have put the cost of a single HIV/AIDS case in
a company at between Rp. 30-70 million (approximately
US$3,530 –US$8.235). Under the new Ministerial
decree discrimination in the workplace against
workers suffering with HIV/AIDS is now illegal.
Current estimates are that 3,000 residents of
Bali are infected with HIV/AIDS.
Nyepi 2005 Date Set
to March 11, 2005 as Official Date for next Nyepi
Day of Silence.
The May 5, 2004, edition of the Indonesian-language
Bali Post reports the Government Department
charged with the Hindu and Buddhist Affairs has
accepted the recommendation of the Parisada
Pusat that the next Nyepi day should
fall on Friday, March 11, 2004.
Nyepi is the day marking the first day
of the Balinese Saka calendar and is strictly
observed island-wide with a day of absolute silence
and meditation, including the shut down for a
36 hour period of the island's airport.
The exact day that should be set aside for Nyepi
observances is a topic of lively debate on the
island. Its exact date is dependent on which calendar
system is used to calculate the passage of time.
Hindus in Indonesia create their calendar based
on one of four systems: either the movements of
the solar system, tracking the earth’s journey
around the sun; the movements on the lunar system,
timing the rotation of the moon around the earth;
the 210-day rotation of the ancient wuku calendar
comprised of 30 weeks of 7 days; or the prenatasamasa
system tied to the movement of the sun and the
start of the seasons.
Based on ancient lontar leaf chronicles
originating from both solar and lunar traditions,
Nyepi should fall in 2005 on March 11,
2005. However, there are others who contend –
also using lunar and solar movements as their
reference, that the correct date for Nyepi
should be April 9, 2005.
Mark March 11 on Your Calendar!
Confused? Don't be.
The current 'consensus', subject to a final decree
to be issued by Bali's Governor, is that Nyepi
will be celebrated on March 11, 2005, marking
the start of the new Balinese year of Saka
Jeli Lala – The Balé's Master in Residence
Crystal and Sound Healing May 17-31, 2004.
The Balé – the 20 unit luxury boutique property near Nusa Dua – is continuing its series of life-changing program with the participation of Jeli Lala as its next Master in Residence from May 17-31, 2004.
During her stay Jeli Lala will be conducting sessions in Crystal and Sound Healing. Her remarkable affinity for sound, color and light and the use of crystals and sound healing allow Jeli Lala to bring the body into balance and alignment.
A veteran of 8 years of studying Kundalini Yoga with Amber Lambada in London; 10 years of practicing Gabriele Roth's Five Rhythms Dance with Sue Stoppard; 4 years of work with healing sound with Melanie Harrold in London; and 5 years of living in Bali – have all brought Jeli Lala to her unique practice of enhancing health, resolving emotional issues, and reducing stress.
The programs offered during her Master in Residence Program at The Balé include:
• Crystal Healing - using carefully selected crystals to help you reach an optimal balance of charkas and energy systems.
• Sound Healing - using specially calibrated gold crystal tuning forks to clear emotional blocks, allowing cellular memories that are stuck in the body's energy system are released. Jeli Lala also uses a technique in which you bathe in a healing wall of vocal toning.
Jeli Lala – Master in Residence at The Balé May 17-31, 2004.
State-owned Airline Need for Significant Cash Injection Deepens.
Merpati Nusantara Airlines (MZ) - the state-owned carrier that provide the only air link to many of Indonesia's most remote regions, is in serious need of a cash injection to continue to operate. That was the picture painted by the Managing Director of MZ, Mr. Hotasi Nababan, in recent testimony before Commission IV of the National Parliament in Jakarta.
The Airline faces debts of Rp. 1.3 trillion (approximately US$153 million) and difficulties in securing capital to upgrade their armada and keep apace of growing competition in the domestic air travel market.
Mr. Nababan warned the legislators that if current conditions continued and the airline did not get an injection of capital, the economic condition of the carrier will continue to worsen.
He told the officials attending the hearing, "Merpati needs support to convert government debt into share equity. We are also taking steps to make a share offering to secure new funds. Beside those steps, we hope that the company can eventually go public, but for now the priority it loan restructuring and the need for fresh cash."
Against its debt load of Rp. 1.3 trillion on its balance sheet MZ only has Rp. 500 billion (approximately US$58.8 million) of assets. Because of its negative equity position and limited working capital, Mr. Nababan feels that privatization of the Airline is the only realistic solution for the Airline.
The Airline's Managing Director went on to explain that while in 1993 MZ controlled 41% of the domestic air market, that figure has decreased to only 18% today.
Legislators, meanwhile, were less than receptive to Mr. Nababan's call for privatization. Eager to net money for the cash-starved treasury, lawmakers said they would only support privatization when MZ's equity position improved sufficiently to ensure a higher price for the Government in any eventual sale.
We Get Mail
The State of Tourism Recovery, Visa Simplification and Taxis - Caused People to Write Us.
"I have to say I don't think the government is really helping the tourist industry. The word here in Australia is that Denpasar arrivals are chaotic, more so than ever, with the new (tax) visa setup. Together with other internal troubles in Indonesia this tends to scare off travelers, and SARS is still a threat. Know you guys on Bali can't do much about problems throughout the Republic, and SARS is also outside your control, BUT, when every travel agent in Australia is groaning about complaints over the visa problem, and you have shut out the long term retirees who used to winter for 60 days in Bali in that lovely sun and spend their money, your tourist industry must share some of the blame; and right now with rising fuel prices in Australia, I bet you would have picked up more old grey nomads for the winter, now they will go to the Philippines once the election is over, 59 day stay, no visa cost, so easy!"
• Steve Bradley, also from Australia, wrote:
"My wife and I have just returned from a 7 day trip back to Bali ... and for the first time in years, traveled during a 'peak time' of Perth school holidays. The flights were full for all airlines at that time, however, it was amazing to see so few people on the streets. We spent time in both Kuta and Ubud and noticed how few tourists were actually out and about. The road works in Kuta/Legian may have had something to do with that. There is a marked increase in Police presence, even more so than last year and more restaurants! There are too many hotels competing for the current volume of traffic and this may not change for some time, however the good ones will survive and prosper. The visa deal at the airport was only an annoyance, not a problem, however we were the only aircraft in at that time so there was no crowd ... We would have spent the extra USD50.00 in the economy anyway but now, who knows where it ends up? Can't wait to return!"
• A Balinese reader of Bali Update, Mr. Nengah Darmana, wrote to offer a local perspective:
"... after reading comments about whether Bali has recovered or not I think we are talking about the wrong subject here. To me we need to look at our self first as a Balinese. We need to be proactive in terms of policies to attract the visitors to come back to Bali. The Governor of Bali needs to make policies which are in the best interests of Bali, (e.g. security, clean up, free the beach areas from hawkers and look at the policies which will directly benefit local or small business). Today more tourists stay less than 7/10 days because of Airline's selfishness. These people will eat, drink, and arrange tours shop within the hotel areas - all profits going to the big end of town. These visitors will not bring much benefit to small businesses .We needs to attract more tourists who will stay more that one month then this will benefit local or small business and my Balinese brothers and sisters ... I hope the local government has the guts to say to the people in Jakarta, we need have a policy which benefit us first. If they charge $US 25 entry fee, fair enough, but they should be allowed to stay more than 1 month without visa requirements."
• Tara Caruto, wrote to say:
"I've noticed over the years that advertised packages to Bali are getting shorter and shorter. We used to go for a month, as we got older and busier that dropped to two weeks. Lately I have noticed advertisements for four night packages and wondered who would bother to go to Bali for four days. This is an extreme example but six nights is still really common. Maybe it comes back to the tour operators ... come on guys give us a bit more time."
Visa Process to be Simplified
Our coverage of promises from the immigration department to simplify the processing of visas on arrival [Visa Process to be Simplified]
evoked readers to respond.
• Repesse wrote to comment:
"Visa process to be simplified sounds a little bit like an absurd tasteless joke to many foreigners ... Have those who are responsible with this absurd measure calculated the number of foreign tourists who have chosen other neighboring destinations in order to avoid immigration harassment? Not only domestically unpopular, but it was so badly implemented that no Indonesian Embassy abroad could accurately explain its effective regulation and coming into effect for months ... Not only this new visa policy is absurd and going against the interest of the people, but had it been a little more closely thought out, simplifying its process would not have been necessary. Waiting at the airport for up to three hours after more than an average sixteen hours of travel is unacceptable and plain ridiculous. Admitting that this procedure will be simplified four months after its actual implementation is just as absurd."
• A reader in Indonesia, Sarah Hillier, wrote:
"It will be good if this were to be simplified but I think they should allow visitors to pay US$50 for a two month stay. Making people leave after 30 days when they could stay longer before means they will probably move on to Phuket or another holiday destination and spend their $$ there. Lots of schools have their summer breaks coming up (June-Aug)."
Metered Taxis Operating Again at The Westin Resort
• John Grosvenor, from New South Wales in Australia said:
"When in Bali, we use the taxis rather than rent a car and regularly travel as far afield as Soka and Ubud, plus local trips. From many bad experiences we now only use Bali Taxi; or if no other choice; the dark green fleet. The local, mainly white taxis are:- dirty, rarely air conditioned, often rude and the meters often charge higher (I know they should not) than Bali Taxi. Sometimes when I wait to select a Bali Taxi I get abuse from the local drivers ... I guess when the local co-ops work out why regular tourists avoid them they may respond by lifting their game.....Otherwise my experiences in Bali make me return again and again despite Yusril Mahendra's poorly executed visa fiasco!"
Indonesian National Carrier Adjust Menus to Keep its Passengers Healthy.
Garuda Indonesia Airlines have expanded their passenger services to include healthy menus, in keeping with competitive practice in the airline industry.
According to Iche Herdiana, General Manager of In-flight Services, Garuda is increasing the amount of vegetarian and low-fat menu options offered to its passengers.
New menus were recently unveiled to members of the Garuda Frequent Flyers Club at the Aerowisata Catering Facility (A Garuda subsidiary) at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Aiport.
Similar launches to top corporate clients and Frequent Flier Members of the new healthy menu options are scheduled at Aerowisata's in-flight catering facilities in Medan, Surabaya, Makassar, and Bali.
Customs Officials Foil Skeleton Thieves
Bones Stolen From Bali's Lake Batur Grave Site Were Destined for France.
On Friday, May 7, 2004, Customs Officials at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport seized human skulls and other bones stolen from the resting place of Trunyan village on Lake Batur. The human remains, believed to be over 100 years old, were discovered in postal packets destined for France by airport officials. In the same packets officials also found a firearm and a sacred sword (Keris).
Trunyan Village, in Bangli Regency on a remote shore of Lake Batur, is home to an traditional village believed to be home to some of one of the earliest human settlements in Bali. Villagers in Trunyan have distinctive funereal practices that dictate the remains of the dead be left unburied and exposed to the elements.
Three separate resting spots around the village contain the decomposing remains of generations of Trunyan villagers divided according to whether they died as an infant or unmarried, due to an accident or suicide, and the most exalted area for those who died intact of natural causes. Locals and visitors insist that the macabre collection of human remains do not smell with any odor eliminated by flowering tree surrounding exposed remains.
Officials are expected to return the confiscated
skulls and bones to Bali for eventual return to
the shores of Trunyan.
National Tourism First Quarter Arrival up 21%
Ignoring Election and SARS Fears, Tourists Are Traveling to Indonesia.
Indonesia's Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) have released figure showing 1.03 million foreign tourists entered Indonesia through its 13 main gateways during the first three months of 2004.
Achieving a 21% improvement over arrivals for the same period in 2003 when arrivals were suffering badly in the aftermath of the Bali bombing, the healthly visitor arrival totals suggest that fears of election unrest did little to deter international travelers from visiting Indonesia.
According to the BPS, Bali's arrivals improved by 41% for the first quarter of 2004, totaling 303,342 visitors.
The Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism has set a target of 5 million foreign visitors for 2004.
New Sales Boss at Sobek
Fransiska Handoko Leave Ramada Bintang to Lead Sobek Sale's Effort.
Ms. Fransiska Handoko, the formerly attached to the Sales Department of Ramada Bintang Bali, has joined Sobek – The Adventure Specialists, effective May 2004.
Fransiska brings extensive background in product management, direct marketing, and sales presentation skills to her new position promoting Sobek's range of rafting trips, cycling tours, 4WD adventures, trekking and the recently acquired Bali Bird Park.
Gigi van Kuijk Leaves Creative Holidays to Take Up Sales Role with Bali Hai Cruises.
After spending the last two years as the Bali representative for Creative Holidays, Gigi van Kuijk has joined Bali Hai Cruises as that Company's Director of Sales.
Prior to moving to Bali, Gigi was based in New Zealand with The Travel Company - the owning company of Creative. In New Zealand her assignment was as a sales executive for ATT Kings selling premier coach tour holidays.
Born in Bermuda to parent of Dutch-Indonesian lineage born in Java, Gigi's Bali assignment represents something of a homecoming. Said Ms. Van Kuijk, "I have spent a great deal of time traveling to many places by sea so feel most at home on boats. Working at Bali Hai gives me the best of both worlds!"
Bali Hai Cruises is a leading day boat and water recreation company based at Bali's Benoa Harbor. They offer luxury catamaran cruises to a private beach club and pontoon, ocean rafting cruises, and sail-boat excursions.