Indonesia Joins World in Condemning the '7-7' Attacks in London.
The Thursday, July 7, 2005, morning rush hour attacks on innocents people traveling on London's public transport system has left at least 50 dead and 700 injured. This tragedy now joins the growing list of major cities around the world who have fallen victim to mindless acts of terror: New York, Bali, Madrid, Istanbul and, now, London.
Indonesia, also a victim of past terrorist attacks, wasted no time in condemning the the latest outrage. Foreign Minister Hassan Wirjuda reproached the attacks as "brutal" and offered his condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims.
"With the bombings at several points above and under the ground, this shows that acts of terrorism can happen anywhere and anytime. No single country is immune," Wirjudha told reporters just hours after receiving news of the latest attacks.
Indonesia's President took pause from the celebration of the marriage of his Son on Friday to issues his formal condolences following the London bombings. In a written statement issued to the press, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said, "I am completely confident that Prime Minister Tony Blair can overcome this tragedy and that the inhuman perpetrators of this attack will be caught and punished in accordance with the law."
Al Qaeda to Blame?
While police are still investigating the four explosions, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw has labeled the attacks as having the hallmarks of al Qaeda with his boss, Prime Minister Tony Blair, publicly blaming "Islamist extremists" for the mayhem.
Indonesia, at one time viewed as "soft" in the war on terror, has in recent days prior to the London attack undertaken massive sweeps against those suspected of having terrorist links. Newly installed Indonesian Chief of Police Sutanto has vowed to carry on the hunt for those terrorists still at-large and believed to be living in Indonesia. Similarly, Indonesian President Yudhoyono has pledged his government's full support in the war on terror, calling for greater international cooperation in investigating and tracking those responsible for such crimes.
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has condemned the indiscriminate terrorist acts in London of July 7, 2005, and sent its condolences to families and friends of those killed or injured.
In a statement issued by the international association of travel professionals, PATA reported that it has contacted the PATA UK Chapter and its colleagues at VisitBritain to offer the global PATA family's support.
PATA President and CEO, Mr Peter de Jong said: "Increasingly, tourists are aware that terrorists can strike anywhere anytime. After the tsunami, PATA urged tourists to visit tsunami-affected areas as part of the recovery process. Today we ask tourists who intended to visit the UK to continue with their visit."
"The resolve and unity of civilized people will prevail," he added.
Changes in Visa Policy on August 1, 2005
Minister of Justice Issues Empowering Decree for 14 More Countries to Receive Visa on Arrival Facility.
The Saturday, July 9, 2005, edition of the Indonesian-language Bali Post reports that changes in the number of countries eligible for visa-on-arrival (VOA) will take effect from August 1, 2005.
While the Minister of Culture and Tourism had previously signaled that changes in the VOA policy had been agreed by the Government, the formal empowering decree from the Ministry of Justice had yet to be issued making the implementation date for changes in the policy uncertain. [See: On Your Mark, Get Ready, Wait!]
Minister of Justice's Statement
Quoted in the Bali Post, Minister of Justice and Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin told the press on Friday, July 8, 2005, that he had now issued a formal decision (No. M-05.IZ.01.10 2005) addressing changes in the VOA policy and setting the implementation date for August 1, 2005.
According to the press report, 14 new countries will be added to the existing list of 21 countries eligible to purchase a visa upon arrival in Indonesia with the period of validity for short term visa's costing US$10 had been extended from three to seven days. The US$25 thirty day visa price and validity remain unchanged.
According to the Bali Post,, the 14 new countries eligible to obtain visas on arrival from August 1, 2005, include: Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Egypt, Austria, Qatar, Ireland, Maldives, Luxembourg, China and India.
The citizens of 21 countries and territories already eligible to purchase visas on arrival are: the United States, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Finland, Hungary, United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Germany, Canada, South Korea, Norway, France, Poland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
With the addition of the 14 new countries to the visa on arrival list the total number of countries eligible to purchase a visa comes to 35.
Apparently, discussions to add the Netherlands and Sweden to the list of voa eligible countries have been shelved, at least for the time being.
Call for Crackdown on Illegal Foreign Workers
Local Business Leader Says Illegal Foreign Workers Cost Indonesians Jobs and Frustrate Tax Collection Efforts.
A increasingly desperate need for foreign exchange to fund public spending projects has prompted calls from several quarters for a crack down on businesses in Bali operated illegally by foreigners.
Drs. Panudiana Kuhn, the Chairman of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Employers' Association (APINDO), was quoted in the Friday, July 8, 2005 edition of the Indonesian-language Bisnis Bali as saying the presence of illegal foreign workers in Bali was displacing local workers and causing substantial losses in tax collection efforts.
Kuhn estimates that there are some 5,000 foreign workers in Bali of which only 10% are formally registered and paying taxes.
According to Kuhn, if the local government took a more active role in enforcing labor and immigration policies against illegal foreign workers the amount of resulting tax revenue might well dwarf the tax collected from the hotel and restaurant sector. Moreover, Kuhn, who is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN), said the widespread failure to pay income tax by the foreign workers makes is problematical for the government to execute its current campaign to persuade Indonesians to accept their civic responsibility to pay taxes.
Kuhn called on the government to be more transparent in how they handle foreign workers and their tax issues in order to avoid creating social imbalances. "The Government must collect taxes in accordance with the law. This also includes foreign workers married to locals and operating businesses in the province," Kuhn insisted.
The Official Count
The 2004 government figures showed only 494 foreign "registered" residents living in Denpasar of which 43 were Americans, 107 Australians, 179 Asians, and 169 Europeans.
E-Ticketing for Garuda by 2007
Garuda and Lufthansa Systems Form Joint Venture –Lufthansa Systems Indonesia (LSI).
Garuda Indonesia and Lufthansa Systems have established a new joint-venture intended to help streamline Indonesia's national carrier's operations.
Lufthansa Systems Indonesia (LFI)
The new venture, owned 51% by Garuda and 49% by Lufthansa Systems, will work as an Internet Technology (IT) provider for IT solutions required in the operation of a modern air carrier.
In addition to providing e-ticketing and reservations systems the new company is also expected to look at information management on every level of an airline's operation, including the training of manpower, financial management and aircraft route management.
"The strategic partnership with Lufthansa Systems will give us the opportunity to position our company as a competitive player in the world-wide aviation marketplace," said Emirsyah Satar, President and CEO Garuda Indonesia. "By outsourcing our IT to the joint venture, we will be able to minimize our costs while gaining access to state-of-the-art technology at the same time," Satar added.
Not Just for Garuda
Lufthansa Systems Indonesia hope to market their services not only to Garuda but to other Indonesian and regional air carriers, as well.
E-Ticketing - scheduled to come on line at Garuda by 2007 is alone expected to improve the bottom line of the airline by as much as 3-5%.
We Ought to Be in Pictures
Bali's Picture Perfect and Ideal for Producers Looking for Exotic Film Locales.
The 2005 edition of /Locations Magazine, the authoritative publication used by directors, producers and location scouts, examines why film makers have a nature love affair for Bali. The article, "Bali Most Beautiful" traces Bali's long association with film-making - dating from Andres Roosevelt's 1932 epic "Goona Goona" and Henri de la Falaise's 1935 silent movie "Legong: Dance of the Virgins" to the just completed shooting of Mark Esposito's "Toute La Beaute Du Monde".
Security Not a Concern
Quoted in the article, Bali Film Commission's Founder Deborah Gabinetti said that among the growing number of producer bringing projects to Bali, surprisingly few have expressed security concerns. "We have close relations with all government departments, including local and national security forces," she said. "There are point people on call 24 hours a day assigned specifically to assist film crews, and preventative and emergency response services have also been increased. This gives us the confidence to actively and responsibly promote Indonesian to filmmakers."
Director Esposito endoresed Gabinetti's enthusiasm for Bali as a film locale, praising local cooperation and the ease of access provided to his crew during an eight week shoot covering some 60 locations.
Are Balinese Good Actors?
Following the Esposito project, however, the question of whether or not the Balinese are natural actors remains unanswered.
According to Esposito, "the people are always smiling and the local communities welcomed us warmly. Everyone on the set was very moved by the kindness and generosity of the Balinese."
His film project, depicting Bali and Lombok as the most beautiful places in the world - Toute la Beaute du Monde - relied heavily on the islands' natural charms and God-given beauty.
At least for this particular project, there was little call for skilled actors and set decorators.
Ailing Government-owned Airline Given Emergency Funding to Keep Flying.
Indonesia's Minister of Transportation, Hatta Radjasa, has told Tempo Interaktif.com that the Government is committed to saving P.T. Merpati Airlines from financial collapse.
The Minister's statement, made following a meeting with Commission V of the National Parliament, followed a decision to extend an emergency cash injection of Rp. 450 billion (approximately US$46.4 million) to avoid a complete cessation of services by the carrier. The cash injections, according to the Minister, will be divvied out in installments with the understanding that the airline's management will commence an immediate downsizing and re-invention of itself as a low-cost carriers while seeking a suitable private investor to secure the Company's future.
Merpati is currently estimated to be hemorrhaging some Rp. 40 billion (approximately US$4.1 million) each month, caused by deep-seated inefficiencies, including bloated payrolls established in the carrier's salad days. At one time, Merpati flew to over 60 domestic and regional destinations. Today, however, the Carrier flies an aging and fuel-inefficient fleet serving only half as many ports-of-call.
According to Minister Hatta, closing the airline completely is "not an option" with the estimated cost of closing the Airline's door approaching Rp. 2 trillian (approximately US$206 million).
Extra Security for Checked Luggage
Bali's Airport Now Offers Aerotek Secure Baggage Wrapping.
Following recent confirmed reports of widespread baggage tampering by workers at Sydney's airport and the resulting desire of travelers to make sure no one tampers with the contents of their luggage – a local company, PT Aero Tekno Utama, has introduced a shrink-wrap packing system for passengers departing from Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport.
Available from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport – Terminal 2 since October of 2004, the new Aerotek Secure Baggage Wrapping System was inaugurated at Bali's international departure terminal on July 1, 2005.
Although operational for only one week, the service is already drawing strong interest from passengers eager to prevent baggage theft and tampering. Similare systems are also in operation at many Australian airports.
Machine wrapping of a bag of any size is handled for Rp. 30,000 (approximately US$3.10). In addition, the company also offers a full hand-wrapping service for suitcases, rucksacks, and using babble wrap for delicate items for a charge of Rp. 50,000 (approximately US$5.15).
The company providing the secure wrapping service plans to soon extend its service to include the international terminals in Medan and Surabaya, followed by Jakarta's domestic Terminal 1.
No More Traditional Performances in Hotels?
Bali's PHRI Chief Wants Villages to Become the New Venues for Traditional Music and Dance Performances.
The Indonesian-language Bisnis Bali quotes the Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Tjokorda Ardana Sukawati, as suggesting that star-rated hotels stop presenting Indonesian dance and musical groups at their properties. Tjokorda was quoted as saying he feels that cultural programs – in particular dance presentations – should be gradually moved back to stagings reserved exclusively for the home villages of the performers.
Saying he shared a common concern that artists and performers in Bali are under-valued and under-paid, a facts he thinks is proven at least in part by the open trucks used to transport performing groups from villages to hotel venues where groups of 20-30 entertainers are paid as little as "one or two million Rupiahs"(approximately US$100 -$200) for the entire performance troupe. This arrangement leaves each participant with as little as one or two dollars for his or her contribution in an entire evening's performance.
Tjokorda told Bisnis Bali that by limiting cultural performance to local villages the multiplier effect for local economies would be enhanced through the resulting sales of handicrafts and refreshments.
Tjokorda told the press that he had outlined his idea to Bali's Governor, Dewa Beratha, who warmly endorsed his suggestions for improving the economic welfare of local artists groups.
According to Tjokorda, if something is not done to improve the lot of Bali's musicians and dancers, he is worried that the younger generation will have little interest in choosing the traditional performing arts as their profession.
No Treat for Dutch and Swedish Tourists
President Director of Panorama Tours Unhappy with Decision Not to Include Dutch and Swedish Nationals in the Visa on Arrival Eligibility List.
As reported on balidiscovery.com, [ Changes in Visa Policy on August 1, 2005] the government will add 14 more countries on August 1, 2005, to the list of those eligible to purchase a visa on arrival (VOA) at an Indonesian gateway.
Where's Sweden and Holland?
Two noticeable exceptions to the list of a total of 35 countries able to arrange a visa-on-arrival are Sweden and the Netherlands. Although reportedly lobbied to be included on the list by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Government apparently decided leave these two important source countries for Indonesian tourists off the list.
Not pleased with the political cold shoulder being given to Sweden and Holland, Satriyanto Titrawisata, President Director of the major Indonesian tour operator Panorama Tours expressed his disappointment, saying: "In fact, there's a potential for Dutch arrivals to Indonesia to increase every year. I am surprised why the government has crossed these two countries (Holland and Sweden) off the list for VOA. Is it possible that merely for political considerations a decisions been made to make business and tourism suffer?"
Speaking to the Indonesian-language Bali Post, Satriyanto explained that the Dutch are a long-standing traditional market for Indonesian tourism who stay in country for extended periods with relatively high levels of per diem spending. He lamented that the Government has seen fit to isolate itself from this market.
Meanwhile, Thamrin B. Bachri, the Deputy Minister for Capacity Building and International Cooperation from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism did not want to comments on why Sweden and Holland were eliminated from the VOA list, suggesting that question be directed to the Government.
Local tourism circles and the press have hinted that Holland is being barred for historical reasons and ill-will felt by certain individuals in the inner circle of Cabinet Ministers and Presidential Advisors towards the Dutch. Meanwhile, Sweden has reportedly been eliminated from the list as a result of the political sanctuary that country offers to leaders of the Aceh Independence Movement (GAM).
Dutch and Swedish tourist wishing to visit Indonesia must apply for the necessary visa in their home countries before commencing their journey.
It's a Shore Thing
Bali's Shore Lines Under Severe Threat of Erosion.
According to a report carried in the Indonesian-language daily Kompas the erosion of Bali's shoreline is at a critical stage.
Quoting, Nyoman Ray Yusha, the Head of the Project for preserving Bali's Southern Coast, more than 70 kilometers of Bali's 530 kilometers of coast line has been destroyed through erosion representing a real threat to the island's future as a premier tourism destination.
Speaking at a meeting in Denpasar on June 13, 2005, Ray, together with a shoreline consultant Sutarto Atmodjo, said that only 38 kilometers of Bali's shore line preservation is being managed – primarily in Bulelang, Tabanan, Sanur and Nusa Penida. The remaining shore areas, according to the two experts, remain neglected and are likely to suffer increasing damage over time.
Who's to Blame?
The experts pointed to nature and man as the main culprits to blame for shoreline erosion. According to Sutarto, mankind is due the lion's share of the blame as the result of shore-line coral destruction, uncontrolled sand mining, destruction of mangroves forests, and constructing buildings too close to the shore line. Because of this, both Ray and Sutarto called for more education of the people and enforcement of existing rules to preserve and protect Bali's beaches.
Both men said Bali needs a master plan to guarantee the future of the shore lines.
Minister Wacik Calls on Government to Speed Up Bi-Lateral Air Negotiations with Singapore.
Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, has warned the Government that if current negotiations to provide greater air access between Singapore and Indonesia are unnecessarily delayed, official targets to produce 6 million foreign visitors for the Country before the end of 2005 will be under threat.
As reported on balidiscovery.com, [SIA to Fly More Seats to Bali] principled agreements on a ministerial level has been reached that should eventually allow Singapore Airlines more seat capacity to their main Indonesian ports-of-call.
Quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, Minister Wacik said: "Clearly, (Singapore air access) influences heavily the number of tourist arrivals as Singapore is a gateway. Because of this, the air negotiations need to be accelerated." The Minister warned that the official target of 6 million foreign visitors for Indonesia for 2005 will be hard to achieve in the absence of a successful conclusion of Singapore air talks now underway.
Admitting that the final say so on air access was the sole prerogative of the Minister of Transportation, Wacik said his Ministry was still hopeful that additional seat capacity between Indonesia and Singapore would soon be realized.
Italian Travel Legend visits Bali
Founder or European Travel Empire Franco Rosso Makes a Family Visit to Bali.
The luxurious Kayumanis Private Villa at Nusa Dua hosted an lavish Italian dinner to honor the Honorary Consul of Italy in Bali, Giuseppe "Pino" Confesca, and selected friends at their Ristorante Piasan on Friday, July 8, 2005.
A sumptuous 9-course menu of traditional Italian cuisine accompanied by fine Italian wines were presented by the Resort's in-house Italian Master-Chef in the dynamic setting of the Resort's ultra-modern main dining room.
Special guests of honor for the evening were three generations of the Rosso family, lead by its patriarch and travel legend Franco Rosso. The founder of a world-wide travel empire encompassing travel, incentive and hotel companies – Mr. Rosso was in Bali to enjoy some quality time with his family and catch up with many friends and acquaintances on the island.
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