Bali's Tourism Chief Says Booking Patterns Improving on a Daily Basis.
In a press conference held at the Bali Tourism Board Media Center to report on the just completed road show of top tourism officials to Japan in late October, Bali's Chief Tourism Officer, Gede Nurjaya, insisted that the tourism industry was now well and truly on the mend with new bookings supplanting the pattern of cancellations that appeared immediately after the October 1, 2005 bombing.
According to Nurjaya: "Since the tragedy of the October 1st bombing we have been directly acting to restore Bali's tourism. We have undertaken trips to Bali's main markets to explain Bali's situation following the bombing."
Nurjaya, who participated in the high-level delegation led by Bali's Governor to Tokyo, said that the Balinese delegation was warmly welcomed by both Japanese officials and members of that Country's tourism industry. The Japanese were reportedly keenly interested in additional, new security measures being introduced in response to the most recent bombings.
According to Nurjaya, one of the main goals of the Tokyo mission was to lobby the Japanese government not to increase the level of the current travel advisory issued to their nationals. If a travel advisory is elevated to the level of an official "warning," Japanese law then prohibits the sale and promotion of that destination to the public.
Speaking at the same press conference, Bagus Sudibya, Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), said he was moved by the concern and attention the Japanese press and public expressed for the people of Bali. According to Sudibya, while the Japanese do not blame the Indonesia for the terrorist attack of October 1st, they do wish to know what steps are being taken to increase the island's security. Sudibya also reported that preliminary talks were held with the Japanese on means to advance Bali's agricultural sector as a means of providing much-needed diversity to the local economy.
Also speaking at the press conference and just returned from Tokyo as part of Bali's delegation was Ms. Maikiko Iskandar, the President of Rama Tours, one of the island's most prominent in-bound Japanese tour operators. Ms. Iskandar told the press that new bookings are slowly beginning to flow into her agency and that she was hopeful that large group bookings would soon re-emerge to replace the many group bookings cancelled immediately after the bombing incident.
Rah! Rah! Rah! - Rooting for Truffles
Amandari Resort in Ubud Holds Festive Truffle Dinner Saturday, November 19, 2005.
Considered the king of all fungi, truffles can cost between US$800 to $1500 a pound with pigs, trained dogs and goats used to sniff out truffles growing underground beneath truffle oak trees.
Variously described as the diamond of cookery, fairy apple, black queen, gem of poor lands, fragrant nugget, black pearl, and by gourmets as the "holy of holy." Some connoisseurs even insist that truffles are an aphrodisiac.
Amandari Festive Truffle Dinner
Amandari Resort in Ubud is hosting a Festive Truffle Dinner in its Upstairs Restaurant on Saturday, November 19, 2005 at 7:30 p.m..
CARAMELIZED APPLE TARTLET - truffle honey ice cream
Valrhona Chocolate truffles
Price and Reservations
Cost for the evening is Rp. 550,000 plus 21% tax and service (approximately US$65.90) per person. Guests are welcome to bring their own wine without corkage charge or to purchase specially selected paired wines by the glass to accompany each course.
Reservations are essential and can be made by calling Putu Sudiari at ++62-(0)361-975333.
Indonesia Bird Flu Death Toll Stands at 4 with No reports of Human to Human Infection. No Human Infections Reported in Bali.
Growing global fears of the risk of a possible pandemic caused by Avian Flu or the H5N1 Virus has many travelers increasingly concerned now that the disease is confirmed in bird populations as geographically widespread as Indonesia, East Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom.
Bird Flu in Indonesia
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 7 confirmed cases of humans infected with H5N1 Virus have been confirmed in Indonesia, with 4 of those affected perishing. All clinical tests conducted indicate that no human-to-human transference of the disease has occurred in Indonesia, with each victim's illness traced back to close contact with infected poultry.
Human to Human Infection Still Very Rare
Experts are concerned that the much dreaded pandemic with the potential of killing large human populations could get its start as a mutation of the virus among human victims into a form easily transmittable from human to human. To date, only one case has been pinpointed showing probable person-to-person transmission associated with close contact between an ill child and her mother. That case is reported to have occurred in Thailand in September 2004.
CDC Advice to Travelers
The U.S.A.-based Center for Disease Control (CDC) has published a list of practical tips for international travelers visiting areas affected by H5N1 Avian Influenza on their website at [CDC Travel Advice] .
Among the advice offered to travelers include:
Vist their web site (link above) and educate yourself on the latest recommendations regarding H5N1 Avian Influenza and travel.
Keep up to date with all routine vaccination. Visit your doctor or health-care-provider 4-6 weeks before travel, to get any additional vaccinations or information you may need.
Assemble a travel health kit containing basic first aid and medical supplies. Be sure to include a thermometer and alcohol-based hand gel for hand hygiene. The CDC web site carries recommendations on how to compose a travel health kit.
Identify in-country health-care resources in advance of your trip.
Check your health insurance plan or get additional insurance that covers medical evacuation in case you become sick.
During travel to an area affected by H5N1 Avian Influenza the CDC recommends:
Avoid all direct contact with poultry, including touching well-appearing, sick, or dead chickens and ducks. Avoid places such as poultry farms and bird markets where live poultry are raised or kept, and avoid handling surfaces contaminated with poultry feces or secretions.
As with other infectious illnesses, one of the most important preventive practices is careful and frequent hand washing. Cleaning your hands often with soap and water removes potentially infectious material from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission. Waterless alcohol-based hand gels may be used when soap is not available and hands are not visibly soiled.
Influenza viruses are destroyed by heat; therefore, as a precaution, all foods from poultry, including eggs and poultry blood, should be thoroughly cooked.
If you become sick with symptoms such as a fever accompanied by a cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing seek qualified medical help immediately.
Some Useful Web Sites
Here are some web sites related to H5N1 Avian Influenza you may find useful:
Religious Ceremonies and Installation of Security Systems Mark Official Re-Opening of Jimbaran Beach Restaurants Closed by Bombings.
Traditional Bali-Hindu cleansing ceremonies - Tawar Balik Sumpah have been held over the space of two weeks at the sites affected by the October 1, 2005, terrorist attacks in Bali. Two very similar rituals, conducted one week apart, the first on Sunday, October 30th at the Raja Restaurant near Kuta Square and the second on Saturday, November 5th at Muaya Beach in Jimbaran, were held to both cleanse and balance the areas disrupted by the evil acts of terrorists. Led by Hindu religious leaders from both Bali and East Java, the ceremonies required a series of specific prayers and offerings be made - the latter including the sacrifice of buffaloes, goats, geese, chickens and other animals.
New Security Measures
With the required religious ceremonies completed, the sea food restaurants along the popular Jimbaran beach are now able to resume full operations.
Visitors to the popular dining area will, however, notice a number of security precautions and modifications in place as part of the response to the tragic bombing attack. Police and security guards who have completed a special training course are now on duty at the parking area in Jimbaran, inspecting all vehicles and their occupants. A steel security fence also now borders the road in Jimbaran, compelling diners to enter the restaurants through supervised gateways. Meanwhile, security guards and police are on duty monitoring pedestrians and diners accessing the restaurants from the seaside.
ALiLa Hotels & Resorts Do the Shuffle
ALiLa Hotels & Resorts Announce Promotions for Arjan de Boer and Amanda Pummer.
ALiLa Hotels & Resorts have announced two promotions at their two popular Bali Resort properties.
de Boer Goes to Head Office
Arjan de Boer, General Manager of the 56-room ALiLa Ubud, has been promoted to the role of Director of Technical Services, based at ALiLa's headquarters in Singapore.
Pummer In-Charge in Bali
Amanda Pummer, the General Manager of the 54-room ALiLa Manggis property on Bali's east coast, assumes the job of General Manager of the Ubud property and, in the process, is relocating her personal residence closer to the Ubud property. Pending the appointment of a new Manager for the Manggis property expected in early 2006, Amanda Pummer will be responsible for the management of both Bali resorts.
Two Chickens to Fight
Police Crack Down on East Bali Chicken Fights Results in Protests, a Burnt Police Station and 50 Arrests.
A Wednesday, November 2, 2005, raid by Bali police on illegal chicken fights in Menanga Village (Karangasem Regency), in which four gamblers were arrested, provoked a retaliatory demonstration by local villagers who attacked and burned the Rendang Police Station.
The public protests and attack on the police station, according to the local press, are believed to have been instigated by well-known gamblers in the area who provoked the villagers into sounding the traditional kul-kul wooden drum which rallied local villagers out of their homes and onto local streets shortly after the initial arrests.
Confronted by angry crowds and burning tires blocking roads in the area, the four suspects were transferred to the more-distant Amlapura police precinct while two truckloads of specially trained riot police were dispatched to the scene of the rioting estimated at its peak to have involved 1,500 local citizens. The reinforcements arrived in Rendang to find the police station burning after being attacked by the crowd.
Meanwhile, Bali's Police Chief Irjen Made Magnus Pastika, traveled to the scene of the civil altercation, vowing to stay on the scene to provide moral support to his men until the perpetrators of the attack on the station were arrested.
With detectives and 200 personnel from Bali's special police brigade arriving on the scene in the course of the evening, an initial 10 arrests were made. Commenting on those arrested in the Jakarta Post. Chief Pastika said, "each of them had been tasked with a specific job prior to the attack. One suspect was responsible for buying kerosene, another for buying firewood and there was even a suspect who confessed to having been tasked with buying and distributing food among the protesters."
In the course of the evening, 4 local village men were injured, reportedly by ricocheting bullets fired as warning shots by the police. Local villagers told the Indonesian-language Bali Post that the police station was razed by angry villagers only after seeing 4 of their neighbors had been wounded. Meanwhile, police officials claim the shootings were in accordance with procedure and occurred when villagers attacked a group of policemen leaving the scene to return to their barracks. No deaths were reported in connection with the shooting or the civil disturbance, with only 2 men still hospitalized 3 days after the incident.
In keeping with the Bali Police Chief's vow to crackdown on illegal gambling and deal decisively with anyone fomenting civil disorder and attacking police officers, a total of 50 people have been officially named as suspects in the incident and numerous arrests have been made. The original 4 of the 50 arrested will be charged with petty gambling offences, while it is expected the remaining 46 will face much heavier charges of public disorder and destruction of public property punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
The village where the incident occurred, Menanga, has been the subject of past gambling raids with police complaining that local villagers refuse to stop their illegal activities.
As of late Friday, the situation in Mananga had returned largely to normal with police on guard to ensure continued peace.
From Moscow with Love
Singapore Airlines Announce Plans to Fly from Moscow.
Subject to final approval by the Russian Federation's Aviation Authorities, Singapore International Airlines (SIA) will commence service from Moscow to Singapore by the middle of 2006.
The plans to provide a Moscow flight connection via SIA was announced by Senior Minister for Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, during his October visit to the Russian capital.
While final details remain to be worked out on routing and frequency for the new service, a Moscow-Singapore-Bali connection would represent an important strategic link for Bali with the lucrative Russian market and complement the introduction on August 1, 2005, of visa-on-arrival for Russian travelers.
In a related move, Thai International Airways also recently announced plans to commence a Moscow service from November 2005.
Russian travelers are expected to express strong demand for destinations in Southeast Asia, such as Bali, Phuket, Hanoi and Saigon, with peak travel seasons in December-January.
Price is Not a Handicap to this Game
Sheraton Laguna Nusa Dua Offer Golf Getaway Packages.
There's never been a better time to play golf at Nusa Duas Bali Golf and Country Club1
Now through December 25, 2005, and subject to availability, the Sheraton Laguna Nusa Dua Bali is offering a specially priced Golf Getaway Package.
Golf Getaway Package
Under the terms of this special golfing package you'll enjoy:
2 nights accommodation with an upgrade to a Deluxe Lagoon View Room.
Daily breakfast buffet.
Round trip airport transfers.
18 holes of golf at the adjacent Bali Golf and Country Club, including green fees, mandatory golf cart, and a caddy shared between two players,
An after-golf unwind of a 50-minute reflexology treatment plus a 10% discount on further spa treatments.
The price for the Golf Getaway package is US$397 for a single golfer and US$512 for two golfers. Rates include all the services and facilities stipulated and 21% tax and service.
Travel Industry Rates from US$65 Per Night Thru March 31, 2006, at the Bali Hilton.
The 538-room Bali Hilton International at Nusa Dua is offering members of the travel industry special discounts now through March 31, 2006.
Available exclusively to airline staff, travel agents, cruise employees, and hoteliers together with their immediate families rates start from US$65 nett per night for a Deluxe Garden View Room; US$80 nett per night for a Grande Garden View Room; and US$100 nett per night for an Ayodya Garden View Room.
Limited to a maximum 5 nights stay and strictly available only to travel industry members who must present identification at time of check-in, this special offer carries the following additional benefits and stipulations:
Rates include 21% tax and service and daily breakfast for single/double occupancy.
Welcome drink upon arrival
10% discount at all food & beverage outlets
10% discount at The Spa at The Bali Hilton
Upgrades to Ocean View Rooms available for an additional US$20 net per room per night.
A surcharge of US$55 net per room per night applies from December 24, 2005 through December 10, 2006.
A surcharge of US$35 net per room per night applies from January 27 February 5, 2006.
Information and Reservations
For bookings and more information telephone ++62-(0)361-771102.
Canggu Club Balis First Members Only Club is Now Accepting Applications for Opening in May 2006.
On Saturday, November 12, 2005, the office for Bali's first and only private international members club will begin accepting applications for membership.
Set on 3.5 hectares of land in Canggu, just 20 minutes from Seminyak near Pantai Berawa, in Banjat Tegal Gundul, the Canggu Club is scheduled to open in May 2006.
Combining lifestyle, sports, entertainment and recreational operations suitable to an entire range of age groups will form the cornerstone of the Club offering members the opportunity to mingle with other international and resident members and their families, invitations to special club events, and reciprocal club rights in selected clubs worldwide
To maintain the Club's exclusivity, private memberships will be limited to only 1,500 across four categories. Villa owners can secure memberships that permit them to promote additional facilities to their guests, companies can secure corporate memberships for use by their staff and families, with individual and family memberships also available.
The Club House is slated to open in May 2006, with restaurants, pub with pool room, pro shop and bars as well as a fully equipped air-conditioned gym that takes up almost one entire side of the clubhouse. The Gym will have state of the art fitness equipment and a separate fitness room for Pilates, yoga and aerobics. The lower level of the Club House will feature steam and sauna cabins, spacious locker rooms, a supervised toddlers' cr่che, and a tennis and squash center.
The Club also has an air-conditioned library and lounge providing all-day tea & coffee service, private meeting rooms, 150-seat indoor and outdoor Pandan Restaurant, Poolside Caf้ and Juice Bar and a sports bar - Tappers Pub.
Already well into development, the Canggu Club has completed or is nearing completion on the following facilities:
95m x 50 meter floodlit sports field year round competition.
50m x 60 meter Training Field
Bali's first indoor 30 x 20 meter Sports Hall for all ball sports, including 5-a-side soccer, basketball and badminton.
Teenagers Zone complete with movie room.
Adventure Playground and Splash Park with a waterslide and kiddies pool.
25 x 13 meter six-lane swimming pool.
The Membership office is located on Jalan Oberoi 95X, Seminyak (between Street Life Bar & Woodstock Bar). Telephone for more information ++62 (0)361 - 782 4180.
Westin Resort, Nusa Dua, Bali Re-Launch Their Newly Refurbished Ocean View Suites
The 353-room Westin resort, Nusa Dua, Bali have just re-opened their totally refurbished Ocean View Suites in time for the coming holiday peak season.
Designed to provide a premier holiday experience for those who wish to indulge and enjoy the island's turquoise coastline, the Suites set new standards in Balinese hospitality and d้cor. The ocean-facing suites are individually themed to showcase Bali's regions of Klungkung, Karangasem, Bangli, Celuk, Panglipuran and Tenganan. Four of the suites are one-bedroom while the remaining two suites are configured for two bedrooms. In fact, the two ground floor suites include such down to earth pleasures as plunge pools and private gardens. Each suite boasts broadband internet access and two 37-inch plasma screen televisions complete with a home theatre system. An extraordinary level of personal service and preferential treatment is offered, with exclusive privileges that include access to The Royal Beach Club Lounge, serviced by unobtrusive attendants 24 hours a day.
The Royal Beach Club Lounge guests can enjoy a secluded and relaxing environment, serviced around the clock, to suit to the body clock of guest arriving in Bali from any corner of the globe. From gourmet breakfasts, to light luncheons, pre-dinner cocktails and canap้s with a selection of beverages all are available at the Lounge throughout the day. Additional benefits include complimentary airport transfers, fresh fruits delivered daily to your suite, nightly turn-down with homemade chocolate treats, Molton & Brown bathroom amenities, complimentary laundry or pressing of 2 garments per guest per day.
Old Asian Hand and Respected Travel Operator Shares his Thoughts on the Ins and Outs of Selling Bali Holidays in the U.K..
Veteran travel operator to Asia from the U.K., David Kevan caught up recently with balidiscovery.com to discuss one of his favorite destinations Bali. The Managing Director of Tropical Locations, David has long been outspoken for a different approach in the way governments issue travel advisories.
Tropical Locations was recently named "best specialist operator for value" by the prestigious Cond้ Nast Traveller (U.K.) magazine.
The Interview: David Kevan of Tropical Locations
balidiscovery.com: David, you're a well known, long-standing supporter of Bali. On a practical business level, how have the bombings of 2002 and, most recently of October 2005, affected the size of your market to Bali and you ability to promote the island?
Kevan: Bali was doing superbly up to the bombings of 2002. Bookings were up, and just as important, client satisfaction with the destination was as close to 100% as you can reasonably expect. However once the UK Government came out with a negative travel advice, the bookings just fell away. We still carried a few clients, but these tended to be foreign nationals living in the UK, such as French and Spanish, and they were influenced by their own Foreign Office travel advice that said travel but be cautious.
Given what was going on in the world, with bombs in Spain, Morocco and Turkey - all of which had short term negative travel advice if at all - most of us could not understand why the restriction continued to be forthcoming on Bali as it seemed to make no sense. However from my personal point of view, it was political, as it was seen the Australians did have some unspecific warning on a possible attack and as our Government shared information with the Australians, by implication we knew as well. So as long as the Australians kept their advice in place, so did the UK. In the background of all this, you also had some possible legal action by the Australian survivors or relatives of the bombs, and I think this made our Government think more than twice about relaxing the advice.
balidiscovery.com: The UK recently modified the way their travel warnings are issued. How do you view travel warnings and how they serve the public and the travel industry?
Kevan: I began to get vibes in early 2004 that things were about to change. Both our PM and Foreign Secretary were being criticized in many quarters, and particularly from the Commonwealth, about the unfairness of our travel advice generally, and frankly I think they wanted to get it off their desks and into the area where the consumer made the final decision.
I attended several meetings on this, and each time you felt the revision was getting closer. I traveled back to the island in May 2004, and in a typical arrogant British way, I expected Bali to be empty, feeling that if we had not been coming, no one had. But what I saw was the reverse - the island was doing fantastically well, most hotels had moved on and found alternative markets, and far from the island looking depressed, it was in fine form, with several new hotels, many new restaurants.
The travel advice was eventually revised in late June, a little too late to attract the instant impulse purchase clients, as air fares in July and August are some of the highest in the year, however bookings did gradually improved in September and October. At the top end, our clients are aware of the seasonal weather variations, so arrivals in the period November to February tend to be low, even in a good year, and they start to pick up from March onwards. This is exactly what happened in 2005 - the first few months were quiet, but then gradually improved, and arrivals in July to September were almost back to 2002 levels.
Of course the bombs in October 2005 put a dent into this, and our thoughts have to go out to those who were injured or died. However the world has moved on since 2002 with so many disasters, either natural or through terrorism, and very few cities have escaped totally. So our Government could not come out with a negative travel advice on Indonesia, after pleading for tourists to still come to London, without appearing totally hypercritical. As a result we had just one cancellation, and that was because the wedding they were attending had been moved to Langkawi.
What we don't know is how many clients were considering Bali and then diverted, however given my earlier comment that the Up-market British client tends to ignore Bali in the winter months, I think the real impact was minimal. Yes arrivals in October to February will be low, but they always are.
Without putting our clients at risk, we are into building a relationship with hotels and destinations. We don't just cut and run and find a cheaper alternative when the going gets tough. Bali is an important part of our South East Asia product, particularly in the summer months when most of the region has a more unsettled climate, so I view summer 2006 with confidence.
balidiscovery.com: How do you view the fundamental long-term "brand equity" of Bali as compared to other Asian destinations?
Kevan: I think Bali is a superb destination. The quality of the hotels is outstanding, and the smiles are the most genuine and spontaneous in the region. And of the of course the culture - instant and so very attractive. The beaches are reasonable, although for me they would never be the reason for selecting Bali. You have good resort contrasts within the island. Kuta may not be to everyone's liking, but every island needs one resort like this, you just don't need lots of them. Nusa Dua is man-made, but as example of how it should be done, I think its a great example. I like Sanur, with its village style, although you have to explain that the beach here can be disappointing, so if sea bathing is important try Jimbaran instead.
balidiscovery.com: David, you're the expert. Describe for us your perfect Bali holiday.
Kevan: My perfect Bali holiday would very much depend on who I was traveling with, so have to be a bit careful here! I would certainly travel around the island combing different resorts and of course at least 3/4 days in one of the superb hotels in Ubud. Personally I like small boutique hotels with private pool villas, so that might influence my choice, although if accompanied by my more boisterous young son, I might select somewhere less breakable.
balidiscovery.com: How's the Bali product changed, for better or worse, over the many years of your experience with the destination?
Kevan: I have been coming to Bali for about 30 years, so I qualify for veteran status. Of course it has become more commercialized, and there are a few things in Kuta I don't like, but that could be as much to do with my advancing years as anything else. Personally I might now put a cap on the number of hotels, portray an even more exclusive image, and then move the prices up a fraction. One thing you have to stress is that whilst it has all become more commercialized, Bali is one of the few places that the real culture of the islands exists hand in hand with tourism, yet the very essence of the attraction remains very much intact.
balidiscovery.com: Finally, we have to ask, if you could have the ears of Bali's Travel Industry leaders, what sage counsel might you offer on how to promote and preserve their destination?
Kevan: There has been a lot of discussion about the lack of a tourist board in the UK, and this absence is sad. However a tourist office with no budget and the wrong personnel is probably even worse. You have to have both, a sensible budget for promotion and the right people. If Bali does not have the funds to look at this, or maybe the political inclination to break away - purely in tourism terms I hasten to add - then maybe the hotels have to look at appointing a UK representative who will act a tourism liaison, someone the press or clients can turn to in times of need. There are many individuals in the UK who would undertake this, and if the costs were shard by say ten hotels, the costs would be minimal.
Also you do need an airline that is committed to serving Bali and they need to be upfront with hoteliers on which markets are taking preference, so you on the island can plan your own strategy. For example, if Singapore Airlines decides the future is regional business rather than European, this would then influence the time your hoteliers spend on expensive sales visits here when they might get a better return traveling and promoting regionally. It's all about relationships, becoming sensible trading partners, working together.