"I am writing to express my thanks for the professionalism and abilities of the support crew you assembled to work with us while researching and filming the effects of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Banda Aceh, Sumatra. I owe you a debt of gratitude to you and your staff for making this scientific mission a success."
Jose C. Borrero Ph.D Assistant Research Professor, University of Southern California
Stakeholders from Bali Tourism Board Hold Meeting with Bali Police Chief Inspector General Drs. Sunarko Danu Ardanto.
On Friday, January 27, 2006, representatives of the stakeholder organizations of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) joined the BTB Chairman, Bagus Sudibya, for an extended roundtable discussion with Bali's new Chief of Police, Inspector General Drs. Sunarko Danu Ardanto.
Appointed in late December to replace outgoing Bali Police Chief Made Pastika, General Sunarko has held a series of high-ranking jobs at regional police posts across Indonesia, including a period as National Police Spokesperson in Jakarta, before assuming the top law enforcement job in Bali.
In a more than two hour meeting, Bali's Police Chief exchanged ideas and information on a number of topics with Bali's tourism leaders ranging from general security, gambling, terrorism and community relations
Some of the highlights of General Sunarko's meeting with Bali's tourism leaders, included:
• The national crackdown on terrorist continues with numerous arrests over the weeks since the police shoot out and death of Malaysian terrorist Dr. Azahari on November 9, 2005. A number of those arrested for playing a role in the October 1, 2005 bombing have been transported to Bali where they are now undergoing active interrogation by police.
• The increasingly vigilant moves to combat terrorism in Bali include close and intensive coordination between the police, military and the various intelligence services of the Country now cooperating under a common umbrella of the Coordinating Body for Bali Security.
• General Sunarko's former role as a public spokesman for the National Police have left him a firm believer in the importance of an open and ongoing dialogue with the community. As a result, he pledged to continue to seek input – including both criticism and suggestions - from all levels of the community.
• Because Bali is a world class tourism destination, the Chief acknowledged the necessity of providing a high level of police service to Bali's many visitors. He warned that hotels found to be lax in protecting the security interests and safety of their guests face the possibility of losing their security accreditation.
• General Sunarko pledged that his department would not discriminate in the application of the law and all violators, both foreign and domestic, can expect to be brought to justice.
• The Bali police are prepared to work closely with all elements of the tourism community in providing security on a day-to-day basis as well as for special events and conferences in Bali. The police will also continue to play an active role in assisting BTB in communicating the many steps for improved security now in place in Bali to overseas markets and visiting press delegations.
• The Chief also touched on trans-national crime and its impact on Bali, exchanging information with the BTB delegation on the Internet, current specific problems in that area, and the Internet's role in promoting Bali.
As a continuance of the dialogue now commenced with the tourism community and BTB, General Sunarko accepted an invitation from BTB to soon schedule an informal lunch-time meeting with Bali's entire tourism community in order to further strengthen his connection with Bali's leading industry.
US$7 Million For Bali Tourism Recovery
After 4 Month Wait, Promised Recovery Funds for Bali Promotion About to be Released.
Patience and persistence is apparently going to be rewarded as the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) received confirmation on Thursday, January 26, 2005, that, after nearly 4 months of lobbying with the Central government in Jakarta, some Rp. 67 billion (approximately US$ 7.1 million) in special funding will soon be available for Bali's tourism recovery projects.
In a series of Jakarta meetings with Ministry of Culture & Tourism and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy that started just days after the October 1, 2005 terror attack, representatives of BTB have busily drafted detailed budget proposal and plans for various activities to hasten the recovery of the Island's tourism industry. Included in the proposed budgets are sums for the establishment of a BTB Press Center, advertising, overseas missions to key markets, and the hosting of press and travel industry educational trips to Bali.
During the January 26th meeting at the BTB office in Denpasar, Mr. Wardiyatmo, an expert staff on economic matters from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, confirmed that plans for the recovery funding have finally been approved by the Ministry of Finance with steps now underway within the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to establish the coordinating and control mechanisms required to oversee the fund's disbursement.
Depending on the nature of the various promotional activities included in the plan, funds will be made available either directly via the Ministry in Jakarta or through the Bali Tourism Authority - the government office charged with tourism matters in Bali.
This is Only a Test!
Full-Scale Emergency Preparedness Drill Staged at Bali's Airport.
Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport conducted another emergency drill on Friday, January 27, 2006; one in a series of regular drills conducted to test the ability of the Airport and related public safety units to respond in emergency situations.
Friday's drill was staged at the international departure terminal of the airport and involved the airport's security brigade, airport police and Bali's highly-trained emergency response police team.
The exercise began with the "identification" of a suspected explosive device in the airport prompting an immediate evacuation and "seal-down" of surrounding areas by police and airport security personnel. Within minutes fire fighting teams and ambulances arrived at staging areas, prepared to respond if the situation demanded it. Simultaneously, the Bali Police emergency response team's bomb squad arrived on the scene. While a team of officers made a larger sweep of the area for any additional suspicious objects, two experts wearing full protective clothing and carrying sophisticated equipment assessed the suspected bomb before removing it to a more remote location outside the terminal.
Every step of the drill was controlled and monitored from a hi-tech crisis center located in a secure location within the airport.
The entire drill was over in less than an hour with the response team getting a round of applause from tourists who witnessed the well-coordinated drill from a safe distance.
Similar drills, rehearsing a number of emergency scenarios, are now regularly undertaken by the Airport's Authority - Angkasa Pura.
Garuda Posts US$70.7 Million Loss for 2005
The Numbers Aren't Pretty for Indonesia's National Flag Carrier - Garuda.
Garuda Indonesia's unaudited losses for 2005 tallied in at Rp. 672 billion (approximately US$70.7 million) – an improvement over the US$ 81 million loss in 2004 – but hardly a cause for celebration at the debt-ridden airline which is unable to meet repayments on the more than US$1 billion it currently owes to its European creditor.
Quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, the Airline's President Director Emirsyah Satar balmed the losses on escalating fuel costs estimated to consume 30% of the airlines total routine expenditures, calculated at US$80 million each month.
In order to escape its current financial predicament Garuda is busily negotiating a rescheduling of its debts with major creditors; seeking a strategic international partner in order to enhance the Company's overall competitiveness; and hoping to launch an initial public offering (IPO) on the Jakarta Stock Exchange in order to raise some badly needed cash.
Garuda is also working to rationalize its business including reducing to three the total types of airplanes used in its fleet.
According to figures published by Bisnis Indonesia, the Airline has seen its current ratio decline from 0.96 to 0.60 since 2003 – reflecting the growing liquidity problems it now faces. Similarly, during the same 3 year period from 2003 – 2005, Garuda's debt-equity has worsened from 4.96 to the current worrisome 25.38.
With debts now totaling 25 times more than its net worth, finding suitors and investors may prove troublesome for Indonesia's National Carrier.
Ministry of Transportation Introducing Tighter Regulation of Nation's Aviation Fleet. Licenses of 3 Carriers Now Revoked.
Indonesia's Department of Civil Aviation has taken steps to increase the safety of the flying public by stipulating that jets operating in Indonesia cannot be older than 20 years dating from their date of original manufacture or have performed more than 50,000 take-off and landing cycles.
The ruling, contained in a formal decision of the Transportation Minister Hatta Rajasa, became law on January 16, 2006. The regulation applies to new aircraft registrations in Indonesia, with aircraft already in operation and registered with the Transportation Ministry exemoted and permitted to operate for a maximum 30 years or 70,000 take-off and landing cycles.
Under the new law, Indonesian air operators are now prohibited from leasing or purchasing jets older than 20 years and must cease to operate any new-purchase second-hand jets once they hit the maximum age limit.
The Indonesian-language daily Kompas estimates that of the present 300 commercial aircraft operated by 28 companies in Indonesia approximately 75% are older than ten years with some 41 aircraft currently on the Ministry's books having an age of 35 years.
Part of a Larger Revision of Air Rules
The Government is reportedly preparing a number of additional revisions in commercial air operation rules including increasing from 2 to 5 the minimum number of aircraft that a registered air operator must own in order to be allowed to continue air operations.
Once introduced, this requirement is expected to force a number of small local carriers in Indonesia to merge with other existing carriers in order to meet fleet minimums stipulated by the government.
Licenses of Three Airlines Revoked
The Ministry of Transportation has also announced the revocation of the operating licenses of three Indonesian airlines for failure to operate for a period of two weeks, grounds for termination of license under the current rules.
Having their wings clipped and now formally deregistered by the Ministry are are:
• Star Air
• Bouraq Airlines
• Air Paradise International
Under the rules of the Ministry, each of the above named airlines must receive three official notification letters after which, in the absence of a viable business plan presented to the Ministry, the airline's business license will be formally suspended. According to published reports in the Indonesian-language Kompas, Bouraq has received its third formal notification letter while Star Air and Air Paradise have just received their first warning letter.
FHT Bali 2006 & Retail Indonesia 2006
Food, Hotel, Tourism and Retailing Exhibitions Under a Common Roof at Bali International Convention Center February 9-11, 2006.
Bali International Convention Center (BICC) will play host to two important trade exhibitions February 9-11, as FHT Bali 2006 – Food, Hotel & Tourism operates side-by-side with Retail Indonesia 2006.
FHT Bali 2006
FHT Bali 2006 is the 5th annual international exhibition for equipment, food, beverages and services in support of the Indonesian tourism and hospitality industries.
In addition to stands featuring the latest food & beverage products and supporting technologies, a Salon Cullinaire will also be held during the course of the exhibition featuring competitions among young, talented hospitality professionals in a number of specialties including pastry and bread preparation; 5-course dinner planning and execution; ice carving; hot cooking; fruit and vegetable carving; table decoration and set up; and plated desserts.
Retail Indonesia 2006
Held simultaneously and in conjunction with FHT Bali 2006 will be the 4th annual exhibition of international retail technology, equipment, display and storage - Retail Indonesia 2006.
Both exhibitions will be open from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily from February 9-11, 2006, at the BICC
For more information visit the official web site of the show.
Efforts Underway to Have Bali's Kintamani Dogs Recognized as an Official Breed.
Bangli Regency officials are actively joining efforts by the Indonesian Cynologique Association (PERKIN) to have the unique long-haired breed of dogs found in Bali's hills near Kintamani accepted as an official and separate breed of canine.
Roughly resembling a Chinese Chow Chow, the Kintamani is indigenous to the Kintamani region of Bali. Lovingly loyal when reared by an attentive owner, the Kintamani is becoming an increasingly popular breed abroad for their high intelligence and suitability as watch dogs.
Indonesian dog fanciers and Bangli officials are lobbying hard to have the Kintamai registered by the Federation Cynologique Internationale as a recognized breed. Recent genetic testing have identified close markers shared by the Kintamani with the Bali Street Dog, the Australian Dingo and an American Kennel Club breed of Asian dog.
To help promote the Kintamani's international reputation annual competitions are held in Bangli to encourage careful development of the breed. In a recent press interview the Head of the Bangli Regency, Armawa, said he hope the eventual official recognition of the Kintamani breed would pave the way for the dogs to become a major export product from his regency, eventually rivaling Kintamani's trademark coffee and oranges exported from that cool hillside area of Bali.
Keeping Their Eye on Security
The People of Sanur Install Security Surveillance Systems.
While other talk, the people of Bali's Sanur Village Community spring into action.
In response to Bali's latest terrorist attack and calls from Bali's Chief of Police to enhance "community policing," the people of Sanur Community Village have begun independently installing CCTV surveillance cameras at key locations within their neighborhood.
Largely unseen by the tourist visitors frequenting the hotels, restaurants and shops that populate Sanur Village, cameras are now keeping an around the clock eye on beachside jogging tracks and main roadways around Sanur. The cameras are all centrally linked to the office of the Sanur Foundation where selected members of the 33-man Sanur Local Security Force will monitor and maintain constant contact with members of their team and local police authorities.
Part of a local community initiative using a 14 kilometer long fiber optic cable operated by a local firm - Bali Media Net, Sanur community leaders eventually hope to add more CCTV camera, create a community Cable-TV station and even allow people to view Sanur's underwater marine life via a 24-hour underwater camera.
Wounded Bali on the Road to Recovery
Column From Singapore's New Straits Times Reflects Life in Post Bombing Bali.
Johan Jaaffar, in a column published in the January 28, 2006 on-line edition of Singapore's New Straits Times, effectively used the economic hardship being experienced by three separate Balinese men – two artists and a souvenir shop owner, to demonstrate the difficulties of everyday life following the October 1, 2005, terrorist attack.
While sobering in its report of the devastating effects on the lives of the Balinese people, the column also reminds that fundamental issues of environmental and cultural preservation that existed prior to the latest bombing, and must still be addressed for Bali to retains its reputation as a leading cultural tourism destination.
Indonesia President and Vice President Visit Bali, Making a Special Point of Getting Up Close and Personal with the Island's Visitors.
Is Bali safe and a good place to visit?
Apparently, both Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Jusuf Kalla think so. During separate visits over the past week, Indonesia's #1 and #2 leaders made high profile visits to Bali demonstrating that they are genuinely "men of the people," at ease with the local security situation.
On Wednesday, January 25, 2006, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and First Lady "Ibu Ani" made an unannounced visit to Bali's Kuta beach area. For more than an hour the President and his wife strolled along Bali's most famous stretch of beach where they purchased souvenirs while chatting with foreign tourist, local shop owners, and beach masseuses.
Shaking hundreds of hands with both local and international visitors, the Susilo's happily obliged the many requests from tourists eager to have a photo opportunity with Indonesia's CEO. Apparently very much at ease with Bali's current security situation, the Chief Executive's security team appeared relatively relaxed as the President plunged into crowds of tourists along the beach and the throngs at Kuta's traditional market.
During his visit the President stayed at the Grand Bali Beach Hotel in Sanur.
In a separate visit to Bali on Thursday, January 26, 2006, Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla returned from Japan and a four country foreign tour on board a commercial Garuda flight. During the long flight from Tokyo to Bali the Vice President actively paced the aisles of the aircraft engaging in conversations with the pleasantly surprised Bali-bound passengers.
After a surprise inspection of the immigration services at Bali's airport, the president continued on to Jakarta, again using a commercial aircraft where he repeated his public contact foray, asking Jakarta bound passengers for feedback on their just completed visit to Bali.
Flying to Bali Just Got Cheaper
Budget Carrier Valuair Commences Service to Bali.
Valuair - the Singapore-based budget airline launched its thrice-weekly Bali service on Friday, January 27, 2006.
Valuair flies to Bali on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday with the following initial schedule:
• VF 541 will depart Singapore at 3:15pm arriving in Denpasar at 5:55pm.
• VF 542 and will depart Denpasar at 6:45pm, arriving in Singapore at 9:3o p.m.
Very Cheap Fares
Regular round-trip fares between Singapore and Bali will be sold by Valuair for S$ 199 (approximately US$ 122.40).
Neil Thompson, acting CEO of Valuair said, "Bali is an important destination for us. I've always been amazed that so many people have such a personal affinity with Bali that they're compelled to return again and again, yet they've not had the benefit of low airfares. With Valuair we're going to change the playing field to make Bali a destination that will enable travelers to keep their strong attachment to this beautiful island on a more regular basis."
Bali is the third Indonesian destination served by Valuair - they also fly to Jakarta and Surabaya.
Bookings on Valuair can be made directly on the airlines web site.
Special Bali Offers, Balinese Dances, Massage, Tattoos and Cooking Demonstrations on Offer at Perth Holiday & Travel Expo February 10-12.
A large contingent of Bali travel industry professionals are busy packing their bags in preparation for a trip to Perth, Western Australia, to deliver a promise of "Endless Summer" to their near neighbors – only a short three hour flight away from Bali.
19 Bali travel operators representing 16 Bali hotels and 3 tourist attractions will be in attendance at the "Bali Endless Summer" pavilion at the Perth Holiday and Travel Expo to be held at the Fremantle Ferry Terminal February 10-12, 2006. Working to restore Bali to its top position as Australia's most preferred overseas holiday destination, the Bali delegation will be promoting specially priced holiday packages from Perth to Bali from a pavilion where visitors will have the opportunity to win holidays in Bali, experience a Balinese massage, watch Balinese dance, get a temporary tattoo, view entertaining video presentations, and see a top chef from Bali demonstrate his skills.
Bagus Sudibya, Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board, who will be on hand in Perth to help launch the "Bali Endless Summer" campaign, believes "now is the time" for Bali to re-emerge on the Australian travel market. According to Mr. Sudibya, "millions of dollars have been spent by Bali hotels, restaurants and attraction to upgrade security for visitors to the island which is being rewarded by the recent increase in bookings for Bali for January and beyond reported by Western Australian travel wholesalers."
While the Perth Holiday and Travel Expo is open to the general public an "agent only" event as well and press conferences are planned during the 3-day visit by Bali's tourism leaders. The press conference will allow Mr. Gede Nurjaya, the Director of the Bali Tourism Authority and Mr. Sudibya to provide a detailed update on developments in Bali.
The links below provide access to the graphical version of the Bali Update.