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Bali News by Bali Update
BALI UPDATE #937 - 18 August 2014

IN THIS UPDATE


Indonesian Domestic Airfares Increase
Government Approves Surcharge on all Domestic Airline Tickets in Indonesia

The Government has agreed to a temporary increase in domestic airfares requested by the Indonesian National Air Carrier Association (INACA).

The increase was made necessary for Indonesian airlines to cover the cost of aviation fuel and compensate for the declining value of the Indonesian Rupiah against the U.S. dollar.

The Ministry of Transportation approved a passenger surcharge amounting to Rp. 60,000 (US$4.90) per hour flown on a jet and Rp. 50,000 (US$4.10) per hour on propeller-driven aircraft.

According to NusaBali, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry said the increase is temporary and will reviewed in relation to changing market conditions and rates of exchange.

INACA members have complained to the Government that current air fares tied to an old exchange rate of Rp. 10,000 to one US$1 was causing continuing losses to airlines working with an exchange rate that is now around Rp. 12,200 to US$1.

Airlines buy their fuels at rates linked to an international market price tied to the U.S. dollar.

For many Indonesian airlines, the costs of chartering aircraft, maintenance and the wages of foreign pilots are all costs equated in U.S. dollars.


Reserved for Customer Parking
Restaurant and Hotel Worker Banned from Parking the Length of Jalan Pantai Kuta

Following steps by police and parking authorities in Kuta to forbid workers from local hotels and restaurants from parking their cars along the entire length of Jalan Pantai Kuta, the prohibition has now been expanded to include to forbid motorcycles operated by workers from parking along the long one-way street that fronts on Kuta's fabled beachfront.

The move was taken due to complaints of frequent traffic jams along the road.

Now only motorcycles operated by visitors and tourists can park on the side of the road.

I Nyoman Nuryana from the Denpasar police traffic section told The Bali Post: "We held a meeting the hundreds of hotels and restaurant owners along Jalan Pantai Kuta at the Camat's office on Thursday, February 6, 2013. After we explained the legal basis and need for the ban on parking, the owners agreed to create parking areas for their employees. If there are those that violate the rules we will ticket them."

After the Bali police conducted a detailed survey of traffic congestion along the popular beachfront they concluded bottlenecks were due less to the number of vehicle parked and more because of the poor organization of parking.

Justifying the change in the rules, Nuryana explained that if the traffic congestion problem was not addressed the hotel and restaurant owners would be the ones to finaly suffer as customers chose to avoid coming to Jalan Pantai Kuta.

Related Article

Violators will be Ticketed


No Ifs, Puffs or Butts About It
Bali Governor Threatens Shutdown of International Tobacco Exhibition in Bali Scheduled for February 27-28, 2014

NusaBali reports that Bali's Governor Made Mangku Pastika is taking a strong stand on banning smoking in Bali, threatening to close down Inter-Tabac Asia - a major international tobacco product exhibition scheduled in Bali February 27-28, 2014.

The lack of a response from the German operators of Inter-Tabac Asia to a letter written by the Governor has seemingly angered Pastika who told a public meeting on Sunday, February 9, 2014: "We'll close it (the exhibition). How can they be so old as to violate the law?"

The Governor told a meeting held to raise fund for recent natural disasters in Indonesia, that it is well known that smoking is a danger to health and Bali had already passed Provincial Law Number 10 of 2011 on Smoke-Free Zones. Adding, "It not possible that now we have a provincial regulation that we want to break our own rules."

Governor Pastika has written to the organizers of Inter-Tabac Asia, based in Germany, advising his refusal for the exhibition and conference to be held in Bali.

Earlier the deputy-governor of Bali, Ketut Sudikerta, had stated: "We have recommended to the organizers to move the international tobacco exhibition from Bali. We have suggested the event be moved to East Java, Central Java - areas where tobacco is cultivated."

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A Hair of the Dog
Buleleng, Bali Records Second Rabies Death in January with Death of a Seven-Year-Old Boy

A 7-year-old boy in Buleleng, North Bali has died of suspected rabies.

The Bali Post reports that Kadek Rianata from the Village of Suwug in the Sawan sub-district of Buleleng died at the Buleleng General Hospital on January 25, 2014. The boy had suffered a dog bite at his home one month before on December 17, 2103.

In an unusual development, the press reports that the boy's father who was more severely bitten by the dog sought and received anti-rabies serum, but the boy's parents did not bother to seek similar treatment for their son.

Local villagers, precluding a chance for health officials to run tests to confirm the dog had died of rabies, disposed of the dog’s carcass.

The untreated 7-year-old boy fell sick one month after he was bitten and was hospitalized for suspected rabies for two days before his death on January 25th.

Typically, once the clinical symptoms of rabies have manifested themselves in a patient no amount of medical attention can prevent the disease from taking its fatal course.

Earlier another Buleleng resident Nyoman Swastika (46) died on Saturday, January 4, 2104 from rabies after being bitten by a local puppy.

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Numerically Significant
Bali by the Numbers: Bali Ends 2013 with a Record 3.278 million Foreign Visitors

Bali final foreign arrival figures for December 2014 are now in hand showing total foreign visitors for all of 2013 reached a record 3,278,592 - an increase of 13.37% over the 2,892,019 international tourists who came to the Island in 2012.

Image to Enlarge

For the month of December 2014, Bali counted 299,013 foreign visitors - an increase of 11.55% over the same month one year before.

If Bali manages to sustain this rate of growth over the course of 2014, the Island will record 3.66 million foreign tourist arrivals. Meanwhile, tourism officials have projected 3.5 million foreign tourists and 6.5 million domestic visitors for 2014.

k Image to Enlarge

Australia continued to lead foreign arrivals to Bali in 2012 with a 25.21% market share of 826,385 visitors. Worrying signs from Australia suggest that market may have stagnated with 2013 arrivals nearly equal to 2012.

Meanwhile, Chinese visitors increased 24.65% to Bali in 2013, totaling 387,533. Expect that number to grow in 2014 because of new direct flight services recently introduced between Bali and the PRC.

k Image to Enlarge

Japan arrivals, declining to Bali over most of the past decade, are now staging a turnaround. 208,115 Japanese visited Bali in 2013, up 8.49% over the previous year.

ASEAN neighbors Malaysia and Singapore both recorded double-digit growth in arrivals to Bali in 2013.

Taiwan rebuilt lost steam from a massive dip in visitor totals in 2012, growing 32.03% in 2013 with 126,914 visitors to Bali.

France, Germany, the U.S.A and the Netherlands are also showed strong double-digit growth in Bali arrivals in 2013.

Less compelling, however, were Russian arrivals that increased by only 1.89% in 2013.

India emerged as a player in Bali tourism in 2013 with 64,578 visitors, increasing a whopping 38.48% over the previous year. India now ranks as the 14the largest source of visitors to Bali.

Markets to Watch

New emerging international markets to watch in 2014 are India (+38.48%), Hong Kong (+36.41%), the Philippines (+54.39%) and Italy (+41.23).


Martial Arts on the Menu
Manager and Owner of Feyloon Chinese Restaurant in Bali Sentenced to Six-Months Prison for Criminal Assault

In the lengthy trial of the foreign owner and general manager of the Feyloon Chinese Restaurant in Kuta, Bali for their criminal assault on a Bali travel agent, Frederick Wong Yu Fai (45) and Wong Fei Wah (45) were both sentenced to 6 months imprisonment by the Denpasar District Court on Thursday, February 6, 2014.

The sentence handed down by the court was 2 months less than the 8-month jail term sought by State Prosecutors.

As reported by NusaBali, the presiding judge in the case, Sugeng Riyono, declared that both men had been proven to have assaulted Hendra Haryanto resulting in minor injuries in an August 4, 2013 attack in a parking lot across from their restaurant.

The judge said the failure of the two men to admit their crime weighed against them in the final sentencing of the court, while the court took their polite demeanor and the fact that they had never been convicted of a past crime in the defendant’s favor.

The lawyer for Haryanto who was attacked by the two men protested the verdict, saying the Court's verdict lack compassion or a sense of justice.

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Bali's Price War Escalates
PHRI Vows to Review Pricing Policies of Starred Hotels in Bali

The Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali) has said it will review the way in which star ratings are given in an attempt to stem an unhealthy price war now underway amongst hotels on the Island.

Quoted by The Bali Post, Ferry Markus the secretary-general of PHRI-Bali,said: "We will be looking at the rates charged by starred hotels. Let's not let starred hotels sell their rooms below standard using strategies that kill other businesses."

Markus explained that many hotels are now under-priced, pushed by heavy competition from the uncontrolled increase in room supply. Proof of this, he claims, is found in the fact that starred hotels in Bali recorded an average occupancy of 56% in 2013, down from over 60% in 2012. This decline in occupancy happened at the same time when the total number of foreign visitors to Bali increased 13.37%. This anomaly of decreasing occupancies when tourist numbers are growing can only be explained, said the PHRI official, due to the sudden growth in total rooms.

"If new hotels advertise special promotional rates that's understandable. But if these special promotional rates are still being offered two years after opening, an unhealthy competitive situation will be created. What's more, once tariffs are cut they are difficult to raise again. Eventually this affects returns that are not matching the size of the investment," said Markus.

Markus continued saying occupancies in the early days of 2014 are averaging below 50% and inadequate to cover the operating costs of hotels. Higher occupancy rates at low room rates below standard will not help the bottom line.

The deputy chairman of PHRI-Bali Nyoman Suwidjana admits that the new supply of rooms far outstrips any increase in demand. This situation has resulted in an imbalance in how hotels are being managed and operated in Bali.

"The oversupply of rooms is affecting hotel room rates. This can threaten Bali's tourism industry. Room rates that are already too low will be put under further pressure, said Suwidjana.

Cannibalism

He went on to explain that the current over-supply situation can lead to "cannibalism" where new hotels seize the long-held markets of small hotels owned by the Balinese. "Hotels owned by locals have long contributed to Bali tourism. Now new hotels owned by outsiders are threatening local businesses," he added.

PHRI breaks down the current situation saying that while arrivals have increased by more than 10%, new hotels room have increased by more than 15% during the same period. Given the current number of hotel rooms now on sales in Bali, PHRI says occupancies will only recover to 70% when foreign tourist arrivals exceed 4 million.


Fighting for Tourism Funding
Tourism Industry Must Join Forces for More Government Funding of Tourism Promotion

The chairman of the Indonesian Congress and Convention Association (INCCA), Ida Bagus Surakusuma (Lolec), has called on the Indonesian Tourism Association (GIPI), the Bali Tourism Promotion Board (BPPD) and all tourism stakeholders to join the battle for more tourism promotion funding from the government.

As reported by Bisnis Bali, Lolec revealed that the BPPD has calculated that Bali needs a minimum of Rp. 20 billion (US$1.64 million) to promote Bali in 2014. Meanwhile, the provincial government of Bali has allocated only Rp. 1.5 billion (US$123,000) in promotional funds for this period,

Lolec acknowledged that the provincial government is giving other social and humanitarian program a higher priority than expenditures for tourism promotion. At the same time, he insists, the importance of developing Bali's tourism can not be ignored.

He called on BPPD to generate detailed budgets and proposal to be reviewed by the provincial and national Houses of Representatives (DPRD-Bali and DPR RI). Budgeting proposals need to be put forward far in advance for consideration and study by legislative bodies or risk being considered late in the budgetary process, leaving only small surplus amounts to be spent on tourism promotion.

Once sufficient funds are put in hand, Lolec said, these monies must be used wisely and transparently to avoid any suggestion of corruption.


Candles on Standby
Bali in Danger of Blackouts February 12 - April 2, 2014

A spokesman for the State Power Board (PLN) is denying reports in the Bali press that repairs taking place on the power generating station at Gilimanuk in West Bali will result in temporary power black outs for some sections of the Island.

The PLTG Gilamnuk plant capable of generating 130 megawatts of power has been running continuously for 24,000 hours or 1,000 days and is now in need of a major overhaul.

During the repair and maintenance period, Bali's power grid will be operating at critical limitations, but Wayan Redika of PLN rejects suggestions that power outages will occur. "We still have enough power to overcome the situation of PLTG Gilimanuk's shutdown for repairs," he said.

To meet any possible shortfalls in power PLN has rented a temporary generation unit placed at Pesanggaran in South Bali capable of producing 60 megawatts.

Redika ceded that blackout could occur if Bali suffers high temperatures precipitating high usage levels for air conditioning units.

Bali will be at risk of black outs for 50 days from February 12 until April 2, 2014 while repairs are undertaken on the Gilimanuk power plant.

Without the Gilimanuk plant in operation, Bali's power grid is still capable of supporting 670 megawatts, a total just short of the 690 megawatts on standby during the repair period.


Making Indonesia Competitive in Tourism
Indonesia Becoming More Competitive in Tourism, But Still Lags in Comparison to Near Neighbors

The 2013 edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) has placed Indonesia in 70th place among all nations in terms of tourism competitiveness.

This ranking has seen Indonesian advance four places from its ranking in 2012.

Indonesian Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy, Mari Elka Pangestu, revealed the latest WEF rankings during a recent televised talk show. The Minister lamented that while Indonesia had managed to improve its position by four places to #70, the Republic still compared poorly to its near neighbors of Singapore (#10), Malaysia (#34) and Thailand (#43).

"Indonesia excels in the areas of natural resources (ranked #6) and value-for-money (ranked #9)," said Pangestu.

The Minister was pleased that Indonesian arrivals improved 9.42% in 2013 with a total of 8.8 million foreign visitors. This total number of Indonesian tourists is credited with generating US$10.5 billion in foreign exchange earnings, an improvement of 10.32% over 2012.

Domestically the Minister counts 248 million domestic trips undertaken in 2013 spending Rp. 154.7 trillion, a total almost twice the value of foreign tourists.

Tourism as a whole represents Rp. 347.35 trillion in value or 3.8% of Indonesia's Gross Domestic Product. At the same time, the national tourism sector creates 10.8 million jobs or 8.89% of the national work force.


High Stake Games
Bali to Spend US$164 Million on Sporting Facilities to Win Hosting Rights for 2020 National Sports Week (PON).

The provincial government of Bali will budget Rp. 2 trillion (US$164 million) to serve as host for the 20th National Sporting Week (PON 2020).

"This amount will the taken from the provincial budget. This will be done in installments over time because the preparations cannot be completed in a single financial year," explained the deputy-governor for Bali, Ketut Sudikerta on Thursday, February 13, 2014.

Sudikerta, quoted by NusaBali, told the press that he was confident that hosting PON in Bali would bring many benefits to the tourist island. "If Bali is chosen (as PON host) there will be additional funding from the Central Government to undertake repairs and upgrades of sporting venues," he said.

One of the projects included in the Rp. 2 trillion expenditures will be for the construction of an international standard stadium at Pecatu in Jimbaran. The stadium project will commence in 2015 with physical construction to start in 2017.

Sudikerta continued, "In addition to the stadium, we will also be undertaking repairs at all sporting venues to be used for PON XX in 2020."

The deputy governor acknowledged that other provinces in Indonesia might also enter the race to be selected as host for the 2020 games.

Current plans are to include wide areas of Bali in hosting the games by conducting horse races in Jembrana, sepak takraw in Buleleng and water sports in Tabanan.

An advance inspection team comprised of 18 people arrived in Bali on February 13, 2014 to visit proposed sporting venues in Bali.

The PON Games are held once every four years.

The 2016 games will take place in Bandung, West Java.


A Pet Project
North Bali Officials Ask Local Citizens to Act Responsibly in Efforts to End Rabies Deaths

Agricultural and Livestock officials in Buleleng, North Bali continue to pursue mass vaccination of dogs and the elimination of stray dogs in order to curb rabies infections following two human deaths connected with that diseases in January 2014.

Buleleng officials are also calling on local residents to act responsibly in the care and maintenance of their pets, particularly when their dog bite a community member. Resident are asked to keep their dogs in confined areas or on a leash enabling officials to vaccinate pets and identify free-roaming dogs for possible extermination.

The most recent death of a 7-year-old boy, Kadek Rianata, in the village of Suwug in Buleleng due to rabies has not uncovered a corresponding animal in that village suffering from rabies.

While officials have tested village dogs, no case of rabies has been discovered. The dogs that villagers killed had bit the boy but had its carcass disposed of before health officials could undertake rabies tests.

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Out of Africa, Into Bali
South African Busted Smuggling Methamphetamines into Bali

The State News Agency Antara credit customs officials at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport with thwarting the smuggling of 1.54 kilograms of methamphetamines into Bali.

The drugs were in the possession of a 58-year-old South African Henri Lubbe when he landed in Bali on a flight from Hong Kong mid-day on Sunday, February 9, 2014.

Customs officials suspect the man is connected to a Nigerian drug syndicate.

Customs officials place a street value of Rp. 3 billion (US$245,000) on the narcotics found in the personal luggage of Lubbe.

Lubbe told police that he had been compensated with a Bali holiday in return for his agreement to act as a mule in the transport of the drugs.

Police say Lubbe will be charged under the Indonesian anti-narcotics law with a possible maximum penalty of 20-years.


Separation of the Sexes
Bali Airport Introduce Separate Security Inspection Lines for Departing Male and Female Passengers

The management of Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport has introduced a trial separation of the sexes in the x-ray process for all luggage and personal inspection.

The “girls-left” and “boys-right” process was introduced on January 28, 2014 for passengers departing Bali on both domestic and international flights.

Angkasa Pura officials say the new measure is intended to reduce crowding and bottlenecks during the inspection process.

Meanwhile, some passenger are complaining that the new procedure is confusing, separates family and creates confusion on the location of specific pieces of luggage.

Airport officials say the new policy is subject to review over time.
 


Mt. Kelud Eruption Update
Airports on Java Start to Resume Operations Two Days After Massive Explosion of East Java’s Mt. Kelud

Wuryastuti Sunario, who is the editor and adviser to the Indonesia.travel website, has provided Balidiscovery.com the following information and an update on the explosion of Mt. Kelud in East Java

At 22.50 West Indonesia Time on Thursday, February 13, 2104, Mt. Kelud, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, erupted violently spewing 10- kilometer of smoke and volcanic material into the atmosphere. Located in East Java, a densely populated province, Mt. Kelud is surrounded by the cities of Blitar, Kediri, Malang. Malang and Bata - panoramic hill resorts popular with domestic and international tourists alike.

Exploding during wind conditions known as the “westerly’s” the first areas covered by rains of ash and gravel were the towns of Blitar and Kediri. Within hours, the fallout had spread to Yogyakarta and Solo– more than 200 kilometers away from the mountain.

By 10 am Friday, February 14th, the airports of Surabaya and Malang in East Java, as well as airports in Yogyakarta and Solo were closed as runways became covered with over 3 centimeters of ash and gravel. The Borobudur temple, near Magelang, has been closed indefinitely to visitors with protective plastic covers placed over some of the monuments ancient statuary.

Because Mt. Kelud had been afflicted by earthquakes for weeks prior to Thursday’s major explosion, authorities had closed off a radius 5 kilometers from the crater, declaring it as a "danger zone" and had raised the warning status to Alert (stage III). With Thursday night’s eruption, the danger zone was extended to a 15-kilometer radius and Kelud’s status raised one level to “Awas” or stage II. Accordingly, the local population was removed to prepared evacuation centers located over 30-kilometers from the mountain.

The second day after the violent eruption, February 15th, Mt Kelud’s explosions had abated somewhat, although still showing high activity. Chief Volcanologist, Surono, said people were still prohibited from venturing into the danger zone of a 10-kilometer radiuss from the crater, given the possibility of dangerous pyroclastic clouds. “Let us learn from the recent tragic lesson at Mt. Sinabung in North Sumatra, where 17 people died within the danger zone (killed) by a searing hot cloud after Sinabung exploded, thinking it was already safe,” advised Surono

Meanwhile, Director General of Civil Aviation, Herry Bakti S. Gumay, told METROTV that his Ministry has issued a NOTAM (notice to airmen) closing Indonesian airspace to all air traffic flying below 2000 feet over East and West Java. International flights flying over 2,000 feet are considered safe from encountering any volcanic effluent.

By mid-day Friday, February 14, 2014, cities as far away as the southern part of West Java, including Cilacap and Pangandaran, were reporting fallout of sand pouring down on their areas.

Declaring a force majeure situation, airlines flying to Yogyakarta, Solo, Surabaya and Malang were cancelled on Friday, February 14th. By Saturday, February 15th, airports at Surabaya, Bandung and Cilcacap resumed at least limited flight operations.

By Saturday, February 15th, 4 of 7 airports on Java that were closed to air traffic following Mt. Kelud’s eruption resumed operations. These include: Surabaya, Bandung , Malang and Cilacap . Yogyakarta's airport is expected to reopen only on Tuesday, February 18. Solo's airport is expected to be operational on Monday, February 17th, with Semarang's reopening date still under consideration.

Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport have remained operational without any interruption.

More than 300 flights were canceled to and from cities affected by the eruption.

Mt. Kelud Explosion Background

Mt.Kelud's most recent explosion has spewed no less than 150 million cubic meters of volcanic materials into the atmosphere in the 24-hour period following its initial eruption. This roughly equals emission from Mt. Merapi, - the other active volcano in Central Java - that ejected 200 million cubic meters that it spewed during a month long period in 2010.

Authorities report that over 76,000 people had been evacuated from the 10-kilometer radius declared a “danger zone” and have received shelter, food and necessities at 172 evacuation centers towns across East Java.

The head of the Blitar district said that evacuation proceeded in a fast and relatively orderly way, since it had been well prepared through close coordination among relevant disaster agencies, including the Army and the Police.

Three fatalities have been reported killed in the district of Malang, east of Mt. Kelud. One person died when hit by the roof of a house that collapsed under the weight of volcanic materials, while two persons died after inhaling volcanic ash. Authorities continue to warn that volcanic ash is dangerous contains silica - minute, sharp glass particles invisible to the naked eye, but dangerous when inhaled or when it comes in contact with the naked eye.

President Yudhoyono convened a cabinet meeting on Friday, February 14, 2014 to coordinate all emergency relief.

As a precautionary measure Virgin Australia cancelled its flights in an out of Bali on Friday and Saturday, February 14-15, 2014.


A Failure to Reemerge
Seven Japanese Divers Missing Near Nusa Penida, Bali

International press reports that rescuers have recovered 1 body among 7 Japanese women divers  missing after a diving excursion to Crystal Bay, located a short distance off the southern shore of Bali were apparently in error with search and rescue authorities reporting they continue to search for 7 missing divers.

Missing are Ritsuko Miyata (59), Emi Yamamoto (33), Nahomi Tomita (28), Aya Morizono (27), Atsumi Yoshinobe (29), Shoko Takahashi (29), and Saori Furukawa (27).

While details remain sketchy, the croups went missing on Friday, February 134, 2014 at around 1:00 pm. Conditions were said to be rainy and windy at the time.

Searchers from the National Search and Rescue Agency (SAR), Water Police and the boatmen from the vessel that carried the divers are continuing the search aided by a helicopter and fast boats.

The seven divers were brought to Blue Corner, a popular dive spot at Nusa Lembongan by Ocean Express. The divers failed to reemerge on the surface at the end of the dive.

The alarm for the missing divers was only raised at 7:00 pm on Friday, after darkness had already descended on the area.


Garuda to the Rescue
Garuda Indonesia Gives Full Refunds and Schedule Changes without Charge for Passengers Affected by Mt. Kelud Explosion

Garuda Indonesia has promised 100% refunds to all passengers who were unable to fly due to the temporary closure of airports and suspension of flight connected to the explosion of Mr. Kelud in East Java.

At the height of Mt. Kelud’s explosion, a total of 7 airports were temporary closed and disrupted hundreds connecting flights to and from the affected airports.

Garuda is providing 100% refund on all affected flights and not impose penalties for rescheduling existing flights.


Sleeping Rough
Hundreds of Passengers Stranded at Bali Airport February 14-15, 2014 Due to Mt. Kelud Flight Disruptions

The explosion of Mt. Kelud on the night of Thursday, February 13, 2014 disrupted hundreds of flights across Indonesia as 7 airports temporarily closed and hundreds of connecting fights were cancelled.

In Bali flight disruptions saw massive displacement of passengers on Friday, February 14, 2014 at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Passengers reporting for flights that had been cancelled filled all the available chairs with floor space also occupied by sleeping passengers.

With airlines monitoring changes in flight conditions on an hour-by-hour basis, many passengers chose to wait at the airport as many flight services returned to normal over the weekend.

The State News Agency Antara reports that 43 scheduled domestic flights were cancelled at Bali’s airport while Virgin Airlines suspended international flights to and from Australia starting from Friday, February 14, 2014.


Name Calling
Singapore – Indonesian Diplomatic Relations Turn Sour. Will Tourism be Affected?

Singapore-Indonesian relations are going through a rough patch at present with leaders from both nations giving each other the cold shoulder.

Whether relations will decline further and be felt in tourist visits between the countries remains to be seen.

Singapore arrivals to Bali ranks as the 5th most important source of foreign visitors totaling 138,388 visitors to Bali in 2013, an increase of 14.39% over 2012. Meanwhile, Indonesia is the largest source of tourism visitors to the Island Republic.

The current ill will in Indonesian-Singapore relations quite literally relates to "name calling" - the Indonesian decision to name a new naval frigate the Usman Harum  in recognition of two Indonesian military offices who were hung in 1968 by Singapore for the bombing of a business place in Singapore on March 10, 1965, that left 3 dead and 33 injured.

The bombing took place in the waning days of the Soekarno regime and its “konfrontasi” opposition to the short-lived unification of Malaysia and Singapore.

The two marines sent to perform the bombing are seen as “heroes” in Indonesia and buried side-by-side at the Kalibata National Heroes Cemetery. Oblivious to the fundamental shift in power and idealogiy underway in Jakarta at the time, Singapore steadfastly refused repeated pleas for clemency from Indonesia’s “New Order” leaders and hung the two men on October 17, 1968.

The resulting period of chilly relations between Singapore and Indonesia only turned a new page four years later in 1972 when Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, on an official visit to Indonesia, paused to pay respects at the graves of the two men in Jakarta.

Singapore’s current indignation with Indonesia’s decision to name a ship after two men seen as terrorist by Singaporeans, has seen public statements of protest emanate from Singapore, the indignant “unfriending” on Facebook by Singapore’s Prime Minister of Indonesian President Yudhoyono, and a formal notice from Singapore's Armed Forces that the Usman Harun would never be allowed to sail in Singapore waters.

Indonesian military circles have responded, scolding Singapore, saying how Indonesia decides to honor fallen heroes was an entirely domestic concern.

In what may been an ill-considered step by Singapore to demonstrate its indignation with Indonesia, an invitation to General Moeldoko, Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces and a following contingent of 100 officers to the Singapore Air Show was abruptly withdrawn by Singapore authorites,

Later, Singapore on reconsideration renewed their invitation to Moeldoko who responded by saying if his men weren’t welcome in Singapore, then he had no intention of accepting Singapore's on-again-off-again invitation to the Internaitonal Air Show.

Moeldoko also took the opportunity to explain to Singapore, via statements made to the press, that Indonesia had no desire to reopen old wounds in naming the new frigate Usman-Harun, but at the same time viewed Singapore’s reaction of withdrawing invitations to 100 of his officer to the Singapore Air Show as an over-reaction.

It now remains to be seen when relations between Singapore and Indonesia will once again thaw and if current animosities will affect two-way tourism flows, and which side will make the first steps towards rapprochement.


Lost at Sea
Balinese Cook on Celebrity Cruise Constellation Presumed Missing at Sea in Gulf of Mexico

A Balinese cook working on board Celebrity Cruise Lines’ Constellation is presumed lost at sea.

I Nyoman Bagiada (45) was seen falling into the ocean at 2:27 am on January 29, 2014, while the ship was returning on a 5-day cruise from Cozumel, Mexico to homeport in Port Everglades, Florida.

The circumstances on why or how the man fell from the ship remain unclear. A pair of shoes were found next to the deck railing where the CCTV footage showed the man falling into the ocean.

Hours passed before the alarm was raised for Bagiada’s disappearance with Coast Guard authorities ony receiving the report at 10:30 am, 8 hours after his disappearance.

A search helicopter and a rescue cutter were dispatched to search without success for the man in the Yucatan channel, between Mexico and Cuba.


They are Watching Her, From a Distance
Schapelle Corby Finds Life Outside Prison Loaded with Restrictions and Threats of Possible Re-imprisonment.

After nine years in a Bali prison for transporting drugs, Schapelle Corby walked out the wall of Kerobokan prison on Monday, February 10, 2014 into phalanx of hyper-active press.

Wearing a self-styled veil to prevent photographers from capturing her image, Corby rushed to a waiting van that took her the offices of State Prosecutor to sign documents governing her parole to be spent in Bali until mid-2017.

While original plans were for the 36-year-old Australian to spend the more than 2-year period of parole in a multi-family compound in Kuta together with her sister Mercedes and her Balinese husband, a last minute change-of-plans sent Corby to luxuriate in the luxury Sentosa villas in Seminyak.

Press reports indicate that Mercedes has separated from her husband who also serves as Schapelle guarantor to prison authorities during the parole period.

Australian media reports Schapelle will been paid millions for an exclusive interview with Australian TV, news that has prompted a message from the Indonesian Ministry of Justice strongly discouraging Corby from undertaking the interview or any other act like to cause “public unrest” or displease the Indonesian people.

Separately, Queensland authorities are seeking to prevent Corby from profiting from her criminal acts by selling her story to the media.

Life “on the outside” for Schapelle Corby is shaping up to be populated with difficulties that, if not negotiated with great care, could send her back to prison, including:
  • Schapelle Corby may have to forgo offers of substantial payments for “her story” or risk angering Indonesian authoriies and her parole officer who could revoke her parole at any time.
  • Indonesian law forbids Schapelle Corby from undertaking any employment, paid or unpaid, without first obtaining the required permits from the Indonesian Manpower Department. A foreigner working  without the proper permit in Indonesia is a criminal offense that could also send Corby back to prison.
  • Indonesian law deems anyone resident in Indonesia as a tax object whose worldwide income is subject to income tax. Therefore any sizeable fees earned by Corby would be subject to the top Indonesian income tax rate of 35%.
  • Schapelle Corby’s original application for parole was based on her occupying the multi-family compound of her brother-in-law in Kuta. This residence was inspected and approved by prison officials prior to her release. The estrangement of Mercedes from her Balinese husband apparently now make the Kuta compound no longer available to Schapelle Corby and could form the basis of a revocation of her parole if sutiable alternative accommodation cannot be found.
  • Schapelle Corby’s Balinese brother-in-law has filled the required role of guarantor during the period of her parole. If he divorces Mercedes, he would no longer be a legal family member qualified to act as Schapelle’s guarantor. This, too, could form the basis of the revocation of her parole.
By any measure, life "on the outside" has become very complicated for Schapelle Corby.


Travelers’ Aid
Bali Hotels Association Issues Guidelines for Guests Affected by Mt. Kelud Explosion

The Bali Hotels Association (BHA) has issued a statement expressing its concern and empathy for the thousands of people displaced from their homes and whose lives have been disrupted by the explosion of Mt. Kelud that began on Thursday, February 13, 2014.

That explosion has been linked to 3 deaths of people living in close proximity to the mountain and the temporary evacuation of thousands of local residents in East Java.

7 airports in Java were closed temporarily on Friday, February 14, 2014 due to the threat to aviation posed by volcanic dust resulting in the cancellation of hundreds of flights. Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport continued to operate normally but did experience a surge of stranded passengers unable to board flights with destinations to airports that remained closed.

As a precaution, Virgin Australia cancelled flight operations to Bali and Phuket on Friday and Saturday, February 14-15, 2014. Virgin Australia flight operations to Bali returned to normal on Sunday, February 16, 2014.

Meanwhile, airports closed in Java are returning to normal flight operations following the removal of volcanic dust from runways and parked aircraft.

Many BHA member hotels, some with staff members originating from the affected areas, are looking at how best to assist the nation-wide relief effort now underway for those affected by the disaster.
 
The BHA has issued the following guidelines its member hotels in dealing with the Mt. Kelud explosion in order assist travelers temporarily stranded in Bali:
  • Hotel guests needing to extend their stay should request their BHA member hotel to extend the Best Available Rate (BAR).
  • Contracted rates should apply for bookings made by a third party.
  • BHA members are recommended to accept without penalty or additional charge all bookings from guests delayed in their arrivals due to cancelled or delayed flights connected to Mt. Kelud’s explosion. Based on availability, this facility should be available for all affected rebookings until June 15, 2014.
Bali Hotels Association is encouraged by reports that conditions are improving across the affected regions of Java and prays that both residents and travelers will soon be able to recommence their daily lives without further inconvenience and hardship.


 
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