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Terrorist Attack Outside Australian Embassy in Jakarta Brings Heightened Security Measures and Preventive Steps to Bali.
An apparent attack by suicide bombers who detonated a 200 kilogram explosive device just outside the walls of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta at approximately 10:15 a.m. local time on Thursday, September 9, 2004, has claimed 9 lives and caused over 180 injuries. The explosion resulted in widespread structural damage to the exterior of the Embassy and at least 9 surrounding buildings in the Kuningan commercial district, causing glass from the window panes on nearby buildings to be shattered to a level reaching the 15th floor.
Police authorities are linking the explosion to a similar attack on the nearby Jakarta Marriott Hotel in August of 2003 and the tragic bombing of two Bali nightspots on October 12, 2002. Police and international press reports are also linking the latest bombing to the notorious Jemah Islamiah movement.
Bali Precautions and Reactions
Following the latest attack in Jakarta, here's a brief round up of developments and reactions in Bali, a 1.5 hour flight away from the Indonesian capital and scene of the latest attack:
• The Australian Consulate in Bali closed immediately after the Jakarta bombing to allow the installation of additional vehicle barriers around the consulate's perimeter. According to press reports, a decision has been made to relocate the Bali consulate to a more secure location – a policy in keeping with upgraded security at all official Australian installations worldwide.
• 3,000 officers of the Bali Police force were immediately mobilized in the hours following the Jakarta bombing, providing heightened security control at Bali's airport, seaports, public places, and local tourist attractions.
• Security forces, including dogs from Bali's K-9 corps, and metal and explosive detectors have been deployed at Gilimanuk's crossing point for ferries operating between Java and Bali. Vehicles, vehicle registrations, and personal identity of all people entering Bali are now undergoing careful scrutiny by security officials at the ferry crossing point.
• Security measures have been beefed up for the Wismilak Women's Tennis Association Championships being held at Nusa Dua September 13-19, 2004. Precautionary measures are now in place at the airport, hotels, practice areas and tournaments venues.
• In keeping with the call from the leadership of the Bali chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tour & Travel Agents (ASITA) for calm and introspection in the wake of the Jakarta bombing, a mass prayer meeting has been set for Tuesday, September 14, 2004 at 3:30 p.m. at the Puja Mandala Complex, a massive center of religious worship shared in common by all the major religious groupings found in Bali.
• Local airlines and officials working at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport have reported no significant rush to leave Bali by visitors in the wake of the Jakarta bombing. Inbound foreign tourists are said to still be averaging nearly 5,000 each day.
• National tourism officials, including the Minister of Culture and Tourism, have voiced confidence in the days following the Jakarta incident that Indonesia will still manage to achieve a targeted 5.1 million foreign tourists nation-wide for 2004.
• The Bali Hotel Association (BHA) has introduced measures, in coordination with the senior managers of its member hotels, tightening security around all hotels in Bali. Additional staffing have been assigned security roles and all vehicles are being stopped, searched and surveyed before allowing to enter into close proximity to BHA hotels.
• Bali Police authorities have appealed to the public to remain calm while at the same time increasing the community's sense of caution and vigilence. Police have asked for the public's help in reporting any suspicious activities, individuals or vehicles seen around Balinese homes or places of employment.
balidiscovery.com expresses its condolences to those who lost friends and family members in the Jakarta attack and its sympathy to the many who suffered injuries in that senseless episode.
Echoes of Peace – October 12, 2004
A Day of International Peace to Commemorate Anniversary of Bali Bombing.
Organizers of this year's commemoration ceremony of the Bali bombing of October 12, 2002 are predicting upwards of 7,000 people will attend prayer and remembrance services to be held at the Bajra Sandhi Monument in the Renon sub-district of Denpasar.
The organizing committee announced their plans at a press conference held at the Bali Tourism Board on Tuesday, September 7, 2004. The ceremonies - Gema Perdamaian or Echoes of Peace will be attended by international religious figures and includes prayers and cultural performances.
The Chairman of the organizing committee, Agung Suryawan, said, "the goal of Echoes of Peace is to make the call for peace reverberate to every corner of the globe, emanating from the 'Island of Peace' – Bali."
He urged all segments of the population, without exception, to "spontaneously participate in the event."
Organizers have not yet announced the specific program and timing for the event.
Latest Developments in the 911 ERS Fund Debate
Officials Striving to Distance Themselves from Controversial Fee Proposal.
As reported at balidiscovery.com [The 911 ERS Fund?] a Jakarta-based foundation is continuing in its attempts to introduce a US$ 30-40 surcharge on all inbound international passengers visiting Bali which they claim will finance an emergency safety and welfare program for the island's tourists.
Following the publication of the story in Bali Update on September 6, 2004, opposition to the proposed program has become increasingly vocal with local community and political leaders quoted in Bali newspapers sparing no effort in distancing themselves from the unpopular proposal.
In the most recent developments:
• Bali's Governor has ordered the Head of the Bali Tourism Office, Mr. Gede Nurjaya to write to the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) to underline that the Governor has never agreed to the proposed US$ 30-40 surcharge on inbound passengers.
• The Governor's Office has explained that the endorsement letter for the 911 ERS Fund he signed in 2003 and which is now being used as the legal basis for moving forward with plans to impose the surcharge, specifically forbid any steps that would impose an economic burden on the people of Bali.
• The Chairman of IATA in Bali, Yan Hastama, claimed on Tuesday, September 7, 2004, that he had no knowledge of the proposed charge or any negotiations now underway between IATA and the funds organizers – the YLKMI.
• The President Director of the Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC), Made Mandra, was quoted in the Indonesian-language Bali Post saying "If the fee is imposed, it will be the same as self-strangulation. Eventually tourists won't want to come to Bali. I think the effects of the proposed 911 surcharge could be as disastrous as the Bali bomb."
Dialogue: Alex Riva – The Westin Resort, Nusa Dua
balidiscovery.com Interviews the Man Responsible for Promoting Bali's Westin Resort and Adjoining Bali International Convention Centre.
balidiscovery.com recently paid a visit to Alex Riva, Executive Assistance Manager, The Westin Resort, Nusa Dua, Bali and Director of the Bali International Convention Centre (BICC) to obtain his insights on the state of Bali's meeting and conference sector. An acknowledged professional in the marketing of travel, Riva is a Swiss national and a graduate of the Lausanne Hotel School with extensive experience working for hotels and travel companies throughout Asia.
Interview: Alex Riva
balidiscovery.com: How do your see the forward business for 2005 for the BICC and The Westin as compared to past years?
Riva: The Events business on the book is extremely encouraging. Based on the business currently on the book and also on the high number of new requests I expect 2005 to be a great year and probably the best ever for the resort.
balidiscovery.com: What are your main meeting and conference markets at present? Does this differ from years past?
Riva: Thanks to the refurbishment and re-branding, we have seen an increased level of business generated from regional corporate meetings which have restarted to consider Bali after the recent challenges. Most of our corporate clients have events with sizes ranging from 20 to 50 persons with several larger ones coming up during the next few months. Another market which has returns and we are seeing good feed-backs is the South African and European incentive segment.
In addition we have been chosen as the venue by numerous larger association events which will be also using neighboring Nusa Dua Hotels.
balidiscovery.com: Do lingering travel warnings play a role in conference and major decision makers in deciding whether or not to come to Bali?
Riva: Unfortunately, yes, and this is still an issue especially for events from Australia and USA, the only 2 markets which haven't returned to what we consider "normal" levels.
balidiscovery.com: What are some of the names of major groups/companies just served and on the books over the coming months?
Riva: The list of the International clients we have served this year include Bosch, Lexmark, Siemens, Mercedes-Benz, DaimlerChrysler, EMC, IBM, Dell, Nestle, Hewlett-Packard, Citibank, Ernst & Young, and McDonald's.
Over the coming 12 months we have already approximately 50 events confirmed however we are only able to mention some of the international association convention such as Rotary, World of Aquaculture, Inter Pacific Bar Association, and the International Astronomical Association.
balidiscovery.com: What has been Westin's and BICC's response to heightened security concerns from meeting planners?
Riva: This is a recurring issue for meeting planners today and our property has adapted to this new need of high level of security. Meeting planners are reassured to know that the resort has invested in a sophisticated CCTV system as well as other equipments and, if it helps for the participants to feel safer, we often work closely with the local police to provide an even higher level of security.
Shift in Bali Investments from Tourism to Retail
Local Investment Board Chief Measures New Directions in Island's Investment Climate.
IGA Djanawati, the Chairman of the Bali Investment Coordinating Board (BKPMD), recently presented statistics on changes in investment applications in Bali dating from the Bali bombing of October 2002.
Applications for new investments have undergone a shift, with commercial and retail applications pushing tourism investments from the top spot in Bali.
Djanawati detailed what he sees potentially positive impacts of the change in composition of new investments, citing how foreign investors can now better help local craftsmen make and market products sought in the international marketplace.
New investment projects approved by both the central and provincial Investment Coordinating Board through July 2004 totaled 83 projects. 77 (92.8%) of these new projects were from foreign investors with the remaining 6 from domestically-based capitalists. Total value of the new projects is Rp. 2.117 trillion (approximately US$ 241.7 million).
Of the new investment projects, 35 (42.2%) were manufacturing/retail based with a value of Rp. 435.04 billion (Approximately US$ 48.3 million).
Tourism investments numbered 31 or 37.4% of all new investments projects on the island.
Leading Indonesian Jazz Musician – Ireng Maulana Opens a Pub in Sanur Dedicated to Jazz.
Brothers Kiboud and Ireng Maulana dominate the very pinnacle of jazz and blues guitar artistry in Indonesia. Both have traveled the world performing for and with some of the top jazz musicians at major festivals and performance venues over the past four decades.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
And now, at least half of this dynamic duo is lined up to appear regularly on a Bali stage with the opening of the island's latest live jazz venue - I'm Jazz.
Under the musical mentorship of its part-owner, jazz-great Ireng Maulana, I'm Jazz promises to bring performances to Bali jazz enthusiasts previously only available when visiting the capital or over all-too-infrequent televised jazz sessions. With nearly 4 decades of musical performing to his credit, Ireng Maulana is a regular fixture at leading international Jazz Festivals. The leader of a TV orchestra, he has cut some 200 recordings, and, in 1988, founded the JakJazz musical festival that once ranked as a major event on the world jazz calendar before going into hiatus as a result of the political uncertainty that has plagued Jakarta over the past 5 years.
Located at Jalan Danau Tamlingan No. 27 in Sanur – I'm Jazz is in the former location of the Mykonos Greek Restaurant. I'm Jazz offers good food and generous drinks to the growing number of jazz aficionados discovering this long-overdue addition to the local musical scene.
In managing the musical side of the Club, Ireng is busy shuttling back and forth between Bali and his permanent base in Jakarta - where he still has a full schedule of concerts, recording engagements and TV appearances. When in attendance at the I'm Jazz location, he can be found either on stage rendering flawless jazz and blues guitar performances or working the crowd, encouraging local and visiting jazz musicians to take to the stage and share their gifts. On a recent night guest stars included a veteran jazz male vocalist from Australia, a jazz trio of prodigiously talented teenagers from a local high school, and a young keyboard player who mesmerized the audience with his adept syncopations.
Open for lunch and dinner, the music starts at 8:30 p.m. each night at I'm Jazz.
Our suggestion: come early, enjoy a dinner, and be sure to have a stage center seat for the good music certain to follow.
For more information about I'm Jazz or for reservations telephone ++62-(0)81 835 7005.
Bali School of Design
Bali Opens it First School for Professional Design.
Bali recently inaugurated its first school dedicated exclusively to studying the elements of design. Sekolah Desain Bali (SDB) or the Bali School of Design is located in Denpasar at Jalan Raya Sesetan No. 248.
Headed by Drs. Ida Bagus Pangdjaya, the school offers a one year diploma for the general public and a number of specialized short courses focusing on special areas of design.
The school receives financial backing from the Yayasan Kesejahteraan Korpri Propinsi Bali - an organization dedicated to improving the welfare of civil servants.
The SDB offers a curriculum that is a 20% mix of theory, 30% focus on computer skills, and 50% hand-on practical experience. Among the courses offered are graphic design, product design, interior design, fashion design, and art design.
The founders of the school hope to provide an alternative education for those who, for whatever reasons, are unable to pursue a college degree in the field of design while also providing important training and development opportunities to Bali's many local artists and craftsmen.
Ready, Aim, Fire
Bali to Host Regional Shooting Championships November 27 – December 4, 2004.
Bali's Serangan Island will host an estimated 400 shooters expected to participate in the AustralAsia Shooting Championships IPSC Level IV scheduled to take place November 27 – December 4, 2004.
Some of the world's best firearm shooters, including world champion, Frenchman Eric Grauffel will participate in the week-long event. The Contestants, hailing from 40 countries, will compete in the key event of the meet, an International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) match set for November 28, 2004.
Bambang Trihatmodjo serves as Chairman of the Host Committee and IPSC Indonesia -an organization that now claims more than 400 members in Indonesia.
A special shooting range has been built on Serangan Island to host both the handgun and shotgun divisions of competition.
Djim Sam Soe Super Premium - a subsidiary of PT HM Sampoerna one of Indonesia's largest tobacco companies is a major sponsor and will underwrite some of the cost of the event.
Tourism Leader Says Much Too Early to Declare Visa Policy a Success.
Representatives of the Tourism Think Tank Masyarakyat Pariwisata Indonesia (MPI) have suggested that it is too early to conclude that the controversial visa on arrival fee is having no effect on tourism arrivals.
Ms. Meity Robot, the Vice-Chairman of the MPI, speaking recently in Jakarta at a seminar "Visa on Arrival: Blessing or Disaster" said, "it is too premature to claim the VOA (visa on arrival) has no effect on tourism arrivals."
Robot suggested that officials who compare 2004 arrivals with the same month in 2003 as proof that the VOA is a success are guilty of misleading the public. "In fact, 2003 tourist arrivals were down drastically as the result of the Bali bombing, the war in Iraq and the devastating impact of SARS," she explained.
Echoing a theme repeatedly made at balidiscovery.com, Robot said that in order to evaluate the effect of the visa policy we need to compare current performance with arrivals in the first half of 2001.
In evaluating nationwide arrivals for the first six months of 2004 totaling 2.6 million, you need to look at the same period for the three preceding years. According to Robot, while the 2004 figures represents an improvement of 31% when compared to the unrepresentative year of 2003 (1.9 million), the 2004 totals show a drop of 17% when compared to 2002 and 15% from results in 2001.
Perhaps more indicative of the impact of the VOA is the current failure of the European and American arrival numbers to regain the momentum of their past performance in 2001.
Local Hotel Project in Legian Halted?
Government Halts Losari Hotel Project on Jalan Sahadewa in Legian.
Local building authorities in Denpasar are threatening to level a 6 storey 46-room hotel project on Jalan Sahadewa in Legian Kelod because of a number of violations of its building permits.
According to authorities, the Losari Hotel project, already at an advanced state of construction, has violated a number of regulations including:
• Creation of a 214 square meter parking area in the building's basement, an area not provided for in the building's original plans and building approval.
• Erection of the building only 2.2 meters from the street's gutter, a violation of the building code.
• Violations of building codes for building to land rations of 60:40.
• Infringements of rules stipulating no building can be erected within 9 meters of existing property lines.
• Expansion of the project to 60 rooms from its original approval, which was only for 46 rooms.
Local authorities admit they are facing difficulties in responding to local complaints demanding a halt to the hotel project based on its violation of local building codes. Particularly problematic to enforcers are calls to stop the project because of the building's close proximity to other property lines, a rule apparently violated by a number of other buildings in close proximity to the Losari Hotel project. Building inspectors are also reportedly still measuring the structure to see if its total height exceeds a 15 meter maximum imposed by local regulations.
Local press reports indicate the project has been halted by local authorities. Meanwhile, the owner of the project has promised to make all changes necessary in the project's construction to bring it into conformance with local building regulations.
Tourism Leaders Set Forth Criteria for Future Minister of Culture & Tourism.
The Chairmen of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) and the Indonesian Conference and Congress Association (INCCA) have said that whichever candidate wins the coming election they hope that the future tourism minister serving the next administration is an individual able to make systematic solutions to tourism problems acceptable to all circles of society.
Quoted in the Monday, September 6, 2004 edition of the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, ASITA national Chairman, Ben Sukma, said the tourism industry needs the Tourism Minister to be a person prepared to take extraordinary action based on a thorough understanding of his field of tourism gained from professional experience in the field. "If (the next administration) makes the wrong choice, then the tourism industry will require another five years to escape their current condition," he warned.
Icqbal Alan Abdullah, Chairman of INCCA said the Minister of Tourism must have the intellectual capital necessary to open minds, accept complaints and remove obstacles. "The tourism industry is not as simplistic as many would have you think," said Icqbal.
The two leaders from INCCA and ASITA listed the four top criteria for the next administration's appointee as a tourism minister:
• First, the coming minister must be a practitioner in the tourism industry, with experience in hotels, tours, congresses and conventions. He or she must be an individual with wide knowledge and experience in tourism.
• Second, the future minister of tourism must have a record of being able to grow tourism with no taint of past bankruptcy.
• Third, the next tourism minister must be prepared to take timely and objective decisions.
• Fourth, the minister of tourism must enjoy wide contacts, horizontally and vertically, in the tourism industry.
Icqbal explained that, to date, tourism has been viewed as an extension of the arts and culture and not as a real sector of the national economy. "Tourism is not just a lot of noise and fanfare, but a sector of the economy able to add to national revenues and create employment," Icqbal explained.
"If tourism is able to generate US$ 5 billion in foreign exchange then its promotion should also receive greater attention, including an allocation for promotion equal to at least 1% of that amount (US$ 100 million)," the INCCA Chairman urged.
Alam KulKul Wins the Gold
Australian Publication 'Travel for Couples' Votes Kuta's Alam KulKul - Bali Best Resort in South East Asia.
The Australian holidaymakers who form the readership of the stylish Holidays for Couples magazine recently voted their favourite hotels and resorts around the world.
The publishers of Holidays For Couples, Rhonda Bannister and Tanya Joslin, said that the award, the first in Australia by a consumer travel magazine, attracted an overwhelming response from both the public and travel industry.
Most Popular Hotel/Resort South East Asia
In the category of Most Popular Hotel/Resort South East Asia, Bali's Alam KulKul Resort located along the popular Kuta beachfront boulevard garnered top gold honors. While the silver and second-place went to the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort – Malaysia another Bali Property, the Bounty Hotel, also in Kuta, was listed in the top five.