Chat to our customer service using Yahoo Messenger!
Click here to download and install Yahoo Messenger
"Always a pleasure to read the Bali Update. We've referred many friends who are considering a trip to Bali to the newsletter, as well as several considering a permanent move. It's such a simple way for us to stay in touch."
We understand your Dream A trip to Bali is for many of our clients a once in a lifetime adventure. We therefore plan the smallest details ensuring the highest quality experience for each and every one of our clients.
National Tourism Figures Warn Government that Russian Tourist Targets Can't be Met Without Direct Air Connections to Moscow.
Bisnis Indonesia reports that the Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) is urging the government to provide direct air access between Russian and Indonesia to increase the flow of Russian tourists.
Ben Sukma, the Chairman of ASITA told the press that the Indonesian government's target of 100,000 Russian tourists in 2008 will be difficult to achieve without direct air connections between the two countries. Sukma explained: "The main stumbling block to increasing Russian tourist visitors is (a lack of ) air access. Unlike our competing destination Thailand, whose national carrier (Thai Airways) have direct flights to Moscow we have no direct air link. In the past Aeroflot flew directly to Bali, but no more. We have to fix this."
Russian tourists presently visiting Bali use flights provided by Trans Euro, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways - who all operate non-direct services to the Island.
In 2007 a total of 36,933 Russian tourists visited Bali, according to statistics provided by the Bali immigration office.
The Eve of Adam Air?
A World of Woe for Adam Air from Regulators and a Major Shareholder. Is the Party Over for the Indonesian Low Cost Airline?
Following the latest safety incident involving an Adam Air flight that slid off the runway at Batam's Hang Nadim Airport on March 10, 2008, the Indonesian Department of Civil Aviation has threatened to "freeze" the airlines Air Operating Certificate if the carrier's management is unable to quickly correct its safety management shortcomings.
Several passengers suffered injuries in the Batam mishap, but no fatalities were reported.
The Minister of Transportation, Jusman Syafii Djamal, told Bisnis Indonesia that if improvements are not made soon, he will lower their safety rating of Adam Air to "category III" – the lowest safety rating which could lead to a closure of the airline.
In reviewing the latest mishap of Adam Air the Minister directed his safety inspectors to focus on the pilot's role in the bad landing who reportedly landed his aircraft with less than 1,000 meters of visibility.
Adam Air currently operates a fleet of 23 aircraft composed entirely of Boeing 737 aircraft.
Findings on January 1, 2007 Crash Expected Soon
Members of the National Transportation Safety Committee have announced that the final results of their investigation into January 1, 2007 crash of an Adam Air flight will be released sometime in the next two weeks. That crash, which saw an airplane disappear into the ocean near South Sulawesi, claimed the lives of 102 passengers and crew.
The plane's location was not determined until many days after the plane was reported lost and the black box recorder was only recovered and read 9 months after the crash.
In compiling the final crash report Indonesian authorities have received assistance from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.
Deeper Troubles Ahead for Adam Air?
Amidst the threat of a government crackdown, it now appears that Adam Air problems have now worsened with the carrier facing a severe cash crunch due to the "resignation" of a 50% partner in the business - PT Bhakti Investama.
Bhkati Investama, which owns its investment in the airline through Global Transport Services, have told the press that they have seen little improvement in the airline's safety performance and operational transparency.
Press reports state that lack of new cash injections by Global Transport are causing payments to suppliers to be missed and precipitating demands from aircraft leasing companies for their planes to be returned.
Bhakti's decision to cease financial support to Adam Air may also be connected with recent announcements by the investment bank to create a new full-service airline Eagle Air operating 25 planes on regional and Asian routes.
Bhakti Investment is a large investment bank with substantial interests in the Indonesian media.
Airline Denies Imminent Shutdown
The Head of Corporate Communications for Adam Air, Danke Drajat, has issued a statement denying the airline is on the verge of a shutdown due to financial difficulties. Drajat did, however, confirm that only 14 of the airlines's 23 aircraft are currently operating, with the remaineder undergoing "routine" inspections. Speaking to Bisnis Indonesia, he said: "If there are those who say we (Adam Air) will stop operations next week, that is only gossip. The turth is that we have indeed reduced flight frequencies to several destinations because several of our planes our undergoing routine inspections."
He denied that reports that some agents have stopped selling Adam Air tickets from March 16th.
Home on the Range
Salon Culinaire 2008 Competition Results Names Bali Cooking Stars.
Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa was named as the "Best Culinary Team" for the fourth consecutive time at the Salon Culinaire 2008 competition held in conjunction FHT 2009 – Food, Hotel, Tourism Exhibition in Bali, February 28 – March 1, 2008.
The prestigious culinary competition is held biennially in order to enhance the standards of culinary fare on the Island. A number of highly regarded chefs who are members of the World Association of Chefs' Societies (WACS) flew into Bali to judge the latest competition organized by Bali Culinary Professionals (BCP) at the Bali International Convention Center (BICC), Nusa Dua.
Winning 2nd place in the Best Culinary Organization division was the team from Bulgari Resort-Hotel Jimbaran while 3rd went to cooks from Ritz-Carlton Bali Resort & Spa.
Other category winners during the Salon Culinaire 2008 include:
• Best Culinary Artist - I Gusti Agung Alit Subawa, Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa
• Best Team Hot Cooking - Sabar Haryono and Kadek Suarmini, The Westin Resort, Nusa Dua
• Best Individual Hot Cooking - A.A. Astika, Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa
• Best Pastry Chef Team - I Made Sutisna and Ketut Candranata, Ritz-Carlton Bali Resort & Spa
• The Asian Pastry Cup - 1st place The Ritz-Carlton Bali Resort & Spa; 2nd place The Nikko Bali Resort; 3rd place The Laguna Resort & Spa.
• Bocuse d'Or - 1st place Bulgari Resort-Hotel Jimbaran 2nd place The Laguna Resort & Spa 3rd place The Ritz-Carlton Bali Resort & Spa
Bocuse d'Or Asia 2008
Bulgari Resort-Hotel Jimbaran as the winner of the Indonesian Bocuse d'Or will represent Indonesia at the first edition of Bocuse d'Or Asia 2008, to be held at Gourmet World Shanghai in Pudong China May 29-31, 2008. The China finals of the international competition will showcase gourmet artisans from 12 nations.
Jean-Charles Le Coz Heads Nikko Bali Resort
Experienced French Hotelier to Head 390 Room Nusa Dua Area Hotel.
Jean-Charles Le Coz has been named General Manager of the Nikko Bali Resort & Spa. The well-respected hotelier who has headed several properties in Bali in the past is replacing Thierry Joho, who has been assigned to the opening team at Hotel Nikko Shanghai in China.
Born in France, Le Coz expressed an interest in the hospitality industry from an early age. After earning a degree in Hospitality Management at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, he joined the Hotel L'Horset Opéra, Paris followed by assignments in Geneva, Paris, Phuket, Jakarta and Lausanne.
Not a new comer to Bali, he has held managerial and consultant positions in several resorts including assignments at Novotel Benoa Bali, Harris Resort Kuta and the Bali Hai Resort.
Le Coz is conversant in 4 languages and is married and a father of 2 children.
Hotels & Restaurants Call for 50% Cut in 10% VAT Tax.
PHRI Chairman Says Tourism Tax Practice is Uncompetitive. VP Kalla Denies He Supports a Tax Cut.
The Jakarta Post reports that the Indonesian Hotel & Restaurant Association (PHRI) has called on the Government to cut by half the current 10% value-added-tax (VAT) added to hotel and restaurant bills as a step to increase tourism flows.
PHRI Chairperson, Yani Sukamdani said: "Hotels and restaurant owners are forced to raise their rates due to the surging price of commodities. This condition has put us in a more difficult position to lure customers."
Warning that current tourism targets might be hampered if the tourism sector did not receive the requested tax cut, Sukamdani pointed to other countries in the region who have reduced taxes.
According to the PHRI Chairperson, Malaysian only charges a 5% VAT and Singapore only 4% VAT which renders Indonesia non-competitive in its taxation practice.
Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, has set a nation-wide goal of 7 million tourists generating US$6.4 billion in foreign exchange for Visit Indonesian Year 2008. Last year Indonesia managed to attract 5.5 million visitors who spent US$4.8 billion. The latest targets, if achieved, represent a +27.3% increase in foreign visitors and a +33% increase foreign exchange earnings.
Sukamdani's comments were made following a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla who the PHRI Chairperson says supports the call for the tax reduction and more spending on tourism promotion.
VP Denies He Supports Tax Cut
However, in a subsequent article in Bisnis Indonesia, the Indonesian Vice-President was quick to deny press reports that he personally supports a 50% cut in the hotel and restaurant VAT tax and a reduction of import duties that range as high as 300% to 50%.
In denying the reports, Kalla said: "Business people are always asking for something. That's the way they work. But, if there is no tax how can we build and repair the roads in front of the hotels and restaurants? The taxes will remain as they are."
Bali Jailer Jailed for Drug Possession
Kerobokan Prison Guard Sentenced to 4 Years for Narcotics and Arms Possession.
Tempo Interaktif reports that the former head of prison guards at Bali’s Kerobokan prison, Sudrajat, has been sentenced to 4 years prison and fined Rp. 5 million (US$534) for the possession of illegal armaments and narcotics.
In handing down its sentence on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, the Denpasar Court took into favorable consideration the former prison guard’s young age and good behavior during the course of the trial. At the same time, the Court said Sudrajat’s betrayal of trust as a prison officials weighed heavily against his favor.
Despite Sudrajat’s explanation that the fifty 22 caliber bullets found in his possession were remnants from a target practice session, the Courts ruled him guilty of possession illegal armaments. The Court also rejected Sudrajat’s mitigating claim of drug addiction and found him guilty of possession 2.03 grams of sabu-sabu (a methamphetamine crystal drug).
Following the verdict of the Court, Sudrajat and his lawyer indicated they were considering the possibility of appealing the verdict.
Give the Gift of Life On Your Next Bali Visit
Bali’s Blood Bank Running Short of Blood. Make a Blood Donation During Your Bali Holiday.
Republic on Line reports that continuing demands for blood transfusions in Bali are causing Bali's blood bank to run low on blood and plasma stocks.
Dr. Gusti Lanang Rudiartha, the Red Cross coordinator for Bali, said, "we are having problems finding volunteer blood donors when, in fact, there are a large number of hospitals seeking blood each month."
In comments made to the press on Wednesday, March 12, 2008, Rudiartha told the press that a number of steps have been taken to persuade the public to become blood donors, including appeals via local banjars or community associations. The Red Cross official, who also serves as a Director of the Sanglah General Hospital in Denpasar, explained further: "We already tried to undertake blood drives via organizations, government bodies and companies involving hundreds of people. But we have only managed to secure 20 to 30 bags of blood."
The Sanglah General Hospital needs 100-200 bags of blood each month, which does not include the demand from other hospital in Bali which requires another 80 bags of blood each month.
To maintain adequate supplies the Bali blood bank normally requires the families of patients seeking more than two bags of blood to recruit additional donors from among family and friends for blood replacement.
What’s The Problem?
Rudiartha complained that many local residents are frightened or reluctant to donate blood, despite the lack of any known negative effects linked to donating blood.
"Becoming a blood donor is similar to having a free check-up for diseases detectable in the blood such as sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and other illnesses," he explained. The Doctor also pointed to other benefits derived from donating blood, such as the added stimulation of the body’s metabolism as the body works to replace donated blood, a process that many blood donors claims increases the personal feeling of good health and a welcomed slight loss in weight resulting from regular blood donations.
The Bali Red Cross provided 1,617 bags of blood to the Island’s residents in 2007.
Visiting Bali? Donate Blood
If you'd to give the gift of life during your coming visit to Bali, visit the friendly folk at the Sanglah General Hospital Blood Bank - telephone ++62-(0)361-227911
Protect Your Bali Villa: Hire A Uniformed Guard.
Police to Call Villa Owners to Improve Safety Standards in Ubud.
Bali Post reports that despite the recent arrest of a ring of thieves linked to a series of robberies and physical attacks in the Ubud and Sanur areas, there are still substantial improvements that remain to be made in the security systems for commercial villas, particularly in Gianyar Regency - which includes Ubud.
Data collected by the tourism office for Gianyar counts 350 commercial villas in the regency, 37 of which have no formal operational license. Other data provided by police in Gianyar indicates 120 of these villas or 34% do not employ uniformed guards (Satpam).
A spokesman for the Gianyar Police, speaking with the permission of the Regency’s Chief Officer, Drs. Dedy Dhia Dharma, said many of the villas affected by robberies do not employ uniformed guards.
The police spokesman said the police are preparing to call villa owners to ask their cooperation in improving security standards in Ubud.
Members of traditional village communities will also be included in current steps to improve security standards for villas in Gianyar, particularly for villas located in remote areas that are often targeted by thieves.
UNESCO Official Visits Taman Ayu Temple Complex – One of Three Bali Sites Now Being Considered for World Heritage Status.
As reported on Balidiscovery.com, Bali is in the final steps of a process seeking United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approval to name three Bali destinations as World Heritage Sites. If successful, the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces in Tabanan, Pura Taman Ayun in Badung and the Pakerisan River valley in Gianyar will be added to UNESCO's list human and natural history sites marked for careful preservation. [See: Seeking Recognition for Bali's Heritage]
On Wednesday, March 12, 2008, the Director General UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, visited the Pura Taman Ayu religious site at Mengwi in Bali accompanied by Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, and Indonesia's UNESCO cultural ambassador actress Christine Hakim.
After viewing the four-century-old Taman Ayu complex, Matsuura warned the Indonesian daily Kompas that while he was both moved and persuaded by his first hand visit to the Bali temple, there are many heritage sites nominated for UNESCO status, but only few are actually chosen for the honor.
Admiring the physical setting of Taman Ayu and its surroundings, Matsuura reminded all that the active participation of the local community in preserving a cultural site plays a key role in any final decision for Heritage Site selection by UNESCO
If any or all of the 3 Balinese sites is finally selected at the next general assembly of UNESCO they will join three other Heritage Sites already found in Indonesia, namely: the Borobudur Buddhist Temple Complex near Yogyakarta; the Sangiran early man site near Solo; and the Prambanan Hindu Monument in Klender. All three of these cultural sites are in Central Java.
Don't Fence Me In!
Large Waves Threatens Former President Megawati's Bali Retreat.
Nature is no respecter of power and fame - even when you're the former President of Indonesia.
Strong waves along Cucukan Beach, north of Bali's Sanur Village at Blahbatuh, have caused damage and erosion to beach-side homes, including the Bali retreat of former President Megawati Soekarnoputri. Heavy waves over the Nyepi holiday weekend sent waves rushing over parking areas at nearby surfing beaches and caused a 5 meters of sea wall enclosing the former President's family compound in Bali to crumble into the ocean.
5 consecutive days of high seas defeated efforts to stave off further damage with sandbags were no match for the high waves which pummeled the compound's sea walls .
This Law's for You
A report in Radar Bali warned that even a President can't ignore the laws of nature. IKG Darma Putra, an educator and environment observer from Blahbatuh, said he already knew two years ago when the Ibu Megawati's compound was being built that it violated set-back laws which were ignored due due to political considerations.
Darma told Radar Bali: "Ibu Mega's villa managed to escape control by local regulations, but now the law of nature is meting out its punishment as walls collapse into the ocean."
When the press contacted the former Chief Executive's office for comment, a spokesperson exlpained that the villa suffering the damage belonged to Mega's daughter, Puan, and that Megawati's villa remains unscathed.
A Mixed Blessing
Local press reports depicted the large waves as a mixed blessing. While holiday homes that ignored 100 meter set back rule from the high-tide mark suffered damage, local restaurants and traders enjoyed the added commerce brought by surfers chasing large waves.
Reprieve of Death Sentence for 3 of 'Bali Nine' Meets with Mixed Reviews from Those Involved in Indonesia's War on Drugs
It is estimated that no fewer than 1.1 million Indonesian schoolchildren actively use narcotics. This fact was underlined last week by Hamdani, the Chairman of the North Sumatra Anti-Narcotics Movement (GRANAT), who, in recent comments to the press, suggested that narcotics abuse should be included as a formal subject of study in Indonesian high schools. Hamdani bemoaned the rising rate of drug abuse in Indonesian society and his profound disappointment that 3 of the “Bali Nine” had their death sentences reduced to life-in-prison by the Supreme Court on March 7, 2008. [See: A Gift of Life for Three of the Bali Nine]
The Indonesian Supreme Court accepted the appeal of Tach Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen, and Matthew James Norman – reducing the death sentence for the three who were convicted for their role in attempting to smuggle 8.2 kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia.
The remaining six members of the "Bali Nine" are Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran, Michael Czugaj, Renae Lawrence, Scott Rush, and Martin Stephens. Czugaj, Rush, Stephens and Lawrence were arrested at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport with the drugs taped to their bodies while trying to board a flight to Australia. Andre Chan was arrested on a separate flight. While Nguyen, Sukumaran, Chen and Norman were subsequently apprehended at the Hotel Melasti in Kuta.
Among those arrested at the airport, only Chan was arrested with no narcotics on his person. Those arrested at the Kuta hotel were found with 350 grams of heroin in their possession and assorted paraphernalia that police claimed linked them to the smuggling effort.
The "Bali Nine" have had a hair-raising and tumultuous ride through the criminal justice season with numerous appeals and changes in sentence. In February 2006, seven of the nine received life sentences, while Sukumaran and Chan – seen as masterminds behind he crime, were sentenced to death.
The nine appealed their sentence. Renae Lawrence, the only woman in the group, accepted an appeals court's reduction of her sentence to 20 years.
The remaining 8 convicts, however, persisted in the precarious appeal process, suffering the dire consequences of that decision when the court increased from only 2 to 6 the number facing the death penalty. That decision on September 6, 2006, put Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran, Scott Rush, Tach Duc Nguyen, Si Yi Chen, and Matthew Norman all on death row. Meanwhile, Michael Czugai and Martin Stephens remained under a sentence of life imprisonment.
The latest appeal decision had the death sentences for Duc Thanh Nguyen, Si Yi Chen, and Matthew James Norman reduced to life. The three men still sitting on death row – Chan, Sukumaran and Rush have yet to file an appeal of their sentence.
One Indonesian national daily Kontras saluted the decision of the panel of judges, seeing the sentence reduction as part of a larger imperative to abolish capital punishment in Indonesia. Citing overall weaknesses in the how law is administered in Indonesia, Kontras also suggested that all those awaiting execution, including terrorists, should similarly be exempted from their fate.
Many observers were quoted in the Indonesian press as opining that the latest appeal’s court decision was the result of lobbying by the newly elected Australian government. Usman of Kontras said quiet efforts by the Australians to urge mercy for their citizens was entirely appropriate given Australia's opposition to capital punishment and similar efforts by Indonesian authorities seeking leniency for convicted Indonesians in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Less enthusiastic over the Supreme Courts latest decision was the Head of the National Anti-Narcotics Bureau (BNN), Made Mangku Pastika who protested the three's escape from the death penalty. Pastika, who is also a candidate for Bali's governorship, feels that the death penalty is a proper response, saying "every day, 40 people die (in Indonesia) due to narcotics."
BNN estimates that 1.1 million student are involved in illicit drugs that, as a whole, affect the lives of 3.2 million Indonesians. In the eyes of law enforcement officials charged with battling drugs in Indonesia those numbers shield a much more widespread problem that claims the lives of 14,600 people every year and destroys the futures of countless others.
Given the lethal nature of heroin, the large amount involved in the crime of the "Bali Nine" and the frightening dimensions of the current drug crisis in Indonesia – there are many in Indonesia deeply disappointed that 3 of the 9 have seemingly escaped a final date before a Bali firing squad.
Climb Every Mountain
Indonesian Seven Summit Expedition to Climb 7 Mountains on 7 Continents to Celebrate Visit Indonesia Year 2008.
Indonesia’s Department of Culture and Tourism has joined forced with the Indonesian Federation of Mountaineering (FMI) to mount a national expedition to climb 7 of the world’s largest mountain tops between March 2008 and September 2009.
The ambitious program, intended to help celebrate Visit Indonesia Year 2008 (VIY2008), was announced to the press at a joint meeting of the FMI and the Tourism Department held in March in Jakarta. The Chairman of the FMI, Jody Alexander, said the Indonesian climbers would bring honor to the Nation while at the same time supporting the VIY 2008 initiative.
The Indonesian Seven Summit Expedition
A Herculean initiative that will require 219 days of climbing will include Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa (5,963 meters – 17 days); Mount Denali/McKinley in the U.S. State of Alaska (6,194 meters – 23 day); Mount Cartensz Pyramid in Papua, Indonesia (4,884 meters – 15 days); Mount Elbrus in Russia (5,624 meters - 14 days); Mount Vinson Massif in Antarctica (4,897 meters – 20 days); Mount Aconcagua in Argentina (6,962 meters – 21 days); and Mount Everest in Tibet/Nepal (8,850 meters – 68 days).
Alexander told the press that the purpose of the The Indonesian Seven Summit Expedition was not to set any world records, but to promote Indonesian tourism to the world and help mark the 100 years celebration of the National Day of Awakening on May 20, 2008 – the anniversary of the founding the Boedi Oetomo movement. The massive undertaking of climbing 7 mountains on 7 continents will see the Indonesian climbers spend 219 days on the slopes, a period in excess of the world record of completing the 7 mountain climb in 5 months held by an Indian climbing team.
The FMI expedition will include only 5 team members, comprised of 2 climbers and 3 minders who will only follow the climbers only as far as the base camp at the foot of each of the 7 mountains.
According to Alexander, the small size of the expedition team is a function of the high cost of mounting the effort. For example, Alexander explained that the cost of climbing Kilimanjaro will consume between US$3,000 and US$5,000 per person. To complete the expedition to conquer seven mountains the total costs at will therefore range between US$105,000 to US$175,000.
According to one of the climbers joining the expedition, the Indonesian group will climb Mount Cho Oyu in the Himalayas (8,201 meters – 41 days) as a warm-up to acclimate the climbers before tackling Mt. Everest.
The links below provide access to the graphical version of the Bali Update.