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ISSUE 14

THE LOMBOK GUIDE IS ONLINE!

BOUNTY BACK TO LOMBOK!

NEW PEARL GALLERY OPEN IN SENGGIGI

GARUDA EARNS IATA SAFETY CERTIFICATION

SQUARE RAISES THE BAR AGAIN!

BALI TOURISM ARRIVALS BREAK RECORDS

LION AIR FLIES TO SINGAPORE DAILY

NEW SOUTHWEST COAST DEVELOPMENT

GARUDA EXPANDS ITS AUSTRALIAN FLIGHTS

LOCAL SCENE

MT RINJANI MORE POPULAR THAN EVER

A NEW PORT FOR BALI

LOMBOK LIFE EXPECTANCY ON THE INCREASE

YOU’VE GOTTA LAUGH!

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THE LOMBOK GUIDE IS ONLINE!

Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's new tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every fortnight and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island. Use the Guide to explore Lombok and check out the best hotels, restaurants and sight-seeing options, to make your Lombok holiday special.

What an exciting time the first six months of 2008 have been in Lombok! The air of optimism is palpable, with construction on the new Lombok International Airport going ahead and investment flooding into the island. Real estate sales are booming and, in all areas of the island, developers are rushing to complete building projects in time for the high season next month.

This issue of The Lombok Guide brings great news for tourism operators and travellers from Bali, with Bounty Cruises re-commencing services between Bali and Lombok on 11 June 2008. The high speed catamaran that used to provide transfers between the two islands, but suspended operations in 2002, has resumed services with three trips a week.

With Garuda, Merpati and a number of other airlines providing flights between Jakarta, Bali and other national cities to Lombok, and Gili Cat, Bounty Cruises and other fast boat options from Bali, it's never been easier to get to Lombok!

There's excitement in The Lombok Guide office this fortnight too, with the official launch of our website. Now you can read The Lombok Guide online, wherever you are in the world! Our website gives readers all the information about Lombok: how to get here, places to visit, what to do, where to stay and much more all in full, vibrant colour! Plus, our site is updated every two weeks with each new issue of The Lombok Guide, keeping you up to date with all the latest news and happenings from Lombok, no matter where you are!

Visit us on the web soon at www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself … like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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BOUNTY BACK TO LOMBOK!

Things just got much easier for travellers from Bali wishing to visit Lombok and looking for a fast, comfortable option to flying. Bounty Cruises, the high speed catamaran based in Bali, recommenced services between the two islands on Wednesday, 11 June 2008.

It's not the first time we have seen the big yellow catamaran in Lombok waters. In the past, Bounty Cruises provided transfers between Bali and Lombok several times per week, until the service was suspended after the Bali bombings in 2002.

On board for the inaugural voyage on Wednesday were around eighty travel agents from Bali, Java and travel agencies throughout Asia, who joined the trip as part of a promotional tour by Bounty Cruise operators.

The new service offers options such as one way and return transfers between Bali and Lombok, or day trips to Gili Rengit – a beautiful undeveloped island off Lombok's southwest coast. Billed by the Bounty operators as “Secret Island”, Gili Rengit has clean white sand beaches that are safe for swimming and snorkelling, and wonderful coral reefs teeming with tropical fish for snorkelling from the shore, or diving in the deeper locations. Other activities on offer for day trippers to the island are banana boat and donut rides, jet skiing and a delicious buffet lunch.

The boat left Benoa Harbour around 8am and travelled to Gili Rengit where the travel agents were invited to go ashore and look around the island. So impressed were the agents that many didn't want to leave! They were amazed at the natural beauty of the island and the obvious tourism potential; located so close to Bali, but as yet undeveloped.

Once back on board, the planned schedule was thrown to the wind as Bounty operators followed instinct and decided to show the agents the beautiful beaches and scenery of Lombok with a slow, leisurely cruise up the coast all the way from Gili Rengit to Teluk Nara.

When the excited agents finally arrived in Teluk Nara, a natural harbour on the west coast opposite the Gili Islands, they were unanimous in their praise for Lombok as a tourism destination. Many gushed about the beaches, the small islands and the stunning scenery they had viewed on their way up the coast.

At the time we went to press, another group of around eighty tour operators from Australia and western agencies were scheduled to do the same promotional tour with Bounty on Friday, 13 June.

Bounty Cruises is a stable, high speed Australian-built 44 metre catamaran, capable of transporting around 500 passengers. The vessel has a Promenade Deck with 94 seats, and a Main Deck with 224 Seats, a removable dance floor, outside guest toilets, bar service, TV and video movies. The Upper Deck is sold as “Executive Class” and has seating for 70 passengers, 50 seats on the outside upper deck, 3 VIP seating areas with lounge and private rest room, an outdoor stage area for entertainment, outside guest toilets, bar service, TV and video movies.

The Bounty Cruise service operates every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The boat will depart Benoa Harbour (Bali) at 8.00am and stop at Gili Rengit on route to Teluk Nara (West Lombok), arriving at the local harbour at 10.30am. This will also allow travellers to make easy connections to the Gili islands. The return trip departs Teluk Nara at 12.30pm, returning to Gili Rengit to pick up day trippers before arriving back in Bali at around 4.00pm.

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NEW PEARL GALLERY OPEN IN SENGGIGI

House of Pearls has just opened in the Senggigi Plaza, next to Rumah Bunga Spa – providing a double reason for the ladies to visit the Plaza!

The pearl gallery has a fantastic selection of beautiful locally-made jewellery, created using Lombok pearls, freshwater pearls and South Sea pearls in gold, silver or chrome settings. Some of the stunning pieces combine pearls with semi-precious stones such as amethyst, topaz and cubic zircona.

Many of the designs are modern and unique, with chunky bangles of pearls and gemstones, stylish shapes for eye-catching necklaces and glamorous ear rings. Classic strings of pearls and elegant pieces are on display alongside lovely artistic creations.

House of Pearls also offers a personal design service for clients wishing to create their own special designs, and the store has a local jeweller who can repair or remodel jewellery.

Visit the Senggigi Plaza soon to see their great range and pick up a special piece of Lombok bling!

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GARUDA EARNS IATA SAFETY CERTIFICATION

Bisnis Indonesia reports that the national flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, has earned IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) safety certification from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The Head of Communications for Garuda Indonesia, Pak Pujobroto, told the press that notification of acceptance and certification from IATA was received by the Airline on 12 May, 2008. Pujobroto said, "With this acknowledgement, Garuda becomes the only operator in Indonesia who has fulfilled the standards of safety established by IOSA and IATA."

Garuda has been under a continual schedule of safety audits since 2005 in its efforts to obtain the much-coveted IOSA certification. The official certification will be handed to Garuda at the annual meeting of IATA, scheduled to be held in Istanbul, Turkey on 1-3 June, 2008.

Of the 231 member carriers of IATA, 203 members (88%) have earned IOSA certification.

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SQUARE RAISES THE BAR AGAIN!

Since it first opened in December 2006, Square Restaurant in Senggigi Square has been setting the standard for fine dining in Senggigi – or perhaps, Lombok.

From the beginning, the food at Square was lauded as a cut above the rest, both in terms of quality and style. In contrast to the other restaurants in Senggigi, Square Restaurant focused on innovative fare more normally found in the upmarket restaurants of Bali. The stylish design of the restaurant, the professional service and the quality of the meals offered, placed Square in a category of its own.

In July, 2007 Executive Chef Eka Arsana was transported from Bali to head up the kitchen team, and the meals and presentation became better than ever. Having served his apprenticeship at the Four Seasons in Ubud, and arriving directly from the acclaimed Dava Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton in Bali, Chef Eka took the Square standard to a higher level.

Now the restaurant is raising the fine dining bar yet again with the appointment of Executive Chef, Wayan Budiana in June 2008. Chef Wayan has been involved in the restaurant scene in Bali for many years, most notably at the hugely successful fine dining restaurant, Mozaic. His working history includes stints at such other renowned places as “Wild Ginger”, “Legian Suite” and “Alam Kul Kul”, before he returned once again to Mozaic, under the tutelage of Executive Chef, Chris Salan.

It's unusual for a chef of Wayan's calibre to be lured away from the bright lights of the Bali restaurant scene, but when asked how Square had enticed him away from Mozaic, Wayan replied, “I worked with Chris at Legian Suite and Mozaic and other places, so this is time to fly on my own. I have a lot of experience, and I hope I can bring something special to Square”. Smiling his infectious smile, he went on to say, “I don't want to be always behind someone else in the kitchen. I want to show my ability – I want to fly!”

At a special sampling of some of Wayan's creations last week, he proved he is capable of making diners' palates fly! We were treated to such delights as Australian Harvey Beef with blue cheese sauce and citrus segments; rack of lamb served medium rare with black olive sauce, mashed potatoes, and caramelised onions with rosemary; king prawns and Asian vegetables infused with ginger and lemongrass; and a delightful papaya sorbet with Italian basil and pineapple sauce.

From the amuse bouche of fresh sashimi, which had a perfect balance of wasabi and pickled ginger, to the dessert of sinfully rich chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream, the food was a gourmet's delight.

Speaking to Square owner Alfiano Tio after the meal, I asked him what drove him to create Square and, despite its success, to keep pushing the standards to higher levels. “I want to upgrade the standard of food in Senggigi,” he said. “I'm not satisfied when I go to Bali and see that so many restaurants are better than in Lombok. I think it's good if Lombok can have fine dining restaurants of the same standard as Bali.”

We agree, Pak Alfi, and – judging by the full tables most nights – so does everyone else!

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BALI TOURISM ARRIVALS BREAK RECORDS

Bali continues to report record-breaking numbers of tourist arrivals for 2008. Official figures for the first quarter of the year show that Bali has received 594,068 visitors; an increase of 25.74% over the same period in 2007 (472,450).

If the current trend continues, Bali could end the year with foreign tourist arrivals of around 2.1 million. Already many hotels and tour operators are reporting that they are overbooked for the “high season” in July and August this year.

With foreign arrivals to Bali continuing to break all previous records, it is interesting to note Bali's top four markets and the new markets emerging over the past 9 years (2000-2008) as reported on balidiscovery.com
Bali's four top-producing markets of Japan, Taiwan, Australia and South Korea have retained that position over the past nine years, (with South Korea only emerging as a contender in 2003, following changes in South Korean travel policies).

However, arrivals from the People's Republic of China, Russia, India, Malaysia and Singapore have risen dramatically current years. Russian, Chinese and Indian arrivals have increased due to a loosening of visa rules by the Indonesian government for visitors from those countries and increasingly easy air access to Bali from those locations.

On an aggregate basis for January to April 2008 compared to the first quarter of 2007:

Japanese arrivals increased 9.92%, Australian arrivals jumped 54.27%
Taiwanese arrivals increased 11.22% Peoples Republic of China arrivals have increased 96.39%
South Korean arrivals 12.24%, Malaysian arrivals up 9.53%
Russian arrivals improved 62.63%,
UK arrivals increased to 23.59%
German arrivals have improved 27.70% and USA arrivals are up 30.01%.
Malaysian and Singaporean numbers are directly linked to the emergence of new low-cost airlines making travel to Bali more affordable.

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LION AIR FLIES TO SINGAPORE DAILY

Lion Air has commenced new direct air services between Bali and Singapore, starting on 6 June, 2008.

Operating the service with Boeing 737-900ER aircraft, the CEO of the Airline, Rusdi Kirana, said he is confident that the new route will be popular with Lion Air customers; a feeling supported by the fact that tickets on the inaugural flights between the two destinations were quickly snapped up by an eager public.

The new service will use the brand new and technically advanced B-737-900ER aircraft purchased by Lion Air.
While Kirana would not comment on the tariff for the Bali - Singapore route, agents have confirmed that tickets are being sold at a cost of less than 80% of the fare offered by competing carriers. Meanwhile, the less tight-lipped Public Relations Manager of Lion Air, Hasyim Arsal Alhabsi, told the newspaper that round trip tickets are being sold on the Bali - Singapore route starting from only US $117.

The daily service will initially operate on a schedule that leaves Singapore at 6:25 am and leaves Bali on its return leg at 11:00 pm.

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NEW SOUTHWEST COAST DEVELOPMENT

The Governor of NTB, Pak Lalu Serinata, said that southwest Lombok is one of Lombok's hidden jewels when he visited the area on 28 May 2008 to open a new luxury villa complex named Rembulan Villas.

This quiet and secluded corner of Lombok has not seen the likes of the Governor's arrival for many a year. Local village people looked on in awe as police sirens and flashing lights heralded the arrival of the “great man”.

Amongst the important people waiting to greet the Governor were the Camat of Sekotong (district head), the Kepala Desa (village head) the regional head of PLN (the electricity department) and many more.

After a speech by the owner of Rembulan Villas, Andy Mackonochie, in which he stressed his commitment to Lombok and, in particular, southwest Lombok, the Governor gave a fifteen minute speech in which he expressed the view that southwest Lombok was now ripe to receive tourists.

The southwest coast possesses many natural advantages such as white sandy beaches, many small offshore islands, clear blue seas and a peaceful environment. One of the main attractions in the area is Bangko Bangko, or Desert Point as it's more popularly known, which has become a world renowned surfing destination in recent years.

The Governor also reasserted his government's commitment to further improve the infrastructure of the area to support tourism development, with plans to improve the roads, and make electricity and water supplies more readily available.

After the official ceremony, the Governor was shown around the two new villas which have been designed to take in the stunning views of the coast and islands. Both villas have a range of luxurious amenities, as well as air conditioning and satellite TV, and are serviced by a full staff, including a cook, housekeeper and security.

Standing on the verandah of Villa Rembulan admiring the panoramic views across the bay with Mt Rinjani in the distance, someone jokingly suggested that the location would suit a new presidential palace. The Governor smiled and said that he would love to stay there if his schedule permitted. An hour after his arrival, the cavalcade swept out of the quiet bay, leaving a strong impression behind.

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GARUDA EXPANDS ITS AUSTRALIAN FLIGHTS

Garuda Indonesia is responding to the strong market from Australia to Bali by adding extra flights from Darwin, Melbourne and Sydney; with further flights from Perth anticipated.

As reported in The Lombok Guide last issue, the Manager of Garuda Indonesia in Western Australia was quoted as saying that flights between Perth and Bali are generally fully booked until the end of 2008. The Indonesian carrier currently operates Boeing 737-800 aircraft between Bali and Perth, offering 12 business class and 144 economy seats. Garuda has already increased the number of flights between Perth and Bali from 7 to 10 every week; with plans to increase frequencies to 17 flights a week in December 2008.

The number of Australians travelling to Bali in the first four months of 2008 has increased by 25.74% against the same period last year. According to Garuda's Sydney office, the largest growth in Australian traffic to Bali in the first quarter of 2008 is from Perth and Darwin (75% and 71% respectively). Demand has increased 44% from Victoria/Tasmania and 49% from New South Wales/ Australian Capital Territory.

In order to meet this burgeoning demand, Garuda Indonesia will add additional flights to their Darwin, Melbourne and Sydney to Bali routes over the coming few months.

On 25 June, a third Darwin flight will commence, departing each Wednesday and adding 134 seats to the route.
This will be followed on 22 July by the introduction of a fourth Melbourne service operating from to Melbourne on Tuesdays and returning to Bali on Wednesdays.

On 2 September, two more services will be added to the weekly Australian network. These will include a sixth flight on the Denpasar - Sydney route and a fifth flight between Melbourne and Bali.

Poerwoko Soeparyono, General Manager Australia & Southwest Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, said, "The introduction of these new services will bring an additional 1 013 seats to the Australian routes, which should go some way towards addressing the growing demand for Bali as a holiday destination.”

The additional services will bring Garuda Indonesia's weekly Australian operation to 31 flights per week from four Australian capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin, with further capacity expected on the Perth route as soon as the new Boeing 737-800NG aircraft arrive.

Effective from 22 July, a new flight from Melbourne every Wednesday will bring the total frequency of flights from Melbourne to Bali to four, departing Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

From 2 September, Sydney will receive two new flights which will operate on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Thursday flight will redirect to Melbourne as a further additional service. Thus Melbourne frequency will increase from four to five flights per week and depart daily, except Monday and Saturday.

Sydney frequency will increase to six flights per week using Airbus A330 aircraft operating every day, except Thursday. The new Tuesday and Friday flights will depart Bali just after midnight at 00:25 am and arrive in Sydney at 7:55 am the following day and depart Sydney again at 10:30 am and arrive in Bali at 3:00 pm local time.

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LOCAL SCENE

CELAR PARTY @ SQUARE RESTAURANT

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MT RINJANI MORE POPULAR THAN EVER

The popularity of Lombok's huge volcano, Mt Rinjani, has progressively increased during the past five years. During 200, a total of 9 517 people (4 452 foreign tourists and 5 065 domestic tourists) visited Lombok to climb the second highest mountain in Indonesia.

Figures starting in 2003 show that, during that year, only 4 330 people climbed Rinjani; 1 383 foreigners and 2 947 domestic. One year later in 2004, total climbers had increased by 23.09% to become 5 630. During 2005 visitors increased again, this time by 40.99 % to result in a total of 9 540 people climbing the mountain. The upward curve stalled slightly in 2006, when the mountain attracted only 9 339 climbers, but this was only a decrease of 2.15%.

Based on these figures, Mt Rinjani is clearly an important tourism destination for Lombok, as well as playing a vital role in the island's economy. In 2007, the mountain earned the State Rp 101 447 million in income from ticket sales; an increase of 44.28% on the previous year. This figure doesn't include taxes on income from businesses related to trekking, or travelling taxes.

Apart from the contribution to government taxes, the mountain is responsible for directly employing around 180 people in the Senaru and Sembalun areas, who work as guides and porters on the mountain. In addition, it is estimated that the average visitor will spend around US $500 in Lombok during a three-day climb.

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A NEW PORT FOR BALI

As reported on balidiscovery.com, construction is well underway on a new cruise port at Amuk in the Karangasem Regency of East Bali. The central government in Jakarta recently spent Rp 20 billion (US $2.2 million) adding to the Rp 10 billion (US $1.1 million) disbursed in 2007 to help build the pier and supporting facilities, which cover a 3.5 hectare site.

The total project cost is estimated at Rp 70 billion (US $7.6 million), with an anticipated completion date of 2009.
Because of the lack of a large, dedicated cruise port in Bali, most cruise vessels visiting Bali are currently required to drop anchor off Bali's East Coast and then shuttle passengers ashore in smaller tenders.

However, controversy has arisen over whether the new port will still be too small to handle the cruise ships that are now travelling in the area.

According to figures published by Nusa Bali, when completed in 2009 the Amuk berth will only be 180 metres long with a draft of 12 metres. 60 metres of berthing facility is already in hand; an additional 77 metres will come on line in 2008 and the remaining 43 metres are set for completion in 2009.

If the 180 metres pier length figure is correct, a great many of the international cruise ships currently calling on Bali will still be unable to come alongside. At only 180 metres, the Bali Amuk berthing bays will be sufficient to accommodate only small and medium-sized ships, in a cruise market increasingly dominated by larger mega-vessels.

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LOMBOK LIFE EXPECTANCY ON THE INCREASE

The average life expectancy for the local people of Lombok and Sumbawa (NTB) is only 60.5 years. However, that figure is comparatively good, when seen against the life expectancy of less than 60 years of age, which was the regional average only a decade ago. The increase in life expectancy, while still low on a world-wide scale, can be attributed to better standards of living, nutrition and health care over the past ten years as the islands' economies have improved.

Current figures show that there are 87 258 aged people in the region who are either unemployed or homeless, and are cared for in government facilities (Panti Asuhan or Panti Jompo). However this figure has also decreased over the past decade, mostly as a result of the developing economies on the two islands.

At a ceremony celebrating “National Aged Persons Day” on 30 May 2008, the NTB Governor, Lalu Serinata, said that the number of aged people being cared for in government homes had decreased, but there was still a lot that both the community and private sectors could do to help with this problem. He called on local government organisations to increase their effectiveness in helping the aged and frail to become more self-sufficient and to institute programmes that lead to better health and standard of living for the aged community. There are currently 125 government organisations in the region that care for the aged.

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YOU’VE GOTTA LAUGH!

Morris and his wife Esther went to the state fair every year, and every year Morris would say, "Esther, I'd like to ride in that helicopter."

Esther always replied, "I know Morris, but that helicopter ride is fifty dollars, and fifty dollars is fifty dollars"

One year Esther and Morris went to the fair, and Morris said, "Esther, I'm 85 years old. If I don't ride that helicopter, I might never get another chance."

To this, Esther replied, "Morris that helicopter ride is fifty dollars, and fifty dollars is fifty dollars."

The pilot overheard the couple and said, "Folks I'll make you a deal. I'll take the both of you for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word, I won't charge you! But if you say one word, it's fifty dollars."

Morris and Esther agreed and up they went. The pilot did all kinds of fancy maneuvers, but not a word was heard.

He did his daredevil tricks over and over again, but still not a word.

When they landed, the pilot turned to Morris and said, "By golly, I did everything I could to get you to yell out, but you didn't. I'm impressed!"

Morris replied, "Well, to tell you the truth, I almost said something when Esther fell out, but you know, fifty dollars is fifty dollars!

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