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Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

There's much excitement in The Lombok Guide office this fortnight as we are busily distributing the second edition of our annual full colour magazine. Following the success of our 2008 magazine, this year's “The Lombok Guide 2009 Magazine” contains 80 glossy pages of useful information about Lombok and beautiful photos by talented local photographers of our island in all its glory.

5000 copies of the magazine will be distributed over the next week to international travel agents throughout Europe, Britain, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Japan and other countries. Copies will also be available from Garuda, Merpati, Trans Nusa, Trigana and Gili Cat offices and selected travel agencies in Bali.
If you are planning a holiday to Lombok soon, ask your travel agent for a copy.

Despite the promises of the Department of Culture and Tourism, NTB, the government has once again failed to support this project financially and The Lombok Guide 2009 Magazine has been funded entirely through the generous support of Lombok's hotels and businesses.

While the government may be complacent about promoting Lombok internationally, we at The Lombok Guide and those of us who live here are delighted to tell the world about Lombok and to provide overseas agents with the tools they need to market Lombok as a destination!

And why not?! With a local culture that is rich and fascinating, a world-famous volcano providing spectacular trekking opportunities, the Gili Islands offering exceptional diving, and an environment that is simply stunning in its natural beauty, there are so many reasons to visit Lombok!

Come and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself … like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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If you happened to drop in to The Office Bar and Restaurant in Senggigi for a sunset drink on a recent Wednesday afternoon, you may have been surprised to see an unlikely group of people. For this was a birthday party with a difference.

The Rotary Club of Mataram, Lombok, turned 21 this month. To celebrate the event, club members shared a delicious meal with local families and children who have benefited from one of the Club's service programs: cleft lip operations. For 21 years, young and old, men and women, Indonesian and expatriate; residents from the international and Indonesian community have come together regularly as members of The Rotary Club of Mataram, giving back to the local community. And what better way to celebrate than to get together with some of the children who recently received cleft lip operations, arranged and sponsored by the club?

In the words of Howard Singleton, Club President: “To see the smiles on the kids' faces… this is what it's all about; this is our reward!”

Lombok is known as a holiday island – and with good reason; some of the best beaches and natural scenery in Indonesia coupled with a vibrant culture and relaxed lifestyle. But life is not a holiday for the many poor villagers on the island. This is why the Rotary Club of Mataram, Lombok was established in 1987: to find ways for the more fortunate members of our community, expatriate and Indonesian, to help those less fortunate. One of the most successful activities in recent years has been the cleft lip operations.

Working together with the Rotary Club of Gent, in Belgium and the local “We Care Foundation” (Yayasan Kita Peduli), the Rotary Club of Mataram has managed to provide life-changing cleft lip operations to 115 children and young people. Teams of European doctors donate their time to work together with their local counterparts to perform the operations.

During one week in October 2008, the team performed 37 operations, working from dawn to dusk every day. For what? Because it is a job worth doing. The doctors are able to make a big difference in the lives of people in Lombok. In the words of one of the team: “This is not a hand out, it's a hand up…”

For the children and families who attended the birthday party, no doubt life is still hard; a daily grind of work and chores. For many there is never quite enough money to meet the family needs. But thanks to the efforts of the Rotary Club the children now have something very precious – they have their dignity.

The youngest in the group, a small 18 month old girl, gave a shy smile as she ate her ice cream. The pale scar on her lip is the only evidence of the disfiguring condition she suffered until her operation six months ago. In another few years, the scar too will be gone. Another 10 year old grinned as her photo was taken. Her proud mother smiled and said that, until her operation in October, her daughter had never smiled. “Now she can go to school like normal children”, she said.

In addition to the cleft lip operations, the Rotary Club has provided clean water to over 1,500 families through a low-tech water filter system. Through its links to clubs in other parts of the world, the club is able to attract funds and support for these and other programs. The club arranges youth exchanges and is part of the international effort to eradicate polio worldwide. And if all that is not enough, Rotary also supports the education of local children and has built toilet blocks providing the first proper sanitation for many schools and communities around Lombok.

So, as the sun dropped low behind Gunung Agung across the Lombok Straits, the sky turned a wild shade of orange, and for a few moments this unlikely group celebrated a birthday and the common humanity that makes us all the same; expatriates, local Indonesian businesspeople and a few startled tourists, together with Lombok villagers, mums, dads, uncles and kids with brand new smiles.

The Rotary Club of Mataram was established in 1987. Members meet on Wednesdays, 5.00 pm at The Office Bar and Restaurant in Senggigi. Meetings are not too formal; a social event as well as an opportunity to organise service programs in Lombok.

Why don't you get involved in the Rotary Club and its mission to help to improve the quality of life of the local community? If you would like to know more about the club, contact Howard Singleton on 08123757740 or Club Secretary, Lily Heyder on 081339599154.

Copyright © 2009 Mark Heyward. Mark is an international education consultant who lives and works in Lombok.

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There's a reason why Qunci Villas enjoys high occupancy rates all year round… this pair of stylish resorts in Mangsit always gets it so right! Now the ever-growing empire has acquired the land alongside the original Qunci Villas and taken a leaf out of the Amanwana Moyo Resort book, setting up luxurious tents on the beachfront.
Of course, these are no ordinary tents, but spacious and elegant pavilions perched on wooden decking only metres from the sea. One area comprises a spa, perfect for couples wanting total privacy while having a massage or spa treatment; while the other side features a private table, complete with personal waiter service, for dining by candlelight with just a loved one and the sound of the waves on the shore for company. Alternatively, book the pavilion for a private group or party and wow your friends in style! Delicious food, elegant surroundings, superb service… it's all too Qunci-licious! www.quncivillas.com

While on stylish resorts, ko- ko- mo Gili Trawangan Resort has opened its doors to a great response and has been providing discerning diners with deliciously unique food since mid-April. Watch out for their fortnightly free sunset drinks and canapés on the beach, while checking out the divine luxury villas with pools and Jacuzzis. Book now for high season, as they are filling up fast since the word hit Bali and Lombok! www.kokomogilit.com

Businesses on Gili Trawangan have an enjoyed a bumper start to the year but haven't neglected their commitment to the local school. In early April, 60 brand new desks and benches were delivered to the Sekolah Desa (local school) on Gili T by generous businesses sharing their good fortune.

Black Pearl is the newest and sleekest fast boat bringing visitors from Bali to Lombok and the Gilis. Leaving Serangan Harbour at the reasonable time of 08.30am and arriving on the beach at Gili Trawangan at 10.45, this unique 14.5 meter fishing cruiser provides complimentary breakfast, and standard and first class seating. Drinks are also available on board. With a capacity to carry 20 people, this is a new one to watch – book early! www.bluewatercruises.com

Still on boats, now you can explore the amazing islands off the southwest coast, directly from Senggigi! Scorpio, a 9m speedboat outfitted for up to 11 passengers, is operated by Secret Island Resort on the big island of Gili Gede, and offers transfers from Senggigi to the southwest islands in around 2 hours. This is the first time a boat has been available to explore the southwest islands – particularly Gili Nanggu, Gili Gede and Gili Ringgit – with fishing, island-hopping and snorkelling tours available, and return transfers or accommodation packages at Secret Island Resort. Scorpio is also available for fishing charters of all kinds at very reasonable prices. Return trips from Senggigi to Gili Nanggu or Gili Gede cost just Rp 360 000 per person (min 4 pax)… what a great day trip and a fantastic new service to open up these undeveloped islands! www.secretislandresort.com

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The government has announced it will build two coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 75 megawatts in Lombok Island.

The project was officially opened by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, on Thursday, 30 April, 2009.

The ministry installed the first tower at the construction area which totals 32 hectares. He was accompanied by the Director of the State-owned electricity company (PLN) Fahmi Muhtar, and the Governor of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Muhammad Zainul Madjdi.

The power plants will be located in Taman and Jeranjang hamlets in the village of Kebon Ayu, in Gerung district, West Lombok. The first power plant, named PLTU 1 Lombok-NTB, has a capacity of 25 megawatts. The second one, PLTU 2 Lombok-NTB, has a capacity of 2x25 megawatts.

The 75-megawatt plant is funded by the state budget and PLN. The state budget allocated Rp 296,287 billion for one plant with 25 megawatt capacity while PLN allocated US $30,787 million and Rp 354,295 billion.

It is expected that the plants can cover the electricity needs in the region that has been in deficit of 10,000 megawatt for several years.

“The electricity demand increases 10 percent every year,” said the minister.
Both power plants will use low rank coal for their fuel. They will need about 195,000 tonnes of coal per year.

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Mt Baru Jari, the volcanic cone in Mt Rinjani's caldera, has suddenly come to life, forcing the temporary closure of trekking to the peak and the lake at the popular tourist destination in North Lombok. The status of the volcanic activity has now been raised to Level 2 Alert which advises no activity or human occupation within 4km of the eruption point.

Baru Jari volcano (2,376 meters) sprung to life on Monday, 27 April, 2009 with an eruption that sprayed the area with volcanic ash. Since then, it has continued to rumble, escalating on 2 May with a series of large explosions within 15 minutes.

The Head of Mining and Energy Services for Nusa Tenggara Barat, Heryadi Rachmat, confirmed that the eruptions on 2 May took place at 3:50 pm local time, with second and third explosions coming at intervals of five minutes. He said his agency recorded four tectonic quakes in the area on the following morning, lasting between 70 seconds and 120 seconds each.

Observers at the scene report that a small crater has emerged on the eastern face of the mountain.
Volcanic ash clouds have been measured to an altitude of 8,000 meters causing local aircraft to steer well clear of the mountain. A thin layer of volcanic ash has blanketed Senaru village located on the foothills of the volcano.

Rachmat, accompanied by government geologists and volcanologists, confirmed to the press that the National Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation agency has hiked Mt Rinjani to monitor the crater and seismographic equipment has now been moved in closer proximity to the volcano in order to better monitor future developments.
Experts report that the current state of the volcano poses no imminent threat to local populations. Baru Jari volcano last erupted in 2004, when it spewed lava and volcanic dust, but did not cause injury or loss of life.

Previously Baru Jari also spread thick ash in 1944, 1966 and 1994. The frequent eruptions are believed to be the result of gas accumulation and will not lead to bigger explosions. Mt Baru Jari is surrounded by Segara Anak Lake, a popular destination for Mt Rinjani hikers.

Local authorities temporarily closed Mt Rinjani, the second tallest volcano in Indonesia (3,726m), to trekkers on Sunday, 3 May. Head of the Mt Rinjani National Park, Arief Toengkagie, said his officers have been deployed along hiking routes to prevent hikers from entering the volcano area. However, it has been reported that trekkers are still being permitted to hike to the shoulder of the mountain to observe the eruptions. Face masks, goggles or glasses to protect against ash, and the assistance of qualified guides and porters are essential for this trek.

Every year an average of 9,000 people hike the mountain, 4,000 of them foreign tourists, mostly from Australia, European and Asian countries. The mountain is being considered for Geopark and World Natural Heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

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The Department of Animal Husbandry and Health West Nusa Tenggara (Dinas Peternakan dan Kesehatan Hewan, NTB) conducted a spraying programme at pig farms and villages that keep pigs in Mataram and surrounding areas, starting on Thursday, 30 April.

Spraying programmes have also been carried out in the sub-province of Kuripan in west Lombok, where there are many Balinese communities living.

The spraying programme uses an industrial disinfectant similar to that used to control bird flu, and is effective against H1N1 virus. Animal cages and homes in the susceptible areas are being sprayed.

The Head of the Department said there had been no cases of Swine Flu in Lombok and there is little likelihood of the disease entering the area, except by being carried in by an infected tourist, as there is no formal pig farming in the region. Pigs are not normally imported into NTB (Lombok and Sumbawa) although they are occasionally transported from Lombok to the islands in the east.

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Experts Tell the Government to Lower Taxes in Order to Close Down Black Markets, Increase Tax Revenues and Gain a Modicum of Control Over National Liquor Consumption Patterns.

The Monday, May 4, 2009 edition of the Jakarta Post reports that analysts have branded the current high import tax regime on alcoholic beverages as a policy failure that has “neither discouraged consumption nor maximized revenues” and, as many had predicted, has “fostered a thriving black market.”

Two scholars from Jakarta's prestigious Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Dionisius A Narjoko and Teguh Yudo said current alcohol taxes of 500%, among the highest in the world, have “failed to bring about the optimal outcome of generating revenue and protecting public health.”

The two researchers have recommended to the government that the alcohol tax be reduced and any new tariff be based on alcoholic content as opposed to value. The current attempt by the government to tax the value of alcoholic beverages has fomented a system rife with misrepresentation and under-invoicing.

Not surprisingly, the total tax revenue of only US $5.8 million collected in 2008 by the sole government importer underlines, according to the researchers, that a large black market exists in smuggled alcohol. Government estimates of the size of the black market is equivalent to 60% of all alcohol consumed and represents lost tax revenues of Rp 1.5 trillion (US $1.3 billion).

The report also suggests that high taxes do not curb alcohol consumption and, in fact, have been linked to increased usage of low-quality liquor that endangers human life. The government estimates that more than 60 people died from home-made liquor consumption in 2008.

The CSIS report blamed a lack of government knowledge of the alcoholic beverages sector as being at the root of the failed importation policy, which has made the Indonesian tourism sector non-competitive with other destinations in the region.

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Around 50 expatriate Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders gathered
around the beautiful pool at The Beach Club to welcome new Australian
Consul General (Bali), Lex Bartlem

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Lombok's local government could learn something from their counterparts in Bali with the provincial tourism authority of Bali (Disparda) pledging to get tough on unlicensed guides operating on the island, and planning to dispatch enforcement teams to capture and prosecute illegal guides.

The Chief of Bali tourism, Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu, told Bisnis Bali that each enforcement team will be comprised of 14-15 persons drawn from his office, the Bali police, state prosecutors and related agencies.

Insisting that his office is committed to cracking down on illegal guides but is keeping tight lipped on the specific dates and locations for the planned sweeping operation to apprehend errant guides, Subhiksu has, however, commented separately that the initial operations against illegal guides would focus initially on two regencies and one municipality: Badung, Gianyar and Denpasar.

The head of the Badung regency tourism office, Drs I Putu Budiasa, said he hoped the tourism offices of the respective regencies would be invited to join the enforcement teams in order to benefit from their local knowledge. Citing one example from his own jurisdiction, Budiasa said the sweeping teams need to move against unlicensed guides working at the Bali Museum in downtown Denpasar. His efforts to bring illegal guides in the past has been thwarted by the fact that only the provincial government has the legal authority to move against illegal guides operating within the regencies.

Those wishing to qualify as licensed guides in Bali must be local residents, meet minimum educational standards, and successfully complete a series of training courses provide by the province of Bali. There are currently an estimated 8,000 licensed guides living in Bali.

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Bisnis.com has quoted Al Purwa, Chairman of the Bali branch of ASITA (Indonesian Association of Travel Agents), as bemoaning the lack of proper tourism management by the Indonesian government, which has resulted in minimal returns for Bali’s tourism economy despite rising arrival numbers.

“The weakness of our tourism product is due to the fact that the tourism operators are not ‘solid’. Meanwhile, the local government pays little attention to issues of supply and demand in granting new business permits, which results in unhealthy competition in the market place,” Purwa said.

As reported on Balidiscovery.com, Bali foreign tourist arrivals continue to buck global trends, operating in record territory for the first quarter of 2009.

However, according to Purwa, despite record arrivals the increase in average occupancy rates among Bali hotels has been very modest, reflecting the overall problem of the government’s refusal to address supply-side issues. New hotel and villa permits are issued and new travel agencies are licensed without any effort on the government’s part to protect existing travel operators.

Admitting that the meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition business (MICE) continues apace and that more Chinese tourists flow to Bali, Purwa said the level of expenditure within the tourism sector is falling below expectations.

To illustrate his complaint that the Bali tourism industry is less than “solid” the ASITA Chairman cited how Chinese guides handling that market demand high fees from travel agencies already laboring under the burden of narrow profit margins.

Purwa also alluded to Macau and neighbouring countries in the region that are prepared to subsidise tourism products and spend generously on promotion, while Indonesia under spends badly in those areas.
Lamenting the sad current state of affairs, Al Purwa is saddened by the fact that after trying to develop tourism for four decades, some 137,000 Balinese still live below the poverty line. Macau, on the other hand, has spent less than 10 years developing its tourism industry and manages to attract 20 million foreign tourists every year -- a figure targeted by Macau to grow to 50 million within 5 years.

Purwa is also critical of how tourism promotion funds are spent by Indonesia’s Department of Culture and Tourism, saying how those fund’s final use is not transparent and, as a result, difficult for tourism industry members to ascertain the effectiveness of current promotion programs.
“Do we want to chase statistics or make tourism a means to improve the peoples’ welfare?” Purwa asked.

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The Gili Eco Trust has been busy over the past month with new programmes to teach local university students to dive, land and sea clean ups, and the construction of a new Biorock structure off Gili Air.

The Gili Eco Trust is one way that western business operators and the local community work together to raise awareness on the islands and help protect the environment from unnecessary damage. The Eco Trust is involved in community awareness programmes, anchorage and mooring buoys, fishing agreements, snorkelling and diving activities, water-sports, and the highly successful Biorock projects, which are used to create artificial reefs around the Gilis.

Five students from Mataram University received SSI Open Water Diver Certificates after two weekends spent on Gili Trawangan learning how to dive with Gili Eco Trust. Delphine, Eco Trust coordinator, taught the students in Bahasa Indonesia, using SSI materials. The students have been taking part in a programme that educates local students about the precious underwater world and conservation of the environment.

In April, the Eco Trust was responsible for new “No Anchor, No Boat” moorings that have been placed off Gili Trawangan to help to protect the Biorock reefs from irresponsible boat captains dropping anchor off shore. The new moorings also help to locate the Biorock structures for people who are snorkelling in the areas. Unfortunately, some people are still dropping anchor in the shallows reefs around Gili T... sometimes 10 meters from these signs!

April also saw the construction of a new Biorock reef off Gili Air. The artificial reef system has been placed in the ocean in front of Blue Marlin Dive, Gili Air. This latest Biorock structure was financed by Jakarta International School and was offered to Blue Marlin Gili Air by Mike Miron, a teacher at Jakarta International School. Children from the International School have been coming to the Gilis, usually once or twice a year for the past several years, to learn how to dive and to study island ecosystems. Their last dives were focused on the Biorock project, collecting coral, cleaning algae and learning about the Biorock technology.

The students previously visited Gili Trawangan, as there are many Biorock structures already installed there. When teacher, Mike, heard about the last Biorock workshop held in December 2008, he registered for himself and donated US $1200 to make a new Biorock reef on Gili Air with materials left over from the workshop.

The Gili Air Biorock reef was built it in one day with Sol (Marine Biologist master degree student) and volunteers from Big Bubble Dive on Gili T. The team connected the cables and brought everything to Gili Air, where they dropped the tunnel at 8 meters in front of Blue Marlin with the help of Rukding, a diving instructor with Blue Marlin who also attended the workshop last December, and other Blue Marlin staff.

In a massive team effort, the power supply and cables were connected and turned on within the same day. Half an hour later the team dived again and could already see bubbles starting to form and a thin white layer of limestone starting to cover the steel!

Then, on Friday 24 April, the Eco Trust organised a “Land and Underwater Clean Up Day” on Gili Trawangan. Volunteers received a plastic bag and gloves to collect rubbish from around the island (on the beach and in the village). Those who returned to the dive shop with a bag full of rubbish received a free dive (to collect more rubbish from under the water). The Clean Up Day was a big success and the Eco Trust hopes to organise one every month. If you would like to help out, Delphine says anyone can register, get a bag and gloves, clean a bit of the island (beach or village), and then get a free dive to collect more rubbish! Or just enjoy looking at the fish if there is no plastic in the area!

As part of their Clean Up programme, the Gili Eco Trust has just donated four big rubbish bins on wheels to the local school on Gili Trawangan. They are happy to start showing the good example to local children to “put it in the bin!”
The Eco Trust reports that the ocean temperature is really warm at the moment, with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius for over 3 weeks and the team is worried for the coral. If these temperatures continue, the coral will start bleaching soon and badly affect parts of the reef systems.  

The Gili Eco Trust relies on donations from local businesses, divers and snorkellers to fund their projects. If you would like to help, please contact Delphine at Big Bubble Dive or phone 0813 3960 0553.

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