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ISSUE 42

PRESIDENTIAL VISIT FOR LOMBOK!

PRESIDENT LAUNCHES VISIT LOMBOK SUMBAWA 2012

WHAT'S HOT

PEACE PARK OR PUB FOR BALI BOMB SITE?

LOMBOK SEEKS WORLD PEARL MARKET FAME

21 AFGHANS ARRESTED IN WEST LOMBOK

FIRE DESTROYS FERRY AT LEMBAR

LOCAL SCENE

EU TO LIFT BLACKLISTING FOR FOUR AIRLINES

SWINE FLU PRESENT IN BALI BUT UNDER CONTROL

FLORES REJECTS GOLD MINING

INDONESIAN TOURISM ARRIVALS UP 1.69%

GILI BYTES

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PRESIDENTIAL VISIT FOR LOMBOK!

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.

As we go to print this issue, Lombok is buzzing with the visit of the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was on the island to officially launch the “Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012” tourism promotion campaign. The President, in Lombok together with no less than seven top ministers from Jakarta, has given his full support to promoting tourism in Lombok and, during his visit, also opened the 5th Annual Ecotourism Business Forum in Lombok.

What is particularly significant about this visit is that the President and his wife travelled to Lombok just two days before the nation went to the polls for the Indonesian Presidential elections on 9 July 2009, and on the day of his wife, Ani Yudhoyono's birthday… emphasising that developing Lombok is a major priority for the President and his team.

By the time our paper hits the streets, the country will have decided whether Bambang Susilo has been elected as Indonesian President for a second five-year term. If he has, that is good news for Lombok! Read our special report starting on page 10 to learn about the plans the Indonesian government has for Lombok and the region over the next few years.

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on page 40 or visit www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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PRESIDENT LAUNCHES VISIT LOMBOK SUMBAWA 2012

Sunday, 5 July and Monday, 6 July saw huge events taking place in Lombok, with a series of important launches and visits by Indonesian VIP's; in particular, incumbent Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The Santosa Villas and Resort in Senggigi hosted full day and night programmes on Sunday and Monday to launch the start of preparations for the “Visit Lombok and Sumbawa 2012” tourism promotion campaign.

Similar to the 2008 and 2009 “Visit Indonesia” national campaigns, “Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012” will see a concerted push at both local and national level to promote Lombok to the world and dramatically increase tourist arrivals to the region. Lombok and Sumbawa are the two islands that form the Nusa Tenggara Barat Province of Indonesia (commonly shortened to “NTB”). The target for Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012 is to attract one million visitors to the region.

In 2008, visitor numbers reached 500,000, with almost half of them from overseas. With a new international airport scheduled to open in 2010, the number of visitors is expected to grow significantly. The target of 1 million tourists by 2012 had not factored in the influx of visitors the new airport would generate.

Often dubbed more pristine and tranquil – and, arguably, more beautiful – than neighboring Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa are home to myriad white sandy beaches and turquoise oceans, as well as a rich marine life.
Lombok in particular is a renowned center for pearl production and trade, and is also home to Mount Rinjani, the second-highest peak in Indonesia and considered one of the best trekking spots in Asia. The beauty and natural charms of the two islands, however, are often overshadowed by the worldwide popularity of Bali, due to a lack of promotion.

On Sunday night, hundreds of local people gathered on the beachfront of Santosa Villas and Resort to participate in the launch of Visit Lombok and Sumbawa 2012 (abbreviated to VLS 2012), with Indonesian Minister for Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik officially opening the campaign.

Pak Sapta Nirwandar, Director General of Marketing for the Department, said that the national government was giving top priority to the NTB region and would be assisting in the development of Lombok and Sumbawa as national icons. More than 65 film, TV and media representatives from Java, Bali and Lombok also attended the event. “We want to sell tourism in West Nusa Tenggara. And we want to make Lombok an established center for the pearl trade and for ecotourism,” Sapta said.

“Visit Lombok Sumbawa in 2012 will create positive synergy and mutual support between tourism, business, local government, and the central government,” he continued.
During his speeches, Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik, said that Lombok and Sumbawa were two islands with huge tourism potential; at least as great as that of Bali. The Minister said that he was responsible for the 2008 “Visit Indonesia” campaign and, in retrospect, regretted that he and his team had started planning too late for maximum success of that campaign. He is determined that “VLS 2012” will be a success, and therefore planning and putting systems in place over the next three years was vital.

The Minister went on to relate how, when he attended an awards ceremony in New York where Bali was voted “The Best Island in the World”, he asked what criteria were needed to make Lombok the best island in the world. Those criteria, he said, could be summed up in five points: nature, culture, food, people and value.

“We have the nature here,” he said, “Lombok and Sumbawa has some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world. The first time I visited Kuta and Tanjung Aan on Lombok's south coast, I said to myself, 'these are the most beautiful beaches in the world'. Now we have to show them to the world!”

“The second point is culture, and NTB has a fascinating culture with the Sasak and Sumbawanese traditions like Gendang Belek and our traditional dances. So we have a culture that is as interesting as Bali's culture to show the world. Thirdly, tourists also like food, as we all do, and Lombok has fantastic food! Especially Ayam Taliwang, which I love to eat when I come to Lombok!”

“Point four is the people… and here we have to make changes over the next three years and educate our local communities to understand the importance of welcoming guests to our islands. It is vital that our local people start learning the English language, learn to smile and not be naturally shy, to be friendly and welcoming, and to show our true nature of hospitality to our guests. We have three years to make this possible.”
“Lastly, people want value for money and in Lombok and Sumbawa they will find that. Lombok already has fantastic hotels, resorts and facilities for tourists at much lower prices than in Europe, or even in Bali. NTB can easily give visitors value for money holidays.”

NTB Governor, Zainul Majdi, welcomed the initiative of the national government and said that his local government was willing and ready to do everything to develop tourism in Lombok and Sumbawa. He pledged the local government's commitment to completing the Lombok International Airport this year and to having the airport fully operational by 2010.

He also said his government would be working closely with national ministers to ensure that the controversial Emaar Properties development in South Lombok went ahead as planned. He spoke about the need to complete infrastructure projects and to move quickly to solve problems with electricity, water supplies and other infrastructure needed to support the airport and to accommodate the targeted tourist numbers.

The programme for the evening included a wonderful fashion parade of local textiles and mens' and womens' fashions designed and created in Lombok and Sumbawa. Traditional dance and music performances were top class; in particular a spectacular Gendang Belek performance, accompanied by a dramatic fireworks display. Top Indonesian artists, Tia (AFI), Eka (Bima KDI) and Sahid (KDI) also performed for the audience.

On Monday, 6 July, the excitement continued with the arrival of President Susilo Bambang and his wife Ibu Ani Yudhoyono at the Santosa Villas and Resort. Just two days before the nation went to the polls to elect a leader for the next five-year term, President Susilo Bambang took time out of his busy campaign schedule to put his official stamp of approval on the Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012 campaign. At the conference held in the Santosa convention centre, the President announced that it was also his wife's birthday that day… emphasising to the hundreds-strong crowd that Lombok was a top priority for his government.

In his speech, President Susilo declared his commitment to developing tourism in Lombok and Sumbawa and pledged his government's support in developing infrastructure in the region to facilitate this development, stating that the tourism sector will receive substantial funding from Jakarta to help build infrastructure and tourism. He publicly instructed the seven national ministers present to ensure that bureaucratic processes were kept to a minimum and that NTB projects benefited from efficient and supportive administration.

“Let's work together,” he said, addressing Lombok's top government representatives, “Governor, Vice Governor, West Lombok Regent… we form a partnership to ensure the development of NTB. We'll work together to develop infrastructure, solve electricity, water and other problems, to ensure the completion of the international airport, the Emaar development project and NTB akan terus maju dan kembang (will keep moving forward and growing)!”
Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik, said at the meeting that he was initiating a new programme to educate Lombok's young people in the tourism and hospitality industries. His department would be sending 50 young local people to Bali's top tourism and hospitality training school to learn professional hospitality skills.

“And after that 50, we'll send another 50 people, and then another 50… until we have a really professional team of skilled people to meet the needs of the developing tourism industry in Lombok,” he said.

Jero Wacik also announced at the meeting that, despite problems in the past with the proposed Emaar Properties multi-million dollar tourism development in South Lombok, he had been to Dubai and met with Emaar officials to discuss the problems and to ensure their commitment to the development.

“Meetings were also held in Jakarta to discuss the land problems and they are now resolved. The project will go ahead!” he announced.

President Susilo was also in Lombok to officially open the 5th International Ecotourism Business Forum, which also commenced on 6 July at Santosa Villas and Resort. The Forum is intended to promote Lombok as an ecotourism destination, as well as an attractive MICE (meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition) destination. This year's Forum was attended by around 20 buyers from overseas, including English, German, United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Hong Kong buyers, with 25 tourism operators selling at the Forum.

According to Sapta, with IEBF activities such as this, the tourism industry is packaged in a professional and integrated way, not only as a tourism awareness program. “Rather this is also a tourism marketing program in line with the concept of MICE marketing,” Sapta said.

The President also announced that the pearl industry in Lombok and Sumbawa was now a major export earner for the nation and that the NTB region had huge potential to become an international centre for the pearl trade.

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We stopped into our favourite seafood restaurant in the city, Seafood Nikmat, last week to sample some new additions to the menu by creative local chef and owner, William. Apart from fresh seafood every day and the best crab in Lombok, Nikmat are now offering Fresh Tuna Sashimi at the low price of Rp 55 000. A very generous serve of super fresh slices of tuna, accompanied by wasabi, Japanese soy and finely chopped fresh ginger, satisfied our cravings left over from visiting Ryoshi in Bali a couple of weeks ago. Sashimi has to be very fresh but, judging by the taste and the happy Japanese customers at the next table, Nikmat's Sashimi passes the test!

Also on offer are two new main course additions: Fresh Tuna Steaks and Tenderloin Beef Steaks. Choosing one of each, both priced at a very reasonable Rp 40 000 each, we were hard pressed to decide which was more delicious. The chunky slice of tuna was cooked to perfection – seared on the outside, slightly pink in the middle – and served with a mouth-watering creamy lemon butter sauce, sautéed potatoes and mixed vegetables. Likewise the Beef Tenderloin was cooked with skill, medium rare as requested and, unlike some local beef, surprisingly tender. Served with a delicious black pepper sauce, sautéed potatoes, broccoli and other vegetables, this is outstanding value! The presentation of both dishes was also superb… Seafood Nikmat keeps getting our vote for best city dining!

Achi Acha Boutique has now moved premises, just a few shops up from their previous location in Senggigi Plaza. The stylish boutique is now located next door to Rumah Bunga Spa, a couple of shops away from House of Pearls. This is the only boutique in Lombok that sells genuine designer labels, not copies or knock-offs! Stop in and check out the fabulous selection of Guess handbags and purses, and the ultra-stylish men's and ladies' watches… perfect for gifts to take home and at reasonable prices for the genuine article!

Dive Zone in Sekotong has been quietly achieving pioneer status for the past couple of years, opening up magnificent dive sites in the previously undiscovered waters of southwest Lombok to tourists and dive enthusiasts. With around 13 largely uninhabited islands floating in the clear blue waters off the southwest coast, there are a myriad of pristine dive sites to be explored, not to mention stunningly beautiful scenery to be enjoyed. Dive Zone is the only dive specialist in the area and also has offices in Kuta and Belongas Bay on the south coast, for adventurous dives with the possibility of seeing Hammerhead Sharks Stingrays and schooling fish. www.divezone-lombok.com

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PEACE PARK OR PUB FOR BALI BOMB SITE?

The Australian newspaper reports that some Australians are upset with rumoured plans to develop the vacant lot that once held the Sari Club into another Kuta entertainment venue.
The Sari Club and the adjacent bar at Paddy's were destroyed on 12 October, 2002, by a terrorist bomb that claimed 202 lives.

The paper reports that Balinese businessman, Kadek Wiranatha, has secured a 15 year lease on the land with plans to eventually erect a night spot.
While the necessary permits to build on the site have not been issued, any plans to build on the site would thwart plans by a group of Australians and Indonesians to acquire the lot and erect a Memorial Peace Park.

Kadek denied to The Australian reports he was building a restaurant, bar and club on the Sari Club land.
“I have not bought the land,” Kadek said. “They (the reports) are not true. I do not have a building permit.”
A permanent memorial to the Indonesians and foreigners who died on 12 October, 2002 has already been built on Kuta's main street. The memorial stands on “ground zero” and is located at about equal distance between the former Paddy's and Sari Club.

The Australian government has called for the development of the site “in a manner appropriate to the memory of the victims of the bombing.”
Efforts underway since 2002 by a group of private Australians and Indonesians to acquire the site and erect a peace park costing between AU $1.5 2.5 million have been plagued with problems.

Slow efforts to obtain tax-free status for the project and internal dissension within the membership of the voluntary peace park association has left the lot empty and open to eventual commercial development, if the proposed memorial park cannot eventually be funded.

The Australian reports that a recent meeting between the Australian Consul-General in Bali, Lex Bartlem, and Bali Governor, Made Mangku Pastika, generated “positive” support from the Balinese government for the proposed peace park.

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LOMBOK SEEKS WORLD PEARL MARKET FAME

West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) is keen to become an international pearl market centre, Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi said on Thursday, 2 July. Lombok in particular is a renowned center for pearl production and trade, and quality pearls are also being produced on farms in Sumbawa.
Speaking during the launch of the “Visit Lombok and Sumbawa 2012” tourism campaign in Jakarta, Majdi said that the pearl industry in the province's two main islands – Lombok and Sumbawa – had been rapidly growing since the 1990s.

“The quality and the characteristics of the waters in Lombok and Sumbawa are suitable for pearl farming,” the Governor said, adding that the pearls were now exported to several countries, including Spain and Japan – two other key pearl producing centres.
“Pearls have become the new icon of our province and we want to bring this up to an international level,” Majdi said.

“The pearl industry in our province covers both upstream and downstream aspects, from culturing to finished products such as bracelets, rings and necklaces,” he added.
Pearl farming in Lombok and Sumbawa islands thrive in coastal areas facing the Flores Sea, and the industry has grown so much that pearls are now one of the top souvenirs sought by tourists visiting the area.

At the centre of Mataram, the capital of the province, the Karang Genteng village has become an important pearl market, according to the Governor.
On Sunday and Monday, Lombok hosted the 5th International Ecotourism Business Forum, which was attended by sellers and buyers from 11 countries such as Korea, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, England and France.
“This is the first step to promoting our icon to the world,” Majdi said.

At the launch of the Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012 campaign in Lombok, Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik, reinforced this ambition to become a world centre for the pearl trade.
“Lombok and Sumbawa are now exporting pearls around the world. We have a growing industry that can benefit from our support in creating even better quality pearls that will be sought throughout the world, much in the same way as Japan. We are already looking at ways to make NTB into a world centre for pearl production and marketing,” he said.

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21 AFGHANS ARRESTED IN WEST LOMBOK

The West Lombok police arrested 21 illegal Afghan immigrants, all men, on Tuesday, 23 June, at a hotel in Lingsar district, West Lombok.
“They did not hold passports and visas. They only showed a UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) note saying they were under the supervision of UNHCR,” West Lombok Police Chief, Agus Supriyanto, said.

He said the immigrants, from Jakarta, flew from Surabaya, East Java, to Mataram on the previous Sunday night.
The immigrants had planned to pass through Flores, East Nusa Tenggara and Rote Island before reaching their final destination in Australia, Agus added.

“From Rote, they planned to go by cargo ship to Australia,” he said. The two East Lombok residents, identified as Marzuki and Suyatman, who had helped the immigrants, will be charged under the immigration law for providing facilities to illegal immigrants.

Both residents may face up to five years in prison and Rp 25 million (US $2,500) in fines.

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FIRE DESTROYS FERRY AT LEMBAR

A passenger ferry berthed at Lembar Harbour, West Lombok, burst into flames on Saturday, 27 June, but no fatalities occurred.

The ship, Nusa Sejahtera, was undergoing repairs when the fire began. At least 12 of its passenger cabin rooms were destroyed.

West Lombok fire-fighting chief, Lalu Ramdan, said his office sent two fire engines to the scene and extinguished the blaze within 30 minutes. Lembar port chief, M Thahrir, said it was suspected the source of the fire was sparks from a welding job.

“The crew members were repairing the upper deck. Sparks from the welding may have fallen into one of the passenger rooms and started the fire,” Thahrir said, adding that the fire spread quickly because there were mattresses inside the passenger rooms.

Thahrir said the harbour administrative office would investigate the incident and question the crew members, technicians and captain.

The gutted Nusa Sejahtera was among 17 ferries serving the Lembar-Padangbai route between Lombok and Bali.

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LOCAL SCENE

Stammtisch @ Asmara Restaurant

Great food, good company and live music can be enjoyed at Stammtisch, every Friday night at Asmara Restaurant... Come and join the fun!

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EU TO LIFT BLACKLISTING FOR FOUR AIRLINES

The Indonesian State News Agency Antara reports that the European Union (EU) blacklisting of all Indonesian airlines, in place since 2007, is about to be lifted for at least four Indonesian carriers. The decision clears the way for Indonesian-flagged air passenger services to commence sometime in the first half of 2010.
The four airlines reportedly recommended for getting a “green light” to enter European airspace are Garuda Indonesia, Mandala, Air Fast and Premi Air.

Press reports say that the ban affecting the four airlines will be lifted in the coming weeks.
This is based on recommendations issued during a meeting of the EU Safety Committee in Belgium that ended on Thursday, 2 July, 2009.
Traditionally, decisions issued by EU commissions must be translated into the 22 official languages of the UN before they can be officially rendered by the EU's Commission for Transportation Affairs.

Garuda has greeted the EU decision by declaring its intention to resume European service early in 2010 through the re-introduction of their flights between Indonesia and Amsterdam.
In delaying the resumption of European flights until early 2010, Garuda says that 9 months are needed for the necessary preparations to resume European services.

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SWINE FLU PRESENT IN BALI BUT UNDER CONTROL

New cases of suspected and confirmed H1N1 infections have become almost a daily occurrence in Bali, with more than 9 people – all foreign visitors – having been treated in the isolation ward of Bali's Sanglah General Hospital.

Officially acknowledged as a worldwide epidemic and with neighbouring Australia reporting more than one thousand cases, Bali is virtually certain to see more cases reported before the illness runs its global course.
Free medical care to sufferers, disinfecting and health screening of arriving aircraft and their passengers, a large supply of Tamiflu to treat sufferers and the distribution of protective masks are among the preventative measures now put in place by Bali authorities determined to minimise the spread of the disease.

But, despite these measures, Bali's Governor was quoted in NusaBali, admitting that Bali's popularity as an international tourism destination makes it difficult to stop the disease from eventually spreading on the island.
Among the most recent new patients admitted to Sanglah are Troels Monk, 84 years, Denmark, admitted on 2 July; Michael Aaron, 24 years, Australian; Ryan Wood, 23 years, Australian; Ariel S. Brian, 22 years, Australian; Gerry O'Brian, 43 years, German; Tayla Mari, 14 years, Australian; James Antonucciu, 10 years, Australian; George Coltman, 12 years, Australian and Bobbie Masoner, 22 years, English but resident in Australia.

As of Thursday, 2 July, 2009, six of the nine patients were still warded in the Nusa Indah isolation unit at Sanglah Hospital. The remainder have been treated, declared no longer a threat to public health and released.
The governor has instructed all government agencies and the general public in Bali to cooperate in trying to control the spread of the H1N1 virus and prevent its spread to the local population in Bali.

No downturn in business has been linked to a fear of contracting the disease among inbound visitors to Bali.
Worldwide, there appears to be a growing acceptance that, recognised and treated in a timely manner, H1N1 infections are seldom fatal, despite a momentary surge in deaths linked to cases in Mexico at the beginning of the current outbreak.

The provincial government of Bali has allocated approximately US $1 million from a special emergency fund to be used to combat the disease.
This money is being used to pay for health surveillance teams, treating those suffering from the disease, purchasing Tamiflu and protective surgical masks.

Visitors to Bali from infected countries are being asked to consider using free surgical masks during the first three days of their stay in Bali, after which, symptom-free visitors can be considered free of the H1N1 virus.

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FLORES REJECTS GOLD MINING

Early exploration work by a joint Indonesian-Chinese mining venture covering a 2,000 hectare site in Flores is causing public outrage.
The site at Batu Gosok, just 5 km north of the district capital of Labuhan Bajo, and adjoining the World Heritage Site of the Komodo National Park, is generating widespread international protests from those who fear the proposed mining venture will threaten one of the world's few remaining nature spots and home to a number of protected water and land species.

Another exploration site, at the nearby village of Tedebo, 10 km east of Labuan Bajo, sits in a protected forest area, home to the headwaters of the Waismese River, a major fresh water river that flows through spectacular canyons before emptying into the Komodo Sea near Labuhan Bajo.
The Batu Gosok and Tebedo Gold Mining projects have evoked heated exchanges in the local press and rare demonstrations from local citizens against the local Regent, who is accused of surreptitiously issuing licenses for exploration in violation of local zoning plans without first undertaking environmental impact studies and public hearings, as required by law.

Among those groups vocal in opposing the mining project are members of the West Flores Tourism Forum and leaders of the Catholic Church, representing the predominant religious group in Flores.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Ruteng and the self-named “Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation” (JPIC), headed by Father Max Regus, have drawn firm battle lines with the Regent of West Manggarai, Fidelis Pranda. Citing numerous violations of local law and threats to the local population embodied by the Regent's decision to grant exploration permits, the priests have gone so far as to question the Christian ethics of their fellow Roman Catholic, Fidelis Pranda.

When the Regent vigorously responded by questioning the Church's involvement in temporal affairs, calling the priests “provocateurs” in the mining issue, the protesting priests were joined by Catholic Clergy from across the whole of Flores and a Diaspora of 135 Florenese priests and religious missionaries from more than 35 countries around the world.
The Flores missionaries, citing the danger posed to the island's natural environment and traditional culture, issued an open statement calling for an immediate cessation to all mining activities in Flores and the restoration of any damage caused by mining activities to date.

Flores growing tourism sector has joined the opposition to mining in the district. The West Flores Tourism Forum (WFTF), which includes local hotels, tour and dive operators serving Labuhan Bajo and the adjacent Komodo National Park, have unanimously condemned the project, labelling mining as incompatible with efforts to create an environmentally sustainable tourism industry in West Flores and Komodo. The Vice Chairman of the WFTF, Marius Sarain, quoted in the Flores Post, said: “The stance of the forum is clear and final: we reject mining. This is non-negotiable.”

Saridin also pointed to the sad irony of the Indonesian national government's current efforts to have the Komodo National Park named in a list of the seven top natural wonders of the world while, at the same time, a mining project threatening irreparable environmental destruction and pollution of the surrounding seas is being contemplated at the very gateway to the Park.

The general lack of support for the mining project in West Flores, the battle lines now firmly drawn between Regent Pranda and the Catholic Church, and the final disposition of 10 separate pending corruption charges filed against the Regent by district lawmakers with Indonesia's National Anti-Corruption Agency last February may have severely damaged the political fortunes of Fidelis Pranda, who must stand for re-election in 2010.

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INDONESIAN TOURISM ARRIVALS UP 1.69%

Bisnis.com quotes Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, who points to the latest arrival statistics as proof that the world financial crisis is having minimum impact on the national tourism sector. Speaking in Bandung, West Java, Wacik said, “The graph showing this increase is heartening because it happens in the middle of a crisis and while visitors to several other tourism destinations have decreased.”

Citing countries that have gained momentum during the January - May period, Minister Wacik counted off increases in arrivals from the following source markets: Australia (26.25%), China (18.96%) and Malaysia (16.81%). “If the current trend continues, I am optimistic that the 2009 target can be achieved,” Wacik added.
Indonesia is targeting 6.7 million foreign visitors for the entire year of 2009. Despite the Ministers stated optimism, a steady growth rate in arrivals of 1.69% would only result in 5.6 million arrivals in 2009.

The modest increase in tourism arrivals for Indonesia has taken place while, in the neighbouring destination of Singapore, arrivals decreased 11.8% – a decrease of 401,957 during the period January-April. Tourism arrivals have also declined by 19.69% to Thailand and 27.2% to Japan.

However, the Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA), Ben Sukma, has expressed pessimism that the national target of 6.7 million foreign visitors for all of Indonesia in 2009 won't be achieved.
Quoted in Bali Post, Sukma said: “Anywhere in the world where there is a national election, tourism visitors automatically avoid that destination out of fear of possible conflict. So how can we achieve this target?”

Ben defended his pessimistic view by pointing to arrivals in 2008 when Indonesia's situation was calm and peaceful and was supported by the “Visit Indonesian Year 2008” campaign. In that relatively conducive situation, Indonesia achieved only 6.23 million foreign tourists who spent an estimated US $7.5 billion dollars. In that year, Indonesia's tourism arrivals fell short of the targeted 7 million set by the government, but did manage to improve over 2007 when 5.51 million foreign visitors came to the country.

In seeming contradiction to Sukma's pessimistic outlook, Bali hotels are reporting high occupancies with record number of visitors coming to the island.
The prestigious STR Global, a world leader in benchmarking hotel performance, has singled out Bali's hotel industry as a star performer in a world hotel market currently dominated by under performers.
Year-on-year measurements for May showed Asia-Pacific hotel occupancies dropped between 14.9% to 55.44%, while Bali managed to actually improve occupancy levels during the same period.

The average daily rate (ADR) of hotels within the Asia-Pacific regions declined 15.2% to US $117.86 in May. This, however, was not the case in Bali where ADR increased 18.5% to US $127.83.
STR Global identified Bangkok, Beijing, Phuket and Shanghai as registering occupancies below 50% in May with reasons ranging from post-Olympic over supply (Beijing), political uncertainty (Phuket and Bangkok) and a declining economy (Shanghai).

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GILI BYTES

Great news for fit and healthy people on Gili Trawangan with the opening of the Trawangan Club scheduled for 25 July. The Club, the only one of its kind on the Gilis, is located at the luxurious Kelapa Villas in the north of the island. Clubhouse facilities include a fully-equipped gymnasium and weight training equipment, Spa, air-conditioned restaurant with free WiFi internet, changing rooms and reception. The club also has its own outdoor professional tennis court.

Membership with full club facilities, or gym only and tennis only options are available, at very reasonable rates. Weekly, monthly and annual memberships are also available – great for visitors and residents on the island! For casual visitors, day use, with Full Club privileges, is only Rp 100 000; a one-day gym pass costs Rp 50 000, or tennis court hire is available for Rp 80 000 per hour.

The first day of the Trawangan Club Tennis Tournament and Grand Opening take place on Saturday, 25 July… like we say, Gili T just keeps getting better! Contact 0812 375 6003 for details.

ko ko mo Gili Trawangan Resort has built a new turtle hatchery on the beach, with help from funds donated by a recent delighted guest. Housing 30 young turtles aged between 5 days and 3 months old, the youngest ko ko mo residents are thriving in their new habitat and attracting a lot of attention. The Resort has pledged that all donations made by guests will go to the further development of turtle conservation on Gili Trawangan. The first ko ko mo turtle release, when the hatchlings are healthy and strong enough to be released back into the wild, is scheduled for around September. It had to happen… the logo for the resort is a turtle and we hear turtles love coming up onto their stretch of beach! www.kokomogilit.com

Ever wanted to go sailing around those fabulous Gili Islands with a cold drink in hand at sunset? Now it's possible, with Bulan Purnama offering Sunset Cruises around the Gilis every evening. The company uses their delightful traditional wooden Phinisi boat from Sulawesi for the cruises whenever possible. At times when the Phinisi is out on charters, another suitable craft will be used. Whichever boat is used, several hours of cruising around the beautiful islands sipping wine or beer and nibbling on gourmet snacks for the all inclusive price of Rp 450 000 is fantastic value! Bulan Purnama can also organise pick up and drop off transfers from Teluk Nara on the mainland and any of the Gili islands. Call into their office next to Scallywags for info and bookings.

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