Chinese Checkers who Cheat
As Bali Tries to Entice Chinese Tourists, Widespread Extortion Alleged by Customs and Immigration Officials at Ngurah Rai Airport
The Chinese Consul in Bali has made formal protests against the large number of Chinese tourists who are encountering harassment and extortion during the immigration and customs process at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport.
The official complaints from the People Republic of China’s top official in Bali comes as the Indonesian National Flag Carrier – Garuda Indonesia embarks on an unprecedented number of charter flights to China over the 2015 Lunar New Year period.
As reported by Beritabali.com, the Chinese Consul in Bali issued his protest on poor treatment of Chinese travellers at the Island’s airport to the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin) committee on international trade with China and ASEAN.
Rudyanto of KADIN-Bali confirmed that the Chinese Consul objected to the behaviour of immigration and customs officials who use Chinese passports and items of personal luggage as a pretext to request illegal bribes.
Rudyanto explained to Beritabali.com: “Their belongings are confiscated without cause by Customs officials. If the items were narcotic no one would object. But they are told to pay certain amounts to the official or risk that customs officials will arbitrarily confiscate their personal belongings. This makes for a very negative first impression. In other destinations, such as Singapore, officials do not act in this way.”
Rudyanto admitted such behaviour by Customs officials at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport does not come as a surprise, with extortion something of a “public secret” at Bali’s airport. He said officials do not hesitate to use their personal prerogatives of power to confiscate belongings and demand illegal payments.
Continuing, Rudyanto said: “The customs officials at Ngurah Rai Airport working at this time are largely composed of young people who act like cowboys. My friend in KADIN, Dolly Sutajaya who is the chairman of the Bali Textile Association, was told items for use in handicraft production could not be imported and asked to pay Rp. 1.5 million. Dolly paid this amount rather than be hassled. If one of our own people is treated this way, what happens to others?”
Rudyanto asked customs official not to use minor problems to make entry to Bali difficult for Chinese tourist visitors, especially those who can’t speak English. He called on the airport management to allow Chinese-speaking guides to enter the customs and immigration areas to reduce linguistic misunderstandings.
He said Chinese tourists who purchase bird’s nest in Bali are confronted by customs officials on departure and told that bird’s nest cannot be exported. In fact, there is no such regulation or prohibition.
Rudyanto called on Angkasa Pura I who manage the airport to install CCTV camera in all areas of the airport as a step to reduce corruption by officials.
The Middle Kingdom Comes
34 Additional International Flights from Bali During Chinese Lunar New Year Period
34 additional flights from 7 different international carriers are flying into Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport to meet increased demand over the Lunar New Year period.
Quoted by the State News Agency Antara, the general manager of PT Angkasa Pura the company that manages Bali’s airport, Herry A.Y. Sikado. said on Wednesday, February 18, 2105, “We are coordinating intensively with airlines on matters of keeping on schedule and maintaining service to their passengers in order to ensure airport operations go smoothly.”
The 34 international flights will provide an additional 8,364 seats for those traveling over the Chinese New Year period. Operating the additional flights include Hong Kong Airlines flying 14 additional flights with 3,962 seats and Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong with 3 flights totaling 951 seats. Other carriers supplementing their holiday flight schedules are China Eastern flying 3 additional flights Beijing-Denpasar; Chinese Southern flying 2 additional flights to Shenzhen, and charter flights by China Eastern with seven more flights to Ningbo and Taiyuan.
Other charter flight operating are 4 flights from Bali to Xiamen with Xiamen Airlines and a single ExecuJet flight from Sydney to Bali.
It’s Alimentary, My Dear Naumann
German Facing 17 Years for Smuggling Cocaine into Bali
The State News Agency Antara reports that State Prosecutors in Denpasar are seeking a 17-year prison sentence for German national Hans Peter Naumann (48) standing trial for attempting to smuggle 326.12 grams of cocaine via Bali’s airport in September of 2014.
Prosecutors have also asked that a fine of Rp. 1 billion (US$80,000) be added to the prison term.
Bali Custom’s officials arrested Naumann, who lived in Thailand prior to his arrest, on September 26, 2014 as he disembarked an inbound international flight. A subsequent inspection by officials discovered 11 rubber capsules containing cocaine in the man’s underwear and a further 29.88 grams of the drug at the airport rubber capsules expelled from the man’s gastro-intestinal tract.
Placed under medical examination the German expelled a further 32 capsules containing 159.26 grams of drug between 28 September – 02 October 2014.
Khong Hee Fat Choy!
Bali Airport Welcomes Chinese New Year with Traditional Decorations and Special Performances
To celebrate the Lunar New Year Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport has undertaken a number of steps to join the spirit of the season and welcome the thousands of Chinese guest passing through the Island’s air gateway.
Hundred of Chinese lanterns have been installed throughout the airport together with a traditional tree decorated with Ang Pao envelopes have been in place since early February.
“We have been working with a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) to change the decorations in the terminal adopting an Imlek (Chinese New Year) theme by hanging hundreds of Chinese lanterns and a Mei Hua tree seen by the Chinese as a tree of food luck,” explained the general manager of the Bali airport authority, Herry A.Y. Sikado, speaking on Thursday, February 19, 2015.
Sikado also told Kompas.com that the airport is sponsoring a traditional Barongsai or Chinese Lion Dance and visits by “Dewa Uang” or the “God of Money” who is handing Ang Pao envelopes of candy to children visiting the airport. A booth decorated in the Imlek tradition is also in operation.
The Chinese New Year performances were in place February 18-20, 2015 at both the domestic and international terminals.
Shown on Balidiscovery.com picture of a Lion Dance performance at Bali’s airport from Kompas.com.
Bali’s Better on Bike
Bali Bicycling Community Undertakes a Clean Up of the Island’s Capital
A community of cycling enthusiasts called the Denpasar Cycling Together Secretariat (Samsas) circled Bali’s capital to participate in a clean up campaign that removed out-of-date banners and posters, and also pulled out nails used to hang unsightly banners.
As reported by Kompas.com, the clean up was help in the “kurze Z” areas of Denpasar seen as a heritage area of the capital as part of Samsas’ desire to celebrate Chinese New Year and the 227th anniversary of Denpasar that falls on February 27, 2015.
Hendradatta, the chairman of Samsas Denpasar, said on Thursday, February 19, 2015: “We, as a community of bicycling enthusiasts, wanted to undertake concrete steps to keep Denpasar clean while inviting fellow residents to help keep the city clean and not discard trash in undesignated places.”
A large group of Samsas members pedaled around the city armed with trash bags picking up discarded rubbish and removing nails and banners from signposts and trees. The group patrolled and cleaned up an area starting from the Mayor’s office passing Jalan Gajah Mada, Jalan Sumatra, Jalan Thamrin and ending at the Puputan Badung field.
Shown on Balidiscovery.com a picture of a member of the Samsas team removing nails from a Denpasar signpost courtesy of Kompas.com.
Too Many Customers, Not Enough Electricity
PLN Warns that Island-Wide Rolling Blackouts Likely Starting February 23 Until March 1, 2015
Beritabali.com warns that the State Power Board (PLN-Bali) commencing on Saturday, February 21, 2015, will experience a power deficit for the Island of between 40-70 Megawatts that they say will result in a island-wide rolling blackouts until March 1, 2015.
The general manager of PLN Bali, Syamsul Huda, in a meeting with Bali’s governor, Made Mangku Pastika, on Friday, February 20, 2015, confirmed the unwelcomed news.
“PLN Bali is in crisis. Tomorrow, Saturday, February 21st until March 1st repairs will be carried out on the 130 Megawatt Gilimanuk power generating station (PPLTG Gilimanuk). With the station out of the power grid a power deficit of 40-70 Megawatts will occur,” explained Huda.
Huda said he deficit would result in rotating power blackouts across all of Bali. He has asked that hotels on the island temporarily use their standby power generating capabilities to ease demands on PLN.
“Blackouts will happen during evening hours across all of Bali. The blackout is equal to the power usage of an entire regency. The power station at Pemaron no longer functions,” said Huda.
Huda was not prepared to say how long power in Bali would be disrupted.
Huda said that the blackout would only end when supplemental power was provided or the new power station at Celukan Bawang came on line.
At peak power times Bali uses 781 Megawatts of power while peak production is 850 Megawatts. This leaves a small margin of standby power totaling only 69 Megawatts.
Huda continued: “Ideally, there should be an excess margin of 130 Megawatts. With the current thin excess margin of power there is a high risk of power blackouts in Bali. Last week a capacitator in Pesangaran suddenly failed. The stand by reserve is very small. ”
Because of the growing threat of deficits, PLN Bali effective February 23, 2013 will stop electrical hook-ups for new customers.
The Capacity to Carry More
Garuda CEO Wants to See Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport Expanded to Handle More Flights and Passengers
The CEO of Garuda Indonesia, Arif Wibowo, has voiced his support for plans to enlarge the Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport and improve service to the airlines landing there.
Quoted by the State News Agency Antara, Wibowo while accompanying the Minister of State-owned Companies on a visit to Bali on Friday, February 20, 2015, said: “At this time the Ngurah Rai International Airport is already good, but if possible it should be expanded. This is because in the future the parking area will become increasingly limited while more flight land in Bali.”
Wibowo praised the efforts of the Airport Authority – Angkasa Pura in expanding the recently renovated airport and improving service.
The Garuda Indonesia CEO pointed to the potential of Bali’s airport to attract tourists from China and Europe.
With a Steadfast Aim to Execute
Indonesia Insists Next Wave of 11 Executions a Matter of National Sovereignty and Certain to Take Place in Near Future
The Attorney General of Indonesia, HM Prasetyo, signaled to the press that the execution of 11 death-row convicts would proceed, sooner rather than later.
Counted among those to be placed before a firing squad are the two “Bali Nine” members Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, despite intense public and diplomatic efforts from Australia to commute their sentence to life imprisonment.
Plans to execute some or all of the prisons on the Indonesian prison island of Nusa Kambangan have been delayed briefly. Officials claim the current delay is not in response to diplomatic pressure but needed to enlarge the area where the prisoners will be shot simultaneously.
Prasetyo also said that one of the 11 slated to die, a Brazilian named Rodrigo Gularte, would take place despite the fact that man is generally considered to be suffering from a mental disorder. The Attorney General said regulations do not prohibit the execution of the insane, with only the execution of pregnant women and minor children forbidden under Indonesian law.
Prasetyo said once all the elaborate preparations for the executions are completed the prisoners and their families will be given the mandated 72-hour notice before their execution.
Although widely supposed that the executions will take place at Nusa Kambangan Prison in Java, the location or locations for the next wave of judicial killings has not been formally announced.
The eleven people to be executed include:
Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan
Three Indonesians convicted of murder: Iyen bin Azwar, Harun bin Ajis, and Sargawi, alias Ali bin Sanusi.
A female Philippine national, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso (narcotics offense).
Frenchman Serge Areski Atlaoui (narcotics offense).
Ghanaian Martin Anderson, also known as Belo (narcotics offense).
Indonesian Zainal Abidin (narcotics offense).
Raheem Agbaje Salami from Cordova (narcotics offense).
Rodrigo Gularte from Brazil (narcotics offense).
Bali’s Capital Hit by Flooding
Heavy Rain Floods Large Areas of Denpasar Bringing Bali’s Capital to a Standstill
Torrential rains on Friday, February 20, 2015, caused flooding in many areas of Denpasar and South Bali. Water depths of 30 centimeters in the Renon area of Bali’s capital brought traffic to a standstill over a wide area.
The State News Agency Antara reported that flooding occurred on Jalan Puputan Niti Mandala Renon at the Jalan Dewi Sartika intersection blamed on clogged drains that failed to carry away the rainwater.
Flooding also occurred on Jalan Iman Bonjol at the border with Kuta creating flooding that stretched to Jalan Teuku Umar in Denpasar.
Flooding brought traffic to a standstill in the areas of Jalan Hayam Wuruk, Jalan Sudirman, Jalan Dewi Sartika, Jalan Yos Sudarso spreading to Jalan Tjok Agung Tresna and Jalan Puputan Niti Mandala Renon. Floodwater also surrounded the Governor’s office complex in central Renon.
Roads and Rails for Bali
Governor and BUMN Minister Discuss New Toll Road and Rail System for Bali
The Indonesian Minister for State Owned Enterprises (BUMN), Rini Soemarno, met with Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika on Friday, February 20, 2015 during a visit by the Minister to the Island.
During the visit, Governor Pastika offered his ideas for the construction of a toll way between Kuta and Pekutatan. The proposed road would connect Kuta – Canggu – Soka – Pekutatan.
As reported by Beritabali.com, the plan discussed by the Minister and Governor Pastika was for a toll road similar to the Bali Mandara Toll Way operated on a consortium organized under BUMN.
In the same meeting, Pastika also touched upon his desire to a railroad system to circle the shores of Bali. This plan was discussed with the current Minister of Transportation, Ignasius Jonan, when he still served at the CEO of the Indonesian Railroad System (PT Kereta Api Indonesia).
The plan for the Bali Rail System was previously set forth in a Memorandum of Understanding between PT Kereta Api Indonesia, the Ministry of Transportation and the Tourism Ministry.
Pastika said he hoped the visit of the Minister for BUMN would accelerate the realization of the toll way and railroad project for Bali.
Indonesia’s Ambassador Designate to Brazil Recalled to Jakarta after Snub by President Rouseff
To register Brazil’s displeasure with continuing executions in Indonesia, the Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff on Friday, February 20, 2015, delivered a snub to Indonesia’s newly appointed Ambassador to Brasilia Toto Riyanto.
In a formal ceremony at which a number of new Ambassadors presented their credential to the Brazilian President, Ambassador designate to Brazil Toto Riyanto was notable by his absence. As a manifestation of Brazil’s warning to Indonesia that the execution of its citizen would bear consequence, Riyanto was "uninvited" to the ceremony, effectively leaving Indonesia without an Ambassador in Brasilia.
President Rousseff commented: “We think it’s important for there to be an evolution in the situation, for us to have some clarity” (about relations between the two countries). What we did was delay a bit the acceptance of credentials, that’s all.”
A 42-year old Brazilian, Rodrigo Gularte, was found guilty of trying to import into Indonesia 6 kilograms of Cocaine in 2005 concealed in a windsurfer. He is set to be among those executed in the coming weeks when 11 people are placed before a firing squad. Appeals by Gularte’s family and by the Brazilian government to commute the death sentence have been unsuccessful to date, despite evidence presented to demonstrate the condemned man is mentally deranged.
Another Brazilian, Marco Archer, was executed in Indonesian in January 2015 resulting from his 2003 attempt to smuggle 13.4 kilograms of cocaine into Indonesia in a hang glider. Efforts by the Brazilian government to have Archer’s sentence commuted to life imprisonment did not prevent his final execution together with five other narcotics offenders on Nusa Kambangan Island last month.
Indonesia has answered the diplomatic snub by the Brazilian President by formally recalling its Ambassador designate to Jakarta and to send a formal note of diplomatic protest to Brazil.
The Serpent's Revenge
Two Workers in Denpasar, Bali Batik Factory Swept Away Down River During Torrential Rainstorm
A Search and Rescue Team was called to search on Saturday, February 21, 2015 for two young men swept down a river on Jalan Mahenderadatta in downtown Denpasar.
The two men, Ronaldo Dumarus (21) from Flores and Sutikno (19) from East Java worked at a Batik factory located close to where they fell into the river during heavy rains that swept across Denpasar on Friday.
As reported by the State News Agency Antara, the two missing workers, together with five friends, were trying to capture a snake discovered near the river bank. Ronaldo reportedly was frightened by the snake and fell into the river. Sutikno jumped into the river to assist his friend as both men were carried down the river’s strong current during the rainstorm.
The body of Sutikno was recovered downstream form where he went into the river, On Sunday, search workers discovered Dumaris' body floating in the river.
They Still Call Denpasar Home
Denpasar, Bali Tourism Official: No Sign Yet of an Australian Boycott
Radar Bali reports that Australians seem to be ignoring calls for a boycott of Bali intimated by Prime Minister Tony Abbot and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
The head of the Bali Tourism Service for the City of Denpasar, Wayan Gunawan, told Radar Bali that he has yet to see any decline in Australian visitors and doubts the threat of a boycott will materialize.
“Up until the present (Thursday, February 19th), there’s been no effect. Moreover, some of the Australians I have spoken to are against the threat of a boycott because they feel it is an insult to the legal system of another country,” said Gunawan.
Gunawan said hotel occupancies in Denpasar remained stable, with the expectation to rise over the short term. He said Denpasar hotels were becoming increasingly popular with Australian visitors. “Therefore, we in Denpasar are not frightened by the threat of a boycott by Australia. In my opinion, they (the Australians) will come up the losers (in a boycott). Law is law. Tourists have to understand and accept the sovereignty of other nations,” he explained.
Bali Has Strong Start to 2015
Bali by the Numbers: Foreign Arrivals to Bali in January Grow 7.8%
Bali arrival figures for January 2015 showed a strong, record-high start to 2015 with 301,618 foreign visitors – an increase of 7.09% over arrivals in January 2014.
Australian threats of a boycott were not evidenced in the January 2015 arrivals from “down under” that were 19.35% more than the same month in 2014 at 85,102. Whether or not calls for a boycott to protest the planned execution of two Australian drug smugglers will gain steam in February remains to be seen in coming arrival counts.
People’s Republic of China arrivals saw growth slow in January. 51,949 PRC arrivals represented a decline of 0.21% when compared to January 2014. The Chinese travelers may have been delaying any travel plans, saving up for the Chinese New Year in February that is traditionally the busiest travel period in the year. Look for PRC numbers to soar in February as Garuda and Chinese-based airlines add extra flights between Bali and China to meet the Lunar New Year rush.
Malaysia and Singapore mirrored the “lull before the travel storm” exhibited by China. Malaysian and Singapore arrivals lagged 11.76% and 11.08, respectively, in January 2015 as compared to the same month one year before,
Japan – still suffering from a national recession – turned in a surprisingly strong performance in January 2105 with 17,946 visitors, improving 25.88% month-on-month.
South Korea arrival in January increased 23.86% in January totaling 15,140 visitors.
The U.K. market improved 28% in January and the Indian market moved up the ranks into the “top 10” gaining 39.33% over the same month in 2014.
Not unexpectedly, the Russian market dropped 45% in January as bellicosity and economic woes prevented the “Russian Christmas” or Epiphany from materializing in January.
Seeking Gold from Quiksilver
Quiksilver Indonesia Being Sued by its Former Licensee
The State News Agency Antara reports that a Bali-based company CV Putri Ayu has filed civil suit against the internationally know brand Quiksilver Indonesia demanding compensation of Rp. 11.8 billion (US$944,000) for unilaterally terminating its licensing agreement.
Wayan Purwita, the lawyer for CV Putri Ayu, said, “Our suit has been filed because Quiksilver unilaterally cut its contract with its licensee that should have remained in effect until November 1, 2018.”
Quiksilver is a company from the U.S.A. that sells clothing, shoes, accessories and equipment for surfing.
Purwita said the termination of the licensee agreement held by CV Putri Ayu is linked to the termination of two Australians who worked at the Company. The lawyer points out that the employment of Leigh Michael Turner and Johanes Richard Forrester had no legal connection with the arrangements with Quiksilver Indonesia.
Nonetheless, in the letter ending the cooperation between Quiksilver and CV Putri Ayu, Quiksilver directed their local licensee to restore the two Australians to their previous positions.
CV Putri Ayu said the work contracts with the two Australians ended on July 11, 2013. Their termination was linked to the sealing of a store owned by the plaintiff in Seminyak Square by "unidentified people" alleged to be in the employ of Quiksilver.
CV Putri Ayu is suing Quiksilver for material and non-material damages of Rp. 11.8 billion (US$944,000) and the two Australians for a further Rp. 3.7 billion (US$296,000).
Wackrow to Whack No More
New Zealand Man Gets 5 Month Jail for Beating His Girlfriend
A New Zealand man, Richard James Wackrow (40) has been sentenced to five months jail for violently attacking his companion, Lisa Christina, on September 4, 2014.
The sentence was handed down in the Denpasar High Court on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 and was 2 months less than the 7 months sought by prosecutors.
As reported by Metrobali.com, Wackrow struck Christina with his hand and a helmet when the two became involved in an argument following a minor motorcycle mishap in the Jimbaran area of Bali.
As the result of the attack the woman suffered wounds to her eye and right cheek, in addition to also suffering a broken nose.
Wackrow was not accompanied by a lawyer and told the court he accepted the verdict handed down by the panel of judges.
Bali Governor Puts Little Stock in Australian Threats of a Tourism Boycott
As reported by Metrobali.com, Bali’s Governor Made Mangku Pastika has proclaimed he cannot be bothered with threats of a boycott against Bali circulating on the Internet from Australia.
Speaking on Monday, February 16, 2015, the Governor, who once served as the Chief of Police for Bali, said he was oblivious to threats of a boycott against Bali. Adding: “I don’t believe it (the threat). I just remain calm. I suspect (those making the threat) have no understanding about tourism.”
The Governor took the opportunity to say he supported the firm steps taken by the government in moving forward on the execution of narcotics offenders. He reemphasized that foreign countries cannot interfere in the domestic political affairs of Indonesia. “Why would Indonesia allow (outsiders) to interfere?”
Citing ancient cultural teachings, Pastika said: “The teaching of Trisakti are clear: Sovereign in politics; independent in economic matters; and distinguished in our defense of culture.”
In closing, Pastika said: ‘Every country has its own sovereignty, it’s own sense of self-worth and demeanor. It is at time like these that we must demonstrate these facts.”
Indonesian Tourism Minister Said Tourism is a People to People Business and Unlikely to be Impacted by Australian Threats of a Boycott
Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, Arief Yahya, has responded to news reports and social media feeds on a proposed boycott of Indonesia by Australians opposed to the planned execution of convicted Australian drug smuggling ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.
Quoted by the State News Agency Antara, Yahya said: “It’s best if I refrain from saying that I am not worried as this will provoke (those behind the movement). But, in practical terms children will happily play, as demonstrated by the (arrival) figures, even though the children's parents are cranky. There is no affect.”
Speaking after a closed door meeting of the Cabinet on tourism held at the Bogor Palace on Monday, February 16, 2015, Yahya said: “Tourism is a business that is ‘people to people’ and not ‘government to government.’ Because of this, it is hoped that if the parents are arguing the children will continue to play, I hope that the present situation (boycott threats) follows this scenario.”
The Minister expressed the hope that the people to people connection between Indonesians and Australians, including cultural exchanges, continue to remain good.
Yahya said he had yet to see any evidence of any impact in connections with threats of a boycott made by the Australian government. Nonetheless, Yahya said he wants to be cautious and not comment further for fear of exacerbating the situation.
He observed that the relationship between Indonesia and Australia was in a constant state of flux, depending on a number of national and regional issues and interests.
Australian tourism – especially in Bali – is very significant. Of the total 9.4 million tourists who visit Indonesian annually, 1.2 million originate from Australia. “There’s been no change in the (tourism) target, no effect. But this does not mean we are opposing (Australia),” said Yahya.
Seven Star Global Luxury Awards
Trans Resort Bali to Host Gala Seven Star Global Luxury Award Ceremony On September 19, 2015
The Trans Resort Bali has been chosen as the venue for the Seven Star Global Luxury Awards to take place on September 19, 2015.
Following the 2014 award ceremony held at the Chateau Spa & Organic Wellness Resort in Malaysia, the Trans Resort Bali was chosen for an event attended by members of royalty and the world’s leading luxury brands because, in the words of the organizer, “it is headed by Alexander Jovanovic, a veteran of the Luxury Hospitality industry, and is an oasis of luxury based in the vibrant district of Seminyak allowing guests to experience the best that Bali has to offer in terms of luxury and lifestyle.”
Khalil El-Mouelhy-Chairman, President/Founder of the Global Luxury Awards said:” We are delighted that our 2015 Gala ceremony will take place at the Trans Resort Bali. This impeccable resort, in an already amazing destination, with its outstanding, world-class facilities and hands on management is the perfect venue for an event of this calibre. We are looking forward to welcoming our winners to this spectacular property and celebrating their outstanding achievements “
Last year’s attendees included names such as Her Royal Highness Sultanah Pahang Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom, Tun Dr Mahathir, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Princes, Ambassadors and other dignitaries. Among those accorded honors in 2014 were Turkish Airlines, Mouawad, The Regency Kuwait, ITC Hotel Group and Villa Padierna Palace Hotel. The Maldives was again named as a Seven Star Destination.
The Trans Luxury Hotel Bandung, the sister property of the Trans Resort Bali, won honors in the 2014 Seven Star Global Luxury Awards.
Among the panel of experts convened to augment the selection process done via an on-line poll are Prince Max della Torre e Tasso, Princess Costanza della Torre e Tasso, the beautiful and the talented Miss Ece Vahapoglu - who serves as the official presenter.
On-line voting for the 2015 Seven Star Global Luxury Awards has begun on lines at www.sevenstaraward.com and will continue through June 15, 2015. Self-nominations will remain open until March 27, 2015.
Bali Beseiged by Heavy Winds and Rain
On Saturday afternoon, February 21, 2015, Bali experienced a rain and windstorm of ferocious velocity felling trees and damaging rooftops in a number of locations across the southern part of the Island.
Dark and ominous-looking clouds dominated the skyline from mid-day on Saturday. By late afternoon strong rains accompanied by winds gusting to estimated at 30-40 knots per hour began to cause havoc.
Farmers and local resident ran for cover as winds uprooted trees, broke branches from trees and sent roofing tiles flying through the air.
The strong winds caused damage to the rooftop of the KuDeTa Restaurant in Petitenget. According to Bali Post, five customers and one staff member in the restaurant suffered superficial wounds from flying glass.
A number of motorcycles and vehicles suffered heavy damage from falling trees. Two deaths were recorded in Tabanan, West Bali caused by falling trees.
A number of people in Bali required hospitalization for injuries sufferedduring the wind storm.
Beritabali.com reports that a large tree on Jalan Wr Supratman in Tohpati, Denpasar was uprooted and fell closing the road temporarily. Trees also fell in Denpasar and Ubud.
Weather forecasters are blaming the rains and winds in Bali as the peripheral effect of a former tropical storm system over Western Australia and an active storm system over Northeast Australia.
Seeking Reciprocation - Fair Dinkum?
Indonesia Decides Not to Extend Visa-Free Facility to Australia
After an initial announcement in October 2014 that Indonesia would extend visa-free-on-arrival for the nationals of China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Australia, the Jakarta Glob has published that Australia has been removed form the list due to Australia’s failure to reciprocate with a similar visa policy for Indonesians traveling to Australia.
Indonesia’s Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has announced that Australia’s refusal to extend an equivalent courtesy to Indonesian travelers prompted the decision that will require Australian tourists to pay US$35 for a 30-day visit to Bali upon arrival in Indonesia.
Quoted by The Jakarta Globe, Yahya said: “Indonesia offers visa-free travel to countries that can offer us the same things. Australia requires a visa for every foreign tourist to enter the country. That means they won’t ever offer Indonesian tourists visa-free travel, even though we offer it to them.”
With nearly one million visitors each year, Australians are the biggest single source of foreign visitors for the Island of Bali.
Japan is in the process of extending free visas to Indonesian visitors. Discussions continue with South Korea, China and Russia to establish a reciprocal visa-free status.
Port Out, Starboard Home
Indonesia Wants to Offer Online Processing of Sailing Permits for Yachts
The Indonesian Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya wants to reduce the processing time for a yacht sailing permit in Indonesia from eight days to just two hours.
As reported by Bisnis Bali, Yahya said the government wants to put the process for obtaining a sailing permit online. The system, to be named the Clearance Approval for Indonesian Territory (CAIT Online), is being promoted by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Plans are that extensions of sailing permits can be processed at any immigration office nation-wide.
Tourism officials claim that prices extended to yacht owners in Indonesia are sufficiently competitive. Citing one example, the cost of a yacht mooring in Singapore can cost SID 1,000-SID 1,500, while in Indonesia the cost can be less than SID 500. At the same time, many yacht owners chose to base their boats in Singapore where the bureaucracy is tamer and more efficient.
The Indonesian government also acknowledges that in order to grow the number of visiting yachts coming to Indonesia improvements also needs to be made in the quality of marinas and moorings available to the yacht sector.
“The Ministry of Tourism has already recommended to the Ministry of Transportation to increase berth capacity at 33 ports-of-call in Indonesia,” explained Minister Yahya.
Tourism authorities and stakeholders have developed 18 passage routes in Indonesia in order to welcome visiting yachts.
Yacht and Cruise Ship Handling by Bali Discovery
We Make People Wait
Lion Air Throws National Aviation into Chaos as Flights Mysteriously Cancelled and 2,000 Passengers Stranded
Lion Air – Indonesia’s second largest airline – went into a state approximating corporate meltdown on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 when Indonesia’s largest low-cost airline suddenly and without prior notice cancelled all its evening flights departing Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport.
Incongruously blaming the resulting delays on technical repair issues affecting only 3 of its 93 aircraft, thousands of passengers were left stranded in Jakarta and connecting airports across the nation, with little or no information on the developing situation shared by ground staff of the airline.
Reports of angry passengers holding ground staff hostage and militant occupation of tarmac areas by passengers demanding refunds and compensation were front page in the national press. An estimate of damage and vandalism caused by angry passengers angered by the delay is put at Rp. 100 million at Terminal 3 in Jakarta.
Two days into the crisis, Lion Air convened a press conference at Terminal 3 of the Jakarta’s airport where they airline announced a temporary suspension of all flights from Jakarta on Friday evening to avoid exacerbating the situation, promising to process refunds or passage of new flights during the week of February 22, 2015.
The general affairs director of Lion Air, Edward Sirait said, "We will provide refunds and also a chance for passengers to reschedule their flights to between Monday and Wednesday next week."
An estimated 2,000 passengers were affected by delays and flight cancellations.
Claiming insufficient cash was on hand to pay passenger refunds, Angkasa Pura who manages the airport provided cash to effect refunds and compensation to the public.
The politically well-connected airline is expected to be called by the National House of Representatives to answer lawmaker’s questions. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation has issued a 30-day freeze on new routes or frequencies for the carrier.
No cogent explanation has been given for the chaos and delay of the last week nor have any apologies, explanations or apologies been posted on the airlines website.
A spokesman from the airworthiness section of the Transportation Ministry, Yirlis Hasibuan, has called into question Lion Air’s explanation that technical problems with three aircraft out of a fleet of nearly 100 planes could have caused the meltdown.
The Transportation Ministry's airline safety director, Yurlis Hasibuan, questioned the explanation given by the airline, asking why damage to three aircraft led to hundreds of delayed flights. "We will investigate the reason behind this and we have to look into the airline's aircraft rotation management," Yurlis said, quoted by The Jakarta Post. "We will also urge them to improve their refund management since the airport operator, a state-owned company, should not be paying the refunds."
Lion Air - the company that placed the largest aircraft orders in history with both Airbus Industries and Boeing – is likely to find many aspects of its operations and management come under closer scrutiny because of this fiasco of almost unprecedented proportions in Indonesia’s aviation history.
Travel industry observers will now be watching closely booking activity on the airlines website and achieved loads on Lion Air's aircrafts over the coming weeks to see if the public’s badly-shaken faith in the airline can soon recover.
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