Bali Discovery Tours
Jln. By Pass Ida Bagus Mantra,
Jln. Pucuk 1 No. 70X
24h: +62 (0)812 3819724
Tel: +62 (0)361 464 032, +62 (0)361 471 0242
BALI UPDATE # 083 - 10 October 1998
PATA BALI ASSISTS LOCAL TAXI OPERATORS
Work is nearing completion on a simple language guide
that will soon be distributed free of charge to taxi drivers on Bali to
facilitate communication with their customers. Laminated cards listing
often-used phrases in Indonesian, English, French, Japanese and German
will soon be available in all Bali taxi cabs.
This project, sponsored by the Pata Bali Chapter,
will allow drivers and their passengers to read or point to an intended
phrase in their native language for instant translation.
EDITORIAL - OPEN SKIES
NOT SO OPEN
WHEN Indonesian President B.J. Habibie declared during
the September Tourism Indonesia Mart & Expo that "any foreign carrier
may fly non-stop from its home base to any destination in Indonesia",
the local travel industry held its breath and read between the lines.
It's a long haul from London to Jakarta or Los Angeles to Bali. However,
the government continues to deny British Airways' request to route service
London-Kuala Lumpur-Denpasar, allowing only entry to Jakarta.
The Minister of Transportation later modified the
President's good news and clarified the presidential ruling when he said
the open skies policy "applied only to charter flights".
"We support the plan to open airports to foreign
airlines, especially those located near tourist destinations, because
of our limited capacity as a result of the economic crisis," said Indonesian
National Air Carrier Association (INACA) chairman Soelarto Hadisomarto.
"If foreign airlines start to fly domestic routes, it would kill us."
But, President Habibie mentioned nothing about domestic routes. Already,
international carriers serve major domestic cities, with 23 airports in
the archipelago open to international airlines. Tourist arrivals have
fallen sharply due to outbreaks of rioting, social and political instability
in the country which is in its worst economic crisis in 30 years.
International and domestic carriers Garuda Indonesia
(GA) and Merpati Nusantara (MZ) have drastically cut frequencies and destinations
on flights, both internally and abroad. Sempati Air shut down all service
in June. These developments make it increasingly difficult to travel
within Indonesia, even between major tourist destinations such as Jakarta-Denpasar
and Denpasar-Yogyakarta. Last week Garuda announced further flight reduction
to take place over the coming months.
Meanwhile, some Conference and Convention Operators
in Bali are complaining that they are losing desperately needed group
bookings due to the inability to obtain sufficient airline block seats
Unfortunately, the government's recent announcement
to allow only foreign charter flights is wrong-minded and likely to actually
hasten the demise of the national carrier they believe themselves to be
protecting. Giving priority to charter traffic over scheduled services
will only serve to further depress ticket prices, making it even more
difficult for the National Carrier to struggle back into profitability.
Indonesian Tourism needs more airline seats and needs
Approve the British Airways application for rights
to Bali !
TAX CUT REQUESTED
Indonesian President B.J. Habibie recently announced
that all tourism promotions for the industry are now tax deductible. But,
the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) is lobbying to
reduce hotel and restaurant tax rates from 10 to 5 per cent. "The 5 per
cent tax rate is more suitable to the difficult times right now when many
hotels and restaurants are on the edge of bankruptcy, facing cash flow
shortages due to the high interest rate of bank loans," said PHRI chairman
Sutowo also proposes taking 2 per cent from foreign
currency earned from tourism business for promotion funds for the Indonesian
Tourism Promotion Board (ITPB). "A hotel and/or restaurant would only
need to expend 7 instead of 10 per cent of revenues for tax," said Sutowo.
A previous presidential decree from former President Soeharto designated
2 percent of tax paid on every hotel and restaurant bill be designated
for tourism promotion, but that decree, questioned for legality, never
netted funds to reach ITPB, causing the public-private sector organisation
to accrue US$21 million in debts.
Sutowo said, incentives in the form of tax deductions
was insufficient and would not cover promotion expenses. "The tax deduction
would only be one-tenth of the promotion funds we need," said Sutowo.
He said he was forced to lay off 17 employees, including ITPB executive
director with a five-year tenure Wuyastuti Sunario, due to ITPB cash flow
Tax exemptions should serve as an incentive to tourism
development, which has been adversely affected in the current economic
crisis, said tourism, art and culture minister Marzuki Usman.
ONCE, IN A BLUE MOON
An exhibition of oil paintings by Miami Beach artist
Mark Rutkowski will open on October 10th at Ubud's Blue Moon Gallery.
"Atmospheres" a collection of cloudscapes and portraits was created by
the artist during his 9 month residence in Ubud.
Best known for his realistic watercolours of Art
Deco hotels which dominate the skyline of Miami Beach, Rutkowski reveals
in his new works an expressionist style with a personal voice and iconography.
The show which will run through November 4th is a
reflection of Rutkowski's sensitivity to the beauty of nature and the
nature of beauty.
Blue Moon is located on Jl. Tirta Tawar, Banjar Kutuh
Kaja, Ubud. Open 11am-5 pm. Call 976727. Find the Gallery on WWW at <http:www.artbali.com>
BALI PROMO NOMINATED
FOR WTM AWARD
The publication Travel News Asia will present Global
Awards at the World Travel Mart (WTM) in London in November. These awards
will be presented to a "company or individual which has made he greatest
contribution to tourism and travel in a region."
Bali Promo and the Bali-based environmental group
the Wisnu Foundation have both been nominated for this prestigious award.
In nominating Bali Promo, the volunteer group's quick
response to a variety of economic and political crisis was cited, including
the group's campaign to tell the world that Bali remained a safe destination
for visitors. Under the banner of "Bali Promo" a petition was signed by
more than 11,000 industry workers and presented to US President Bill Clinton
via the local US consulate, with a plea to rescind the US travel ban,
at least for Bali. Within days--through coincidence or not--Bali was cleared
for US travellers and shortly thereafter, for all of Indonesia.
Bali Promo's other projects in support of the island's
tourism were also cited included local advertising campaigns, a monthly
newsletter, and direct lobbying with the Central government for "open
Also nominated was Bali's Wisnu Foundation for its
projects to increase environmental awareness and recycling. This group
heads an education program to local schools to ensure young children grow
up environmentally aware; established community recycling centres for
disposal of recyclable materials and increasing community awareness of
the dangers of burning trash; and developed closed recycling systems within
hotels on the island, whereby hotel waste products are separated and recycled
as animal food or compost and proper disposal systems are created for
The Indonesian Democratic Party Congress (PDI) in
support of the presidential bid of Megawati Soekarnoputri is now in its
third day without any major incidents being reported. As I write this
report, the street in front of my office is filled with thousands of parading
PDI supporters - called "Penggembira" which can only be translated as
"merrymakers." Honking horns, costumes to rival Mardi Gras, and motorcycles
by the thousand revving their engines - the "penggembira" are certainly
living up to their name.
Local papers have reported that tourists visiting
Bali have been seen attending concerts, watching the mass rally speeches,
and even joining political parades. These "bule" participants in the PDI
activities have generally been warmly welcomed by the local PDI activists
who proudly point to such participation as proof of the "international
character" of their candidate.
Meanwhile, roadside kiosks are promoting their Mega
posters, T-shirts, and bumper stickers to locals and foreign visitors
to the island.
The biggest "threat" to the welfare of these tourist
would seem to be that of staying too late at the congress evening events
or spending all their money on Megawati souvenirs.
Now if I could only remember where I saw the man
selling T-shirts and accepting AMEX?