Turtle Migrates 12,774 Miles from Indonesia to Oregon

A leatherback turtle was tracked by satellite traveling 12,774 miles (20,558 kilometers) from Indonesia to Oregon, one of the longest recorded migrations of any vertebrate animal, scientists announced in a new report on sea turtle conservation.

Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest of all living turtles and are widely distributed throughout the world's oceans. They have been seen in the waters off Argentina, Tasmania, Alaska and Nova Scotia.

Adult leatherbacks periodically migrate from their temperate foraging grounds to breeding grounds in the tropics.

Scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) tracked one female nester, who was tagged on Jamursba-Medi beach in Papua, Indonesia, on her journey back to her foraging grounds off the coast of Oregon. She was tracked for 647 days covering a distance about equal to two round trips between New York and Los Angeles.

The turtle's trip set a new record for sea turtles, and is among the longest documented migrations for any marine vertebrate.

The turtle's journey is featured in an article in the third annual volume of the State of the Worlds' Turtles Report, written by NMFS scientists Peter Dutton and Scott Benson and Creusa Hitipeuw of WWF-Indonesia.

February Events

Indonesia Open Golf
The Jakarta Indonesia Open Golf will be held in the Tropical Golf Course, Pantai Indah Kapuk, inviting over than 150 international golfers. more »

Pasola Jousting Ceremony
"PASOLA" is the West Sumba's most exciting ritual. Scores of colorfully arrayed horsemen riding bareback , battle with lances. During these mock wars, riders charge one another flinging blunt spears. more »

Tourism Fun Day, Anyer
A yearly event which organized by the local government. This is a week long festival which highlighted by cultural performances, exhibition of handicraft products, and various sports/ traditional contests. more »

Grand Racing Speed Car and GP2 Speed Car
This event will be followed be 24 famous world racers and GP2 World Championship and It is the last step to get inti F1. GP2 Asia that give racers from Middle East and Asia to develop their career. more »

Bali to Establish 275 Tourism 'E-Kiosks'

Electronic Information Centers Intended to Replace Illegal "Tourist Information Offices."

Bali News: Bali to Establish 275 Tourism 'E-Kiosks'
(1/27/2008) Bisnis Bali reports that the presence of illegal Tourism Information Offices operating across the island of Bali is a source of growing concern.

Travel agencies, souvenir shops and even street vendors are displaying "tourist information" signs, complains the Coordinator of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), Ngurah Wijaya.

As a result, Wijaya is calling on the government to quickly bring some order to enterprises displaying "tourist information" signs in order to safeguard Bali's image. Wijaya warned: "Imagine if everyone can easily set up a tourism information office. The information they provide can be incorrect or be used to mislead tourist visitors."

Fearing that the current situation, if allowed to continue unchecked, will cause Bali's recovery to come off track, Wijaya wants illegal "tourist information offices" to be closed and replaced with E-Kiosks providing tourist information for the Island's visitors.

To this end, the government has appointed a local company PT Ochabawez Dinamika Persada to establish 275 "E-Kiosks" across Bali in February 2008.

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to http://www.balidiscovery.com. All images and graphics are copyright protected.

Bali needs more Russian-speaking tourist guides

Bali needs tourist guides who speak Russian fluently as more and more Russians are visiting Indonesia`s most famous tourist island, an official said.

Out of the 7,039 certified tourist guides available on Bali Island, only 41 speak Russian, Made Sukadana, chairman of the Indonesian Tourist Guide Association (HPI), said here on Monday.

Of the total number of tourist guides, around 2,586 speak English and 2,160 Japanese, he said.

Bali`s tourism office had recorded the arrival of 31,267 Russians visited at the Island in the January-November period in 2007, an increase of 64.5 percent from 19,000 in the same period in 2006.

A total of around 1.5 million foreign tourists visited Bali last year with the number of Japanese topping the list followed by Australians and Taiwanese while the Russians came in 13th place.

Bali was visited by 327,301 Japanese tourists in the January-November period in 2007, an increase of 40 percent from 233,588 in the same period in 2006.

The number of Australian tourists visiting Bali last year was 182,301, up by 54 percent from 117,969 in the previous year.

Bali received 132,165 Taiwanese tourists last year, a slight decrease from 132,171 in 2006.

Last year, Bali saw a total of 1.5 foreign tourist arrivals, the highest figure in the past 10 years.

17th-century warehouse turned restaurant in Old Town

I'm picky when it comes to places to eat. Maybe I have my priorities a little muddled, but unlike the typical culinary tourist, the perfect flavors and taste sensations are not enough for me.

What I search for is ambiance.

So when I had the chance to have lunch at a restaurant in a restored 400-year-old Dutch warehouse in Jakarta's designated tourist area, Old Town in Kota, North Jakarta, I was more than eager to go.

The plan behind Raja Kuring restaurant was to build a kitchen specializing in Sundanese cuisine and seafood and to provide visitors an entirely different food experience.

"Our guests will not only have a chance to dine but they'll also get a glimpse of the old Jakarta as well," Raja Kuring's director Paulus Wijaya said.

The restaurant's initial target-market was Jakartans and tourists, but today it has proved more popular with soon-to-be -married couples.

The restaurant, which has a capacity of 2,000 people, is completely booked on weekends throughout 2008 for wedding receptions.

"We have around 250 wedding receptions per year on Saturdays and Sundays," Paulus said.

"We sacrificed the theme of the Old Dutch building to fill market demands."

And despite the decor, I thought the food was reasonably good. They boast 100 different dishes with prices ranging from Rp 20,000 to Rp 250,000.

One of the kitchen's specialties, the spicy sour pomfret, is rich in spices and herbs -- chef Kietek Phuat said he used generous amounts of red chilies, lemongrass, saffron and galingale.

The Aneka Rasa Prawn also gave a bite and had a distinct Indonesian flavor including terasi paste made of shrimp.

I also tried the Prawn and Tofu ala Singapore, with tofu produced in Raja Kuring's own kitchen.

For people who are not too fussy about ambiance, Raja Kuring can be a good place to go for a fulfilling meal followed by some karaoke.

Former Indonesian strongman Suharto dies at 86

Former Indonesian strongman Suharto, who shaped and ruled the country for 32 years through ruthless but quiet authoritarianism, died Sunday at age 86, a local police chief said.

The police said Suharto, who had lapsed into a coma earlier Sunday, died at 1:10 p.m.
Cause of death is still unclear, but Suharto had been suffering from suspected congestive heart disease and had been having trouble breathing on his own for weeks.
Suharto had been undergoing treatment at Jakarta's Pertamina Central Hospital since Jan. 4. He was admitted to the hospital with edema, body swelling caused by a buildup of fluids.

Garuda to have extra flights on China routes late this year

Indonesian national flag carrier Garuda is in 2008 to conduct extra flights between Jakarta and a number of Chinese cities to meet highly increased demand for air transportation during a long holiday season in China and the Olympic Games in the Chinese capital.

"We are planning to conduct extra flights on routes between Jakarta and a number of cities in China," general manager of Garuda`s branch office in Beijing, Pikri Ilham, said here on Friday.

He said Garuda was at present serving its Jakarta-Beijing route three times a week, its Jakarta-Shanghai route four times a week and its Jakarta-Gaungzhou route four times a week.

But later this year, Garuda would conduct a total of 30 extra flights between Jakarta and the Chinese cities, namely 12 additional flights on its Jakarta-Beijing route, 12 additional flights on its Jakarta-Guangzhou route and 6 additional flights on its Jakarta-Shanghai route.

Pikri said the extra flights would be provided to meet requests from several travel agents in Beijing who foresee a drastic surge in the number of tourists from China to Indonesia and the other way round later this year.

"We have been asked by many travel agents in China to increase the number of our flights because the number of passengers during the Chinese Lunar New Year and the Olympic Games in Beijing will rise," Pikri said.

Hotel services adjusted for Galungan

The Bali Hotels Association encouraged its members to inform their guests about several service adjustments related to the Galungan holiday.

Bali Governor Dewa Beratha decided to nominate Jan. 22 to Jan. 24 as local holidays for the Balinese Hindu Galungan festival that falls on Jan. 23 this year.

"Hotels will stay open as normal but there will be a reduction in the number of staff on duty on those days," the association's executive director Djinaldi Gosana said Monday as quoted by Antara.

He said around 70 percent of hotels staff were Balinese Hindus, who conduct a series of rituals over those days.

Bintan resorts seek competitive edge

Luxury resorts in the Lagoi International Tourist Area (KPIL) on Bintan Island in the Riau Islands province are looking to lower their costs to remain competitive.

Bintan Lagoon Resort (BLR), one of the largest resorts in the area, recently built a new boarding house for its employees to save money.

KPIL, an integrated tourist zone established by the Indonesian and Singaporean governments, has been operating since 1996.

There are five resorts with five-star ratings in the area, which spans 23,000 hectares over three districts.

Infrastructure in the area, including roads, water, electricity and housing, is the responsibility of the BRC.

Based on data from the Riau Islands Tourism and Culture Office, some 30,000 foreign visitors holiday in the area monthly. Most of these people are Singaporeans.

Many domestic visitors view the area as being too exclusive and more expensive than other tourist destinations in the country.

Yudhoyono invites Japanese tourists to visit RI to familiarize Indonesian richness

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono invited the Japanese public to take part realizing the "2008 Indonesia visit year" to bring the two nations closer.

The head of state made the remark during an observance of the 50th anniversary of Indonesia-Japan Friendship at Langen Budoyo traditional building in Beautiful Indonesia-in-Miniature (TMII) park Jakarta on Sunday.

"I intentionally invite Japanese tourists to visit Indonesia to familiarize them with the richness of Indonesian culture, history and beauty," Yudhoyono said.

Earlier, Prince Akhisino expressed his happiness as the two countries had built relations in many aspects such as politics, economy, culure, and other sectors, base on heart-to-heart spirit.

"That could be done by making efforts in many aspects and also by the people of two nations and Indonesian graduates who had studied in Japan," the prince who was on tour of Indonesia said.

Temples, volcanoes and the blue, blue, sea

Yogya is renowned for its handicrafts. Javanese puppet shows – wayang kulit – are legendary. Each handmade filigree leather puppet takes weeks to create and at night, the puppets, silhouetted behind screens, perform tales from the Hindu epic poems, usually from the Ramayana, to the accompaniment of gamelan music.
Java is also famous for its textiles – specifically batik, and down Jalan Malioboro you will not be able to move for shops or touts inviting you in to see batik exhibitions. In some of the bigger craft shops selling a range of wall hangings, clothes and masks, you can also watch artists preparing the fabric.
At the heart of Yogyakarta is Kraton, a ‘city within a city’, housing the sultanate palace complex, the main parts of which were built in the eighteenth century, although the area has developed over many centuries. Kraton is home to around 25,000 people and is characterised by its gorgeous maze of back streets all containing hidden gems, such as puppet workshops or small caf├ęs, and neat little buildings huddle among the ruins of the original city walls. Once inside it is worth visiting the Water Castle, the Sultan’s secret pleasure park, where he used to entertain his harem.

But the main reason for staying in Yogya is as a base from which to visit Borobudur, 42 km northwest of the city. It is the largest Buddhist monument in existence, built in the eighth century, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vast grey mountain of 1.6 million Andesite volcanic stones rises to a height of 34.5 metres and is thought to have taken around 75 years to construct. Each of the nine tiers is lined with beautifully preserved relief sculptures and the monument houses 500 statues of the Buddha, many of which, however, were tragically decapitated by the earthquake last year.

Getting there
There are regular flights buses and trains between Jakarta and Yogyakarta;
Adisucipto airport is 8 km to the east of the city, Umbunharjo long distance bus terminal is situated 4km from the city centre and the train station is located right in the city centre on Jala Pasar Kembang. Flights from Jakarta to Bali cost around $75.
Flights between Jakarta and Yogyakarta or Yogyakarta and Bali all cost around $45.

Full article by Isobel Shirlaw

The Banyak islands in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam

The small islands in Indonesia have started to become news again. Clandestinely, several islands in outer Indonesia have been offered to foreigners for private ownership. The buyers are interested because of the beauty of those islands. An example is the multitude of Island in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam called Banyak.

The islands are located at the Aceh Singkil regency. People can use small boats to reach the islands in two hours. "Banyak" means plenty. Before the tsunami, there were 99 islands. Now there are 63 islands left and the rest are inundated with water.

Banyak islands are a microcosm of Indonesia. Here the past has merged with the present. The majority of the people are fishermen. Fish, coconuts and coral reefs are the products that people normally trade. "Those who were born on Banyak Islands are destined to become fishermen," says Dahrusyid, a local.

Sadly, the people there have to use coral reefs as the element for construction. "What else can we do? There are no proper construction material. Only coral reefs here," says Nasrante from the Bale Island.

Japanese travelers turn to Bali, Macau

Japanese outbound travel continues to slow, including to Hawaii.

For the year to date through November, Japanese arrivals to Hawaii dropped 3.5 percent to 1.2 million total visitors.

Hawaii remains the fourth most popular draw for Japanese, after China and South Korea, which are primarily of business travel destinations, and France.

Also according to the Japan National Travel Association, travel to the U.S. Mainland has declined 6.2 percent through November, while travel to Canada is down 14.8 percent through October.

Australia, New Zealand, Guam and the Northern Marianas also are seeing fewer Japanese travelers.

However, Japanese travel to Bali, Indonesia, is up 40.7 percent, while trips to Macau have increased 34.4 percent.

Jakarta left with 'no time' to prepare for tourism drive

Jakarta was left with "very little time" to prepare for Visit Indonesia Year 2008, resulting in few events being organized in the capital to support the national tourism drive, a city official said.

"The central government informed us quite late about the campaign," city tourism agency head Yusuf Effendi Pohan said Thursday at City Hall.

However, he refused to admit the city was unprepared for the campaign, which was launched on Dec. 26, 2007.

Yusuf said events in Jakarta that were expected to support the national campaign included the annual Jakarta Great Sale in June and international events such as the Java Jazz Festival in March and the JakJazz jazz festival in November.

He said several new events would also be launched in the city in 2008, including a kite festival and Jakarta Fashion Week.

The city's official tourism website, www.jakarta-tourism.go.id, fails to mention in any detail Visit Indonesia Year 2008.

Only four events to be held this year can be found on the website: Trend Furniture 2008, the International Education Expo, Trend Property 2008 and the International Renewable Energy Conference.

Remarkably, the upcoming Java Jazz Festival, to be held from March 7-9, is not mentioned. Since its inaugural year in 2005, the event has attracted an average of 100,000 domestic and international visitors each year.

Here Be Dragons

"Visitor-friendly" might not be the first description that comes to mind when talking about an island swarming with giant, carnivorous lizards. But Indonesia's Komodo, the entire area of which is a World Heritage Site and national park, is becoming just that, thanks to an array of new visitor facilities that make seeing the fabled Komodo dragons more enjoyable.

Komodo lies between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa. Overseas visitors typically take a 90-minute flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo in the western part of Flores, then charter a boat to Komodo — the closest you'll ever come to Jurassic Park.

More than 2,500 Komodo dragons still roam freely across the island, with some measuring up to 10 ft. (3 m) in length. There are 37 different types of reptile species besides, as well as 32 species of mammals. The waters off Komodo are diver heaven — home to more than 1,000 species of fish, 385 species of reef-building corals and six species of whales.

Detailed information, including a guide to alternative transport arrangements, can be found at www.komodonationalpark.org. Do note that July and August is mating season, which makes it more difficult to catch a glimpse of the dragons — and even if you do spot one, a mating Komodo dragon is disturbed only at your dire peril.

Full article

Statistics: Australian tourists return to Bali

Australian tourists are returning to the Indonesian island of Bali after the fatal bomb attacks on the island in 2002 and 2005 and several drug cases apparently drove them away.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Indonesia jumped to fourth place on the list of the most popular overseas destinations for Australians in 2007.

The ABS said the total number of Australian travellers increased by nearly 65 percent to a total of roughly half a million.

In 2006, Indonesia was the ninth choice for Australian travellers. Other top destinations for Australian tourists are New Zealand, the United States, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Clipper Round the World Race: Jamaica and Qingdao yachts cross Equator

Eight of the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race fleet crossed the finish line and arrived at their muster-point in Batam, Indonesia yesterday.

The final two of the ten internationally-backed yachts are still racing and are making good progress towards the finish line, 20 miles off the coast of Singapore. Jamaica and Qingdao both took a more westerly course than the rest of the fleet and fell behind, ground they were unable to make up.

The best estimate for their arrival is tomorrow morning (Thursday) local time, shortly after midnight GMT and both are expected in Nongsa Point Marina by lunchtime.

Qingdao has further to cover than Jamaica and Marcus Cholerton-Brown, skipper of the Chinese boat, reports that they are having to work hard.

In Nongsa Point Marina, where they received a traditional Indonesian welcome, complete with floral garlands, dancers and kompeng drummers, the crews are hard at work deep cleaning the boats and carrying out the routine maintenance and minor repairs necessary after the race from Fremantle.


1. New York: Finished 1412.20 GMT 14 January
2. Liverpool 08: Finished 1822.48 GMT 14 January
3. westernaustralia2011.com: Finished 1917 GMT 14 January
4. Hull & Humber: Finished 2215.35 GMT 14 January
5. Durban 2010 and Beyond: Finished 2332.22 GMT 14 January
6. Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper: Finished 2334.26 GMT 14January
7. Uniquely Singapore: Finished 0448.45 GMT 15 January
8. Nova Scotia: Finished 0818.44 GMT 15 January
9. Jamaica: Distance to Finish (DTF) 93
10. Qingdao: DTF: 113

Heather Ewing www.clipperroundtheworld.com

Earlier: Krakatoa welcomes the Clipper fleet to Indonesia

Indian tourists to Bali up 81 pct

The number of Indian tourists visiting Bali in the first eleven months of 2007 jumped 81.6 percent to 19,204 from a year earlier, a tour operator said.

"I believe the number of Indian tourists visiting Bali will continue to increase because Indian and Balinese peoples have many things in common," Cokorda Agung said on Wednesday.

"The potential to attract more Indian tourists is very great, the more so because India will be one of the targets of the Indonesian tourism campaign to start in February 2008," he said.

He said the Indian government had opened its culture foundation in Bali with the aim of fostering relations with the Balinese people.

India last year ranked 14th in terms of foreign tourists visiting Bali.

To conduct the tourism campaign in India, the Indonesian government has set up tourism representative offices in Delhi and Mumbai.

Similar offices have also been set up in other 11 countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Britain, China and Saudi Arabia.

Director of Foreign Promotion at the Indonesian Culture and Tourism Ministry Tatang Rukhiyat said on the sidelines of a meeting with 20 Indian film producers in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday that the number of Indian tourists visiting Indonesia last year rose 52 percent to around 84,000 from a year earlier.

Meagan McGrath summitted Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid

Meagan McGrath, a mountain climber from Sudbury, has become the only Canadian female, and the first Canadian Forces Member to achieve both versions of the Seven Summits.

“It does feel like I’ve done something,” said Meagan McGrath about her latest accomplishment, in a news release. “It took two trips to Indonesia to get it done, but it was all worth it in the end.”

After a five hour climb, Meagan summitted Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid at 8:10 am local time, on Jan. 6. She was forced to cancel an earlier attempt in December when a protest broke out in Irian Jaya, the town from which the expedition was set to begin. On December 27, 2007 she flew back to Indonesia to make her second attempt.

“Due to a last minute change from the tour operator I was required to ditch some of my gear before the helicopter could take off, “said Meagan. “I had started with 10 kilograms, which is not much by any standard. Getting rid of more gear required quick critical thinking, but I was assured there were tents and other necessary gear available at base camp.”

Asia-Pacific’s 100% adoption of e-ticketing may be vital in a more volatile 2008

The Jakarta Post reported that the International Air Transportation Industry (IATA) indicated that the air travel industry needs to achieve 100% e-ticketing in order to simplify its business. Soaring fuel prices and the spectre of a global economic downturn will result in lower profits in 2008, despite a steady growth in passenger numbers. Against this back-drop, a $US3billion saving through jettisoning paper tickets would be most welcome.

Indonesia is among the countries in the strongest position to bring an all e-ticketing (ET) system with 92% penetration, and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region is equally well-positioned to take advantage of the savings afforded by the magic 100% ET.

Self-service check-ins can be harnessed in a similar cost-cutting fashion, but here the Asia-Pacific region is still behind with only 30% of passengers using this service compared with 47% and 42% in the US and Europe respectively. Such facilities are reported to greatly improve customer satisfaction by giving the speed, convenience and control that tomorrow’s passengers demand.

However, looking to the future, perhaps Asia will lead the way with leap-frog mobile technology such as bar-coded boarding passes delivered via text to mobile handsets. Such technology must not only be available but universally adopted if Asia-Pacific is to ride-out the slowing of growth predicted by Swiss private bank Julius Baer last Friday (Singapore, 11 Jan, Reuters).

Gentle adventuring on Indonesia's Sulawesi island

Bali, Sumatra and Java are familiar names for many travellers but Sulawesi, formally known as Celebes, is relatively unknown to most tourists. But anyone who makes their way to this island is richly rewarded with unusual sights and experiences and some visitors have even been invited to funeral ceremonies.

The island's jungle has a vast variety of fauna such as apes and the surrounding coral seas are populated by seahorses.

Most tourists travel to the highlands in the south or to the Manado region in the north. Outsiders are still a novelty for most locals.

"We did well by the creator," says Kern Panambunan. The tour guide is standing on a hill in the Tomohon highlands, about an hour's drive inland from Manado.

He points out the beans and tomatoes growing between the banana plants. Cabbage heads nestle amongst cinnamon and papaya trees. In the background are palm groves, fields of rice and grazing water buffalo.

The people who live here are called the Minahasa and have mastered the art of cultivating the land and building terraces.

The market in the small town of Tomohon is not for those with weak stomaches: the roasted dogs, "did not originate from the streets but from a breeding farm," assures one seller.

Children chew sugar cane while a grandmother turns the handle of a press that squeezes juice from the cane as her neighbour grates coconut flesh.

Coffee, tea, tobacco, vanilla and different varieties of rice are all on sale at the market.

Full article

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Post-bomb lessons

A striking feature of the recovery effort after the first bomb is that it was devised after the attack took place. This is striking because, in 2002, there was widespread international recognition of the tourism industry as a potential soft target of terrorist attack. But such widespread recognition did not contribute much to the capacity of the tourism bureaucracy to prepare for disaster.

One prominent bureaucrat involved in planning the first national recovery program explained that, prior to the first bomb, the government only had strategies for responding to flood or fire.

By early 2005, the future of Bali’s tourism industry was beginning to look promising again. But then, on 1 October, the second bombs struck. The second attack had a different style of execution than the first, but the motives and targets were similar. In many respects, then, the second bomb was simply a repeat of the first, so a certain level of preparedness would be expected. Not so.

The reasons for this organisational incapacity to learn are complex. Firstly, a head-in-the-sand mentality endures in the Department of Culture and Tourism, as a former high-level bureaucrat intimated when he excused his bureaucracy’s poor preparedness for the second bomb in this way: ‘We have to think positive. To think about a recovery program would imply that we want the same tragedy to strike again.’

In fact, following the second bombings, it was not the Department of Culture and Tourism, but the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) - a private organisation comprising nine top Balinese private tourism agencies - that was made responsible for the recovery effort.

Mentawai: Surfers' paradise

West of Sumatra are the Mentawai Islands, an archipelago with waves so spectacular, Tim Elliott would brave just about anything to get there.

In the Mentawais, perfection is on tap. This extends to the quality of the food. Being stuck on a boat thousands of kilometres from the nearest food hall might lead you to expect a somewhat lower-than-usual quality of grub, but Robbie, the boat's Australian chef, is a culinary Dr Who, capable of conjuring miracle meals from a Tardis-like kitchen: tandooris, pasta, poisson cru. The only thing that excites Robbie more than the prospect of fantastic surf is when we catch a tuna or Spanish mackerel on one of the trawl lines. "Waa-haa!" he yells, filleting the fish on the back of the boat. "Fresh sashimi tonight!"

It's difficult to explain the exquisite privilege of surfing such a world-class wave by yourself. It's a little like turning up in the French Alps resort of Chamonix under three metres of fresh powder with no one around, or you and a mate playing the Old Course at St Andrews all day, completely alone.

I surf for eight hours - a personal record. I could have surfed for more but it was getting dark and the moon was rising, huge and pearly blue.

Full article
For more details on SurfAid's work, see www.surfaidinternational.org.

Krakatoa welcomes the Clipper fleet to Indonesia

New York and Liverpool 08 have edged ahead of Nova Scotia as they go on different gybes with a light breeze coming from behind them. Watching the leading four boats is proving to be very exciting. With a new leader almost every schedule as they each try different tactics and are affected by the numerous rain clouds typical of the Monsoon trough.

'How close can it get!' asks Rob McInally, skipper of Nova Scotia. 'We’re under pressure from New York and Liverpool 08 as they came bounding over the horizon late yesterday morning. We spent all night inching our way in front of them through a gate into the Sunda Straight. Around a mark and hundreds of strangely-lit fishing boats in the dark dodged the many ferries and junks. Another gate and then, in daylight, another. The wind on and off giving the advantage to one yacht then the other but at least always a breath to fight for. We managed to stay in front a make the gate first. The tussle for second through continued as the wind died. We are now traveling at one knot sideways, conveniently on a course that will allow us through the numerous oil fields.'

The area the fleet is racing through at the moment has many natural and man-made hazards. These range from shallow areas, reefs and volcanoes to a multitude of oil and gas drilling platforms. Hull & Humber skipper Danny Watson reported earlier today, 'Amazing day sailing thru the Sunda Straits under kite with the Son of Krakatoa sending up plumes of volcanic ash every 15 minutes… spectacular!' Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper and westernaustralia2011.com have both had a ringside seat for this explosive demonstration of nature in the raw.

More information: Clipperroundtheworld

Simple but smart slogan for Indonesian tourism year 2008

When a grammatical mistake was spotted in Indonesia's tourism slogan, I felt a little forgiving towards the person responsible, given the task of thinking it up. I am not trying to make excuses; I think we must admit English is one of the most complicated languages in the world.

In fact it is not only the grammar, but pronunciation, spelling and vocabulary that are also hurdles to mastering English. These hurdles are not just challenging for us who were not born as native English speakers, but also for those who were "lucky enough" to be born and educated in an English-speaking environment. Believe me, they frequently make mistakes too.

Hopefully the lesson from the grammatical mistake in our slogan will be that in the future our tourism slogans will only contain words which are warm, not gimmicky, and most importantly, eye-catching. A slogan such as "Explore the chain of islands, explore Indonesia" could be considered a more powerful and captivating slogan.

by Iyan Nurmansyah

Full article
Related: Indonesia scurries to fix blunder in new campaign

Ex-tourism head takes a swipe at uneven promotion of Indonesia

Putting Our Tourism House in Order
Leading Expert Examines Why Indonesia Continues to Get Less than its Share of the Tourism Pie.

Bali News: Putting Our Tourism House in Order (1/6/2008) The former Executive Director of the Indonesian Promotion Board and a frequent contributor to balidiscovery.com, Wuryastuti Sunario, wrote the following article that appeared in the December 17, 2006 edition of Media Indonesia..

Our free translation of that article follows:

Professional Management is Needed to Improve the Competitiveness of Indonesian Tourism

Wuryastuti Sunario

It must be admitted that despite Indonesia's rich variety of cultural and natural assets, the country is is increasingly the loser in the competition for tourism arrivals among other ASEAN countries when compared to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

In 1999, Indonesia attracted around 5 million foreign tourists or 14% of all tourism arrivals to ASEAN. Meanwhile Singapore garnered 21%, Malaysia 24% and Thailand 26%. Seven years later in 2006, Indonesia's share of all ASEAN arrivals has dropped to 8.6% while Singapore earned a 17.1% share and Thailand 24.4%. Meanwhile, Malaysian arrivals had leapt to a 31% market-share, making it the biggest tourism contributor in ASEAN. Total foreign tourists to Indonesia in 2006 totaled 4.8 million compared to 9.7 million arrivals to Singapore, 13.8 to Thailand and 17.5 million to Malaysia.

To remedy this, Indonesia hopes to bring 7 million foreign visitors to Indonesia in "Visit Indonesia Year 2008" and 6 million visitors in 2007.

In Presidential Instruction No. 16 of 2005, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono instructed his Ministers, all Government agencies, Governors, Regents and Mayors to support and coordinate closely in order to support development of Indonesian tourism. However, when success is measured by the number of tourist arrivals, the success of that policy is yet to be realized.

Why is it that Indonesia has been left behind – as though the country has been abandoned by tourists over the past decade?

Indonesia's tourism has faced many challenges requiring those working in the tourism industry to work very hard to overcome the multi-dimensional challenges of terrorism, earthquakes, tsunamis, bird flu and, most recently, the extension of the European Union's ban on Indonesian aviation. That ban has particularly crippled remote areas of Indonesia dependent on tourism such as Nias, Toraja, Maluku and Papua.

In late October of 2007 the World Economic Forum (WEF) published a competitive index for tourism. That index placed Indonesia at the 60th ranking, behind Singapore at No. 8, Malaysia No. 31 and Thailand No. 43.

This is the reality that Indonesia must confront. WEF's competitive index looked beyond the mere natural beauty, cultural attractions, prices competitiveness and competitive business practice of a destination.

The WEF's measure of competitiveness was based on 13 separate criteria including rules and regulations; policies for the control and development of tour and travel activities; environmental policies; safety; cleanliness; health; the prioritization of travel and tourism in national development; aviation infrastructure; tourism infrastructure; information and technology infrastructure; price competitiveness; quality and dynamism of human resources; national perceptions regarding tourism; and finally natural and cultural resources. Clearly, many of these areas are outside the immediate responsibility and control of the tourism sector.

Indonesia's ranking as 60th world-wide in terms of tourism competitiveness was statistically based and also contemplated TV media perceptions, both abroad and within Indonesia, that the Country is less than safe, dirty, unhealthy, etc. – all negative factors acting as disincentives for tourists considering a visit to Indonesia.

But, to be frank, in addition to external factors, there are also internal problems plaguing Indonesian tourism's ability to be globally competitive.

A closer look at the criteria which form the basis of the WEF assessment reveals that Indonesian tourism's lethargy is grounded in the weakness of overall Destination Management and Leadership, with the Country lacking professional manpower skills at every level.

The is also an lack of clarity regarding Political Will as provided by Indonesia's Executive as well as Legislative branches who constantly espouse the prioritization of tourism development but provide only minimum funding support. As a result, Indonesia is unable to compete with neighboring countries possessing larger budgets for the development and promotion of tourism.

Of no less importance, is Indonesia's demonstrated poor communication skills with the rest of the world, both on a Government level and via its national media. Indonesia seldom counters accusations and negative news presented by the international media. As a result, negative and inaccurate news reports on terrorism, disease, natural disasters and aviation accidents in Indonesia are allowed to stand fostering international perceptions that Indonesia is not an attractive tourism destination to visit.

Meanwhile, the management clout of Indonesian tourism by the Department of Culture and Tourism has lost much of its strength through the transfer of tourism development powers to Indonesia's many autonomous regions and districts, which now number around 450. These regions have been unprepared to accept this responsibility. For example, the destination of Lake Toba (North Sumatra) is under the supervision of no less than 8 regencies. Prambanan temple is in one section part of Central Java while, on another, is part of the Special District of Yogyakarta. Similarly, Mount Bromo, the Dieng Plateau and a number of other destinations are being held "hostage" among a number of competing autonomous regions. Meanwhile, the regions in Indonesia are currently more interested in tourism as a source of local tax revenues and payments rather than in how to professionally manage their destination to meet tourists' expectations and maintain global competitiveness.

From the aspect of national management of its tourism assets, the Country is currently fragmented into hundreds of autonomous units providing uneven levels of service, declining product quality standards, and substandard security and safety guarantees to both domestic and international visitors.

It is therefore the duty of the Government together with the House of Representatives (DPR) to reconfigure the hundreds of tourism management units into a single and very solid national tourism destination called "Indonesia" that will be able to compete internationally.

Another area prompting complaints from the Private Sector who must "sell" and "service" Indonesian tourism is the growing gulf that exists between the Government and the Private Sectors. In principle, cooperation between Business and Government in tourism matters should be a partnership based on a synergetic Reciprocal Interdependence; a system of mutual dependence where the function of Government is to "promote" and the role of Business sector is to "sell." "Promotion" without "selling" will be ineffective and even wasteful. On the other hand, "selling" is rendered problematic without "promotion."

In countries with advanced tourism industries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Korea Reciprocal Interdependence is manifested in a single national organization set up under the laws of the respective legislature. These bodies are semi-governmental, operating as statutory bodies managed jointly by the Government and Private Sector. These toursim bodies bring together expertise, functionality and, most importantly, combined public and private funding administered under a single, clean and professional management structure.

But in Indonesia the formulation of a semi-private or semi-government organization has been deemed illegal under the finance laws of the Country. Like it or not, the tourism budget in Indonesia is based on the limited financial ability of the Country to set aside funds for the costly promotion of tourism abroad.

Finally, and no less important, is the role of the people in developing tourism. As demonstrated in the recent Sadar Wisata campaign that emphasize safety, public order and cleanliness - these responsibilities are not the sole job of the Central Government and the Provinces. The people must also take an important role in maintaining health and environmental cleanliness, not only for the sake of tourist but for the sake of their local community as a whole. The people must always be able to derive a positive benefit from tourism development through the creation of job opportunities and improved standards of living.

If Indonesia seriously wishes to attract a significant number of international and domestic tourists this must be done through the creation of Indonesian holidays that are both safe, interesting and memorable. In addition there is a great deal of home work, public relations and socialization which must be done by leaders on the national and local level involving both the Private and Public sectors. Only in this way, Indonesian tourism can become more competitive in keeping with the general improvement of both the Nation's and the People's reputation and image.

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Siwaratri (Purgatory a la Balinese)

Tomorrow, on the dark moon of the seventh month based on the Balinese lunar calendar system, Balinese will celebrate the Siwaratri or the Night of Siwa.

This holy day is devoted to God Siwa, the destroyer. Balinese believes that on this day, God Siwa, the destroyer meditate for the welfare of the world, and the God Siwa will bestow a pardon for all sin to someone if he accompany the God Siwa in his meditation by observing some self restriction and meditate on the night of Siwaratri.

The Brata (self-restriction) of Siwaratri includes Jagra (staying awake all night long), Upawasa (fasting), and Monabrata (silence). There are three major level of self- restriction, Balinese can choose a level of self-restriction according to his capability.

Details: Baliwww

Website fails to enlighten potential tourists

As the main port of entry into the country, Jakarta is crucial to the success of Visit Indonesia Year 2008.

However, the city administration and the city tourism agency are yet to announce any special events to be held in the capital to support the central government's efforts to attract tourists.

To monitor Jakarta's involvement in Indonesia's current tourism drive, The Jakarta Post has been regularly visiting the city's official tourism website www.jakarta-tourism.go.id.

As of Friday evening, the only significant change on the website was a "Visit Indonesia 2008" logo at the top of the page.

On its main page, the website does not offer any information about Visit Indonesia 2008 programs. However, limited information can be found after clicking on the "Calendar of Events" link. After searching through events to be held in 2008, four were found.

Int'l flights to resume to Indonesia's Yogyakarta

INTERNATIONAL flights are set to resume to and from the Indonesian ancient cultural city of Yogyakarta as South-east Asia's largest economy seeks to boost tourism, an official said on Friday.

The head of Yogyakarta's tourism office, Mr Tazbir, said that flights from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur would be served by Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia, with return trips flown three or four times a week each.

'We are relaunching flights as a part of Visit Indonesia 2008,' he told AFP, referring to the country's new tourism campaign.

The national flag carrier Garuda stopped flying to the city on Java island at the end of 2005 due to a lack of aircraft, shortly before the city and surrounds were hit by an earthquake that killed 6,000 people.

Arrivals jumped 14 per cent in the first 11 months of 2007.

About 150,000 of those arrivals were to Yogyakarta, the usual launchpad for tourists visiting the ancient Buddhist temples of Borobudur and the Hindu temples at Prambanan, Mr Tazbir said.

'With international direct flights, we hope to raise the arrival of international tourists by 30 percent this year,' he said.

Indonesia Jan-Nov tourist arrivals up 14 percent yr-on-yr

The number of tourists who visited Indonesia in the first eleven months of 2007 was up 14 percent year-on-year at 4.11 million, data from the Central Bureau of Statistics showed Wednesday.

The increase was led by a 32.3 percent rise to 1.59 million arrivals on the resort island of Bali during the January-November period.

Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport, the second largest entry point in the country, reported 1.05 million arrivals, little changed from 1.04 million in the same period in 2006.

In November alone, tourist arrivals through 15 entry points nationwide reached 398,983, up from 351,351 in October.

Data from the Tourism Ministry showed 4.87 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia in 2006, with total spending of 4.45 billion US dollars.

Germans picked as first foreigners to visit Indonesia in 2008

German couple Michel and Jennifer Franchon Bernard did not expect to be feted as the first foreigners to visit Indonesia when on New Year's Day they stepped into Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, a newspaper report said Wednesday.

'What a surprise,' Michel Franchon Bernard told The Jakarta Post when a West Javan Sundanese dance troupe welcomed them upon their arrival. 'We are very happy. We never dreamed of this happening.'

The couple arrived Tuesday from Singapore for a two-week stay, during which they plan to see Jakarta, Bali and Lombok and immediately received their first souvenirs: flower wreaths and batik clothing from airport operator PT Angkasa Pura.

The welcome was made to support the government programme Visit Indonesia Year 2008, during which the country aims to attract 7 million foreign visitors, up from 5.5 million in 2006, as well as up to 6.4 billion dollars in foreign exchange.

West Java declares formation of tourism board

The West Java provincial administration here Tuesday declared the formation of a West Java Tourism Board in connection with the launching of Visit Indonesia Year 2008 by the central government.

"The board will be the spearhead of any central and provincial government initiative to develop West Java`s tourism sector. We will do it from now on," head of the West Java Tourism and Culture Office HI Budhiyana said.

The board would facilitate efforts to improve West Java`s performance in the tourism sector as well as serve as a think-tank on how the sector needs to be developed in the future, he said.

In conjunction with the launching of Visit-Indonesia Year 2008 at national level, West Java had also proclaimed a Visit West Java Year 2008 with the purpose of increasing the number of tourist arrivals in the province.

"The tourism sector saw significant growth in 2007. The year was the strategic start to raise the foreign tourist arrival target in 2008," he said.

He admitted so far the mix of tourists visiting West Java was still dominated by domestic tourists who accounted for as much 96 percent of the total number of tourist arrivals in West Java in 2007.

In 2008, the challenge and strategy in West Java`s tourism development efforts would be aimed at developing community-based tourism.

He said the tourism sector in West Java contributed some Rp19.4 trillion to the province`s revenues in 2007 while the target had been set at Rp22 trillion.

In 2007, the number of foreign tourists visiting West Java reached 350,000 compared to the target set at 500,000, he added.

He said efforts would be made to stimulate the souvenir industry in support of the West Java-Visit Year

President: Use the past as a lesson for introspection to start 2008

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked all segments Indonesian people to draw a lesson from past (2007) experience as an introspection to start the new year 2008.

The president said, an improvement in the past shortcomings should be made while maintaining the (good) achievements in entering the future.

"Thus, we step into 2008 with an optimism and stronger self confidence, and believe that the country`s development is already on the right track," the president said.