Qantas returns to the skies after fleet grounding

Qantas Airways planes returned to the skies Monday after an Australian court ruled on a bitter labor dispute that had prompted the world's 10th-largest airline to ground its entire fleet.

A flight from Sydney to Jakarta, Indonesia, took off shortly after Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority gave the "Flying Kangaroo," as the Australian flag carrier is known, the all-clear to resume flying.

Qantas said in a statement it still expected some delays as it worked to clear the backlog of customers affected by the nearly 48-hour grounding. The airline is adding extra flights and expects its schedule to return to normal within one or two days.

The grounding disrupted the travel plans of tens of thousands of people across the world, and Qantas passengers were gathering at airports in Australia, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the hopes of finally getting to their destinations.

The airline's resumption of flights comes around 12 hours after an emergency ruling by an arbitration court ended weeks of strikes and canceled a staff lockout.

The court ruling was a major victory in the airline's battle with unions representing pilots, aircraft mechanics, baggage handlers and caterers, whose rolling strikes have forced the cancellation of 600 flights in recent months, disrupted travel for 70,000 passengers and cost Qantas 70 million Australian dollars ($75 million).

But some aviation experts said the surprise grounding of all 108 planes on Saturday, at a cost of $20 million a day, has hurt the Australian flagship carrier's reputation around the world. Moody's Investors Service said it could downgrade the airline's credit ratings as the weekend's events could hurt bookings, profits and the value of the Qantas brand.

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Ground-breaking for Centara’s latest Bali resort

This resort will be the third in Bali for Centara Hotels&Resorts, Thailand’s largest operator of hotels.

The resort is being developed by Indonesian company PT. Accolades Lakshmi Resort, which has developed two other projects in Bali.

Centara Wuku Resort&Spa Bali will be a boutique property designed to five-star standards and enjoying direct access to the beach.

Facilities will include a swimming pool, a roof garden, two restaurants, a spa and fitness center, and conference facilities.

Centara Hotels&Resorts is Thailand’s largest operator of hotels, with 38 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the kingdom. A further 16 resorts in the Maldives, Philippines, Vietnam, Bali Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Mauritius Indian Ocean, brings the present total to 54 properties. Brands and properties within Centara ensure that specific categories such as couples, families, individuals, and meetings and incentives groups will all find a hotel or resort that is appropriate to their needs.
Centara operates 25 branches of Spa Cenvaree, one of Thailand’s most luxurious and innovative spa brands, and the company’s Kids’ Club is available at all the family-friendly resorts to ensure that the youngsters and teens are taken care of. Centara Hotels&Resorts also operates two state-of-the-art convention centers in Bangkok, and one in Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand.

Number of tourists visiting Komodo Island up

The number of foreign tourists visiting Komodo National Park has increased since Komodo became a finalist in the New7Wonders of Nature competition, East Nusatenggara (NTT) Deputy Governor Esthon Foenay said.

"Up to August 2011, some 32,354 foreign tourists visited the Komodo national park while the number of domestic tourists who came to the island was 4,145, up from 2,955 in 2010," the deputy governor said here on Saturday.

Foenay had accompanied New7Wonders Foundation President Bernard Weber during a visit to Komodo Island on Thursday (Oct 27) together with former vice president M Jusuf Kalla who now also serves as a komodo ambassador.

if Komodo Island is selected as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, the local community could expect to enjoy great economic benefits as the island would then attract many more foreign tourists as did India`s Taj Mahal after the monumental building was named one of the New7Wonders.

In 1977, Komodo National Park was named a biosphere reserve by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

And in 1991, UNESCO named the island accommodating around 3,000 komodo dragons, a world heritage.

After the voting deadline on November 11, 2011, the New7Wonders Foundation will declare seven of the 28 sites named finalists in the ongoing New7Wonders competition as world Wonders of Nature.

Komodo needs around 30 million votes to make it to the New7Wonders list, he said, urging the Indonesian people to give their votes by typing Komodo on their cellphones and sending the word to 9818.

Qantas grounds its entire fleet

Australia's Qantas Airways said it was grounding all aircraft over a labour dispute and the move would cost it A$20m ($21.4m) a day.

Alan Joyce, the airline's chief executive, told a press conference in Sydney on Saturday that all aircraft would remain grounded indefinitely until unions representing pilots and ground staff reached an agreement with Qantas over pay and work conditions.

Joyce said: "We have decided to ground the Qantas international and domestic fleets immediately.''

The carrier, which has been hit by a series of strikes, said all employees involved in the action would be locked out from Monday evening and flights grounded from 0600 GMT Saturday.

"Pilots, licensed engineers and baggage, ground and catering staff are essential to Qantas operations and the lockout will therefore make it necessary for all Qantas aircraft to be grounded," the airline said.

Flights already in the air when the announcement was made will continue to their destinations.

"However, there will be no further Qantas domestic departures or international departures anywhere in the world," Qantas said.

"This step is being taken in response to industrial action taken by these unions."

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Bali also wants to become spiritual tourism destination

Bali has spiritual tourism potentials that should be more seriously developed by the government, local community members said.

Apart from conventional vacationers, Bali was now already often visited by American and European tourists who meditate at its temples to seek spiritual peace or fulfilment, they noted.

"With its temples held sacred by the Hindu population and its many centers of artistic and cultural activity, Bali has all the makings to become a spiritual tourism destination," I Wayan Aksara, marketing manager of Puri Ageng Blahbatuh, said here on Tuesday.

Wayan, who is also an artist, hoped the government would become aware of and seriously develop Bali`s spiriitual tourism potentials.

"Spritual tourism development, of course, must be done with due respect for the rules in each region and avoid violating the essence of religious activities at temples," Wayan said.

A member of the Gianyar Legislative Council, Dewa Anom Astawa, said he hoped many parties would be involved in the efforts to develop Bali`s e spiritual tourism potentials.

"Local spiritual leaders should also take part in these efforts because they know the essence of spiritual activities," Anom Astawa said.

Spiritual tourism, according to Anom Astawa, was not only for r foreigners but also for Indonesians because they too needed opportunities to reinvigorate or revitalize their spirit.

"Therefore, the infrastructure of spiritual tourism needs to be packaged in efficient but attractive ways so it will really help to bring peace, not problems, to the tourists" Anom Astawa added.

Anom said Balinese people had for a long time wanted to see spiritual tourism being developed on their island but they realized it would take time.

Meanwhile, according to Bali`s statistics bureau, as many as 49,989 US tourists visited Bali in the January-July 2011 period or up 25.58 percent compared with the number in the same period last year which was recorded at only 39,806

A total of 78,082 French tourists visited Bali in the January- August period in 2011, or up 6.92 percent from 73,027 in the same period last year. Tourist arrivals from Britain rose 7.67 percent from 62,358 to 67,143.

Meanwhile, the number of tourist arrivals from Germany fell 1.31 percent to 53,696 from 54,410

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Indonesia tourism ready to compete in ASEAN community

As a member of ASEAN, Indonesia, its tourism industry in particular, is ready for the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 when trade, services and manpower will flow freely within the region.

"Beginning in 2015, manpower in the tourism sector will flow freely within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), but we are optimistic that the competitive edge of Indonesia`s human resources in the tourism sector is already strong," Head of Tourism Resources Development Agency of the Tourism Ministry I Gde Pitana said recently.

Indonesia`s human resources in the tourism sector would play a dominant role within the ASEAN region. To support this role, I Gde Pitana`s office had been making various efforts, among others, research, development and training.

"The research we have conducted is not always scientific in nature but practical so that it can be applied by industry at the technical and policy levels," he said. In the field of education I Gde Pitana`s office had set a target of increasing the number of graduates from higher learning institutes in tourism studies and tourism academies under the tourism ministry.

"We are optimistic because several indicators show that the competitive edge of our human resources in the tourism sector is improving," he said.

He said that in 2009, the World Economic Forum (WEF) placed Indonesia`s tourism human resources in the 40th position among 133 countries in the world. Moreover, Indonesia had for a long time been using a tourism educational curriculum based on the ASEAN Common Competency Standards for Tourism Professionals (ACCSTP). These standards were being aplied in the whole ASEAN region.

In the meantime, newly appointed Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu who replaced Jero Wacik, expressed her determination to make the tourism and creative economy sectors as a source of foreign exchange that contributed a lot to the national economy.

"I think we need discussions in this matter," she said. Though, the new tourism minister appreciated very much the achievement made so far by her predecessor Jero Wacik.

"I promise to continue Jero Wacik`s programs," Mari added.

Among the programs that deserved to be continued included the development of Belitung and Lombok islands as a tourism mainstay destination, the development of an airport in North Bali and Indonesia`s tourism branding "Wonderful Indonesia,"

Over the last three years, Jero Wacik was able to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals in the country to 6.4 million in 2009 and over 7 million in 2010. This year the tourism ministry is targeting 7.7 million arrivals. Even, next year, the target is likely to be raised to 8 million.

"The target for this year is over seven million and until now 5.3 million foreign tourists had come to the country," Tourism and Creative Economy Deputy Minister Sapta Nirwandar said meanwhile.

He said that for 2012, Indonesia was expecting eight million foreign tourist arrivals.

Indonesia had set a higher target for 2012 because the number of foreign tourists to Southeast Asian countries was expected to grow by around five percent due to improving conditions in the region.

Read more..

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Plan for man-made orangutan islands in North Sumatra

A British conservationist is leading an audacious plan to create a chain of man-made islands in northern Sumatra that would liberate the Indonesian island's population of caged orangutans.

Dr Ian Singleton aims to create four islands of grass, shrubs and trees for sick and injured orangutans – those who are unable to be reintroduced to the natural habitat – to roam, freeing them from the 3x4m cages in which they currently reside.

Singleton is currently in the process of securing land for the islands. The ideal location would be near the coast with a consistent supply of fresh water via a stream or river.

Diggers, operated by local contractors, will then carve up the land to create moats, thereby encircling the land with water. The earth removed by the digging will be used to landscape the islands to make them ape-friendly.

Orangutans, which can't swim, will be reluctant to leave the islands due to the water, although Singleton plans to erect an electric fence to ensure the creatures don't drown.

"Depending on the site, it shouldn't take us too long to create the islands, as long as the moats don't leak," Singleton told the Guardian from northern Sumatra.

Singleton has been in Sumatra since 2001, following stints at zoos in Jersey and Edinburgh. He leads the Orangutan Conservation Programme in the country and is funded by a Swiss NGO, PanEco.

While the immediate aim is to protect the captive orangutans, Singleton hopes the project will inform local people about the threat to the animal's survival via an education centre and guided walks.

There are only an estimated 6,000 orangutans left in Sumatra, due to deforestation and conflict with humans.

Singleton is working with the Australian Orangutan Project to raise funds for the island development.

Read more..

A Call to Safeguard Bandung’s Dutch Heritage

Passing through the Braga area of Bandung feels like stepping back in time. European heritage buildings line the streets like footprints betraying the city’s Dutch colonial past, lending “Parijs van Java” its special atmosphere.

In fact, Jalan Braga’s rows of European buildings also make it a popular location for photography, both by locals and tourists. It’s not uncommon to see pre-wedding shoots under way.

Unfortunately, according to Harastoeti Dibyo Hartono, the head of the Bandung Society for Heritage Conservation, Braga’s condition is far from comfortable. Unregulated transport, a damaged road surface and poorly maintained heritage buildings have left the street looking shabby and glum, its tourist-pulling power all but lost.

A slowly eroding past

The environment has certainly changed, along with the names of streets, such as Pedatiweg — now Jalan Braga — but the old buildings are like bridges connecting the present with the past.

Just stick your nose into the Sumber Hidangan cake shop. The bakery, previously named Het Snoephuis, has been standing since 1929. It’s not only the walls and roof that are old, but the scales, coffee roaster and cake and bread-baking equipment, too .

Even though the owners are of Chinese descent, the shop sells cakes made in the Dutch tradition — janhagel, kattetong, eierkoeken, bokkepootjes and kaasstengels — ­all reinforce Bandung’s connection with Holland.

“This cake shop used to be full of customers, Indonesians and foreigners,” said Erna, 70, who has been working since 1959 for the store at Jalan Braga 20-22.

During the Dutch East Indies period, the bakery and adjoining restaurant was the gathering place for activists of Bandoeng Vooruit, a movement to promote tourism and civic life in the city.

Erna said the shop was not as busy as it used to be.

“There are some pieces that we can’t use anymore because they’re broken and there are no spare parts,” Erna said, pointing to an antique cash register.

Another one of the victims is the Sarinah Department Store, its structure in ruins. In its heyday, the store, which used to be named Onderling Belang, was the second branch of the Amsterdam-based fashion center. It opened its doors around 1910 and was renamed by President Sukarno.

“Now the atmosphere is so noisy that people are reluctant to shop in Jalan Braga,” Harastoeti said regretfully.

Bringing back the luster

Harastoeti says there are several things that could be done to return Braga’s luster, with the goodwill of the Bandung government. One is to reduce the volume of traffic passing through.

“It used to be easy to cross the road. People weren’t bothered by the traffic because there was only a little,” Harastoeti said. “Now, it’s impossible. There’s so much traffic and people find it a struggle to cross. The road splits the area in half.”

Another thing the government could do is ask store owners in the area to adopt one concept to make the shopping district attractive again. “Then we just have to package it to regain its appeal as a tourist destination,” Harastoeti said.

Promoting Braga as a tourist attraction is something that has long been a goal of the head of the Bandung branch of the Tour and Travel Agents of Indonesia (Asita), Herman Rukmanandi. He says the area holds great promise, especially for Dutch tourists.

“Since I worked as an unofficial tour guide in the 1980s, Braga had great potential, especially since Bandung and Braga are already well-known to the Dutch. We just have to remind them to visit,” he said.

The Bandung tourism department says the administration is starting to listen to calls for a Braga makeover. The city plans to hold meetings with interested parties to determine how to package the area for tourism.

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China, Middle East to support Indonesian tourism industry: Mari

New Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu says Indonesia’s tourism will not be hurt significantly by slowing growth in the US and Europe, because of the growing number of tourists from China especially.

The former trade minister expressed her optimism on Sunday in Nusa Dua, Bali, that the number of Chinese visitors would continue to climb following China’s persistent economic growth.

She also said the number of tourists from Russia and Singapore would continue to increase.

“As of August, the number of tourists from these three countries was still up [compared to 2010 figures],” Mari said at a press conference for the ASEAN Fair, which is scheduled to be opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Nusa Dua on Monday.

Mari added that she would also target to bring more visitors from the Middle East to Indonesia,
since many preferred Malaysia over Indonesia.

“We’ll grab those Mideast visitors,” she said.

The minister concluded that Indonesia would rely on ASEAN, Asian and Mideast tourists to boost its tourism industry amid the debt crises in the US and Europe.

“As of August, there were 5.8 million [foreign tourists]. I’m optimistic that this figure can reach 7 million this year. As for next year, we’ll see,” Mari said as quoted by

Sabang tourism pins hope on new minister

The natural seaport city of Sabang on Weh Island in the western part of Aceh province which is rich in marine tourism potentials is waiting for the new tourism minister`s help to develop its tourism.

Sabang which has a natural deep-sea port sits on Weh Island where the extraordinarily beautiful submarine biota and scenery constitute great potentials for the development of marine tourism.

With these potentials, local tourism operators are convinced that newly appointed Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu will not ignore it and extend a helping hand to develop and advance Sabang`s tourism.

"The central government will not ignore Aceh`s tourism potentials but will continue to pay attention to its development , particularly the development of Sabang tourism," Aceh tourism operator Zulfikar said.

Zulfkiar, who is also secretary of the Indonesian Restaurant and Hotel Association (PHRI) for Aceh, said that Aceh expected the minister`s attention through her ministry in the form of promotions of the province?s potentials.

"At least, Sabang, which is now developing itself into a national tourism destination should be promoted as a venue for national and international tourism events," Zulfikar said.

The ministry of tourism and creative economy was also expected to partner with national investors to develop Sabang.

Head of Sabang`s Tourism and Culture Service Yusfah Hanum also expressed hope that Minister Mari Elka Pangestu would launch intensive promotions to introduce the tourism potentials of Sabang Islands.

"I am confident that Madam Mari Pangestu would come to see herself the tourism potentials of Sabang whose beauty has been well-known not only by local tourists but also foreign ones. These potentials should be developed so that it would be comparable to other popular tourism destinations in the country," Yusfah said.

Tourism observers and foreign visitors admitted that Sabang had beautiful tourism objects such as the undersea natural panorama at Pulau Rubiah, the white sand beach of Gapang and a number of other tourist destinations in the Weh Island.

The local government will also maintain Sabang?s natural beauty in developing its tourism.

Therefore, The local government will introduce an environmentally friendly tourism development concept through a conservation program, especially in Aneuk Laot tourism area.

"The local government of Sabang has the commitment to developing Sabang`s tourism sector through an environmentally friendly concept," Head of Sabang`s Tourism and Culture Service Yusfah Hanum said.

In developing the facilities at Lake Aneuk Laot, the local government will not use cement materials so that the location would look naturally beautiful and match the existing environs.

"The development of supporting facilities will become the local government`s priorities so that the tourism sites will remain clean and natural in an effort to make visitors enjoy themselves when they visit Sabang," Yusfa said.

This means that international tourists who have ever visited Sabang would come back to Sabang such as those who took part in the recent Sabang International Regatta 2011, a yacht festival, where at least 11 yachts came from the Netherlands, Britain, the United States, Australia, Malaysia and Thailand .

Sabang Internasional Regatta 2011 was aimed at introducing maritime tourism potentials of the island which has a population of 30 thousands and a target of attracting at least 10,000 tourists annually.

Read more..
Related: Sabang ready to welcome investors in tourism sector

Toba 'orchid paradise' yields 200 new species

Scientists say they have found almost 200 new species of orchids in the Eden Park tourist forest in Sionggang village in Toba Samosir, North Sumatra.

A group led by botanists and orchid experts Ria Telambanua and Michele Sirait has been exploring the area for years.

“We’ve successfully identified almost 200 species of forest orchids after almost four years of research. We intentionally haven’t published any of them for the sake of preservation,” Ria said on Sunday in Toba Samosir.

The discovery of new orchid species was typically followed by large-scale exploitation, she said.

The researchers identified the new species by identifying morphological differences, using orchid catalogues and by consulting with experts.

“This area is an orchid paradise. It has extraordinary natural riches. There are thousands more orchid species that have yet to be identified here,” she said as quoted by Antara.

Ria and Michele will launch a book on the new species late next month, Ria said, adding that a portion of the profits would be donated to orchid experts.

Lombok Mandalika Tourism Resort development started

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will conclude his three-day working visit in Lombok by starting a ground-breaking development of Mandalika Resort on Friday morning.

Located along the coastal beach of Kuta in Lombok Tengah district, West Nusa Tenggara, and some some 70 km south of Mataram, Mandalika Resort is expected to revive the tourism sector in Lombok.

The resort is a representative area where a number of star-rated hotels have been built for international events and for visiting guests and tourists from other countries.

History has proven that the land in the southern part of Lombok is not good for farming due to the high level of acidity, lack of water and hot weather.

But with beautiful beaches, it makes the area good for tourism resort that was supported by a United Nations Development Program decision in 1987.

The land from Kuta Beach up to Gunung Kelluh Beach was chosen for Mandalika Tourism Resort for it is suitable for recreation on the land and in the sea as it has fascinating scenery both on the ground and underwater.

The policy of the central government of Indonesia is that tourism in the eastern part of the archipelago should be enhanced. In support of this policy, the authority of West Nusa Tenggara decided to develop the southern part of Lombok.

After delivering a short message, President Yudohoyono will press the button of siren to mark the ground-breaking development of Mandalika Tourism Resort in Lombok.

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Mari Pangestu becomes the new Tourism Minister

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tapped Trade Minister Mari Pangestu to run the country’s tourism and creative economy ministry in a cabinet shuffle as the second-term leader faces falling approval ratings.

“I trust Mari Pangestu to lead the ministry,” Yudhoyono said at a press briefing at the presidential palace in Jakarta late yesterday. “I want, in the next three years, to develop tourism and the creative economy. Mari Pangestu has been successful in developing the creative economy and creative industry.”
(source: World Economic Forum, Flickr)
Pangestu, 54, was appointed trade minister in 2004, when Yudhoyono was elected to his first term. She was an executive director at Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies before that. She will be succeeded by Gita Wirjawan, 46, currently head of the government’s investment coordinating board.

Yudhoyono won a second five-year term with 61 percent of the vote in 2009 on pledges to boost the economy, double infrastructure spending and clean up graft. His public support has fallen amid complaints he’s been slow to act, and after the former treasurer of his Democrat party was accused of corruption. Support reached a record low 46.2 percent in a nationwide survey by Jakarta-based Indonesian Survey Circle, taken Oct. 5-10.

“Now is the right time,” Yudhoyono said, referring to the cabinet changes. “Helped by the vice president, we did a mid- term review. The evaluation is a must so that we can complete the tasks of the next three years.”

Yudhoyono said developing the country’s domestic economy is a priority for the remainder of his final term as president.

“With the global economy right now, I want our trading to penetrate the global market,” he said. “On the other side, our domestic economy is big, and getting bigger. We want the domestic trade policy -- inter-island, inter-province, managed well and developed.”

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Yogyakarta Royal wedding

After one year of preparation and three days of pre-nuptial rituals, GKR Bendara, the youngest daughter of Yogyakarta Sultan Hamengkubuwono X is finally married to her boyfriend, KPH Yudhanegara.

Yudhanegara arrived the palace’s Panepen mosque at 7:10 a.m. this morning where Sultan Hamengkubuwono X waited with honorary guests, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono.

The groom sat on the floor facing the father of the bride who led the ceremony and to whom, in accordance with palace tradition, he recited his marriage vows.

“KPH Yudhanegara, I marry you with my daughter, GKR Bendara,” the Sultan said in the highest form of the Javanese language krama inggil.

“I marry GKR Bendara with a Koran, a set of worship instruments and jewelry as dowry,” the groom said.

After the vow, the groom returned to the Kesatrian prince hall, while the Sultan and the guests moved to the main Kencana hall for the next ritual, panggih.

Panggih is the peak of the ceremony where the bride and groom meet for the first time as man and wife.


Indonesia's Great Train Story

Long before Jakarta’s streets were jammed with cars, the train had its glory days serving commuters into and out of the capital and across Java. There are around 600 historic railway stations in Java and Sumatra, all built by the colonial Dutch East India Company (VOC) administration in the 19th century. Most of them are not well preserved.

In a recent lecture titled “The Great Train Story,” delivered as part of the Indonesian Heritage Society’s Fall 2011 lecture series, railway restoration expert Ella Ubaidi outlined her vision for reviving Indonesia’s colonial-era stations.

Ella is the executive vice president of the Center for the Preservation of Historic Artifacts (UPPBB), a unit formed in April 2009 under the new management of state railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia.

Over the past two years, UPPBB has revitalized 20 train stations across the country, including the Senen and Jatinegara stations in Central and East Jakarta, and has started work on the Lawang Sewu station in Semarang and the iconic Tugu station in Yogyakarta. Aside from renovating the buildings, old steam engines and wooden carriages have also received a makeover.

Ella said the restoration efforts were intended to boost the image of KAI. For many years, the state railway operator has suffered from a poor reputation due to lax maintenance of railway stations and lines.

“I never used to take the train to commute,” Ella said. “The stations were always dirty, even buying a ticket seemed like a lot of hassle.”

Ella hopes better train stations will boost economic development. She gives the example of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, which still operates as a train station, but has also been renovated to include up-market restaurants and boutiques, while preserving the historic building itself.

Ella said that because KAI has never added any stations to the existing rail network left by the Dutch, all of the stations were considered heritage buildings and were protected by law, even though some have already been abandoned due to their state of disrepair. By law, the buildings cannot be destroyed, but they can be restored.

Ella said the conservation approach for each station was different, depending on the condition of the building. During her studies of historic preservation at the University of Southern California, Ella learned that there are two ways to preserve historic buildings. The first is to preserve the building by documenting its features, such as by taking photographs and videos, and the second is by expansion.

The Louvre Museum in Paris is one example of preserving by expanding.

“It’s very adaptive because we expand according to our needs, but we still get to see the building,” Ella said.

The important thing in preservation, she added, is to see heritage buildings not only as cultural resources, but also as a part of our daily lives. In Semarang, the Lawang Sewu (Thousand Doors) station is one such iconic structure undergoing restoration. Once the central office for the first Dutch railway company, the aging building is undergoing a makeover to become a handicrafts center, shopping arcade and museum.

Picture of Lawang Sewu retored station
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Solo keroncong Festival 2011

Thousands of spectators crowded the Solo Keroncong Festival 2011 in Ngarsopuro, right in front of the Triwindu Market in Solo.
They were mesmerized as Endah Laras, a traditional singer from Solo, presented “Gemes” (Carried away), a song in the langgam or Javanese-style of keroncong, which is long known as Portuguese-tinged Indonesian music.
The song, written by Anjar Any and popularized in the 1970s by keroncong maestro Waldjinah, was jovially and temptingly sung by Endah that evening, testimony to the fact that keroncong is not always slow and soothing music.
Endah was not alone in adding color to keroncong during the festival. Earlier, the Zakaria Keroncong Orchestra offered a humorous piece entitled “Pakne Thole” (Boy’s dad). Presented in a duet, the old Javanese song triggered roars of laughter after being modified into an intensely expressive and almost theatrical composition for the stage, leading to calls to repeat the performance.
On the first day of the festival, Congrock from Semarang appeared with a blend of keroncong and rock music to suit the taste of the youth in the audience, making the show more attractive and less monotonous, while stirring the crowds to dancing and shouting. The notion that keroncong is for retirees was also dispelled as “Rumah Kita” (Our house), a song from the rock band Godbless, spurred people to sing along in the keroncong style and wave like rock music fans do at concerts.
“Through such music, we’re trying to offer and introduce keroncong to the younger generation. Keroncong will survive unless it’s monotonous, so there should be [new] creations. We can’t force today’s youth to enjoy keroncong in the style of olden times,” said Marco Manardi, Congrock’s leader.
For two nights the public welcomed the Solo Keroncong Festival with overwhelming enthusiasm. Many visitors were even prepared to sit in the road to watch the performances on two big screens set up on both sides of the stage. The throngs of onlookers in Ngarsopuro seemed untroubled by the suicide bombing that had recently shocked the city.
Opened by former Transportation and Manpower Minister Erman Suparman, the second Solo Keroncong Festival had 18 keroncong groups from various regions as participants, including five foreign troupes from Italy, Hong Kong, Hungary, Malaysia and Singapore.
The event started with teenage keroncong musicians from the Putra Mawar Timur Solo Orchestra. Mostly junior high school students, they elegantly presented an instrumental medley that displayed their musical skills. The famous keroncong hits “Kota Solo” (Solo city), “Bengawan Solo” (Solo River) and “Tanah Air” (Motherland) marked the beginning of the international festival.

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Garuda targets Korean travellers

Garuda Indonesia, after years of concentration on safety improvements, is preparing to aggressively target Korean passengers, adding new flights and hiring Korean flight attendants.

“Korea is a prospective market for us. Business between Korea and Indonesia is growing strongly,” said Emirsyah Satar, chief executive of Garuda Indonesia, explaining the company’s strategies for Korea, currently its sixth-largest market outside Indonesia.

“You will see more Garuda flights in the next few years,” the executive said in a press conference last week.

Currently, the Indonesian flag carrier flies to Incheon only, taking Koreans to Jakarta six times a week and to the resort island of Bali five times.

Garuda will go daily on both routes in the coming weeks ― the Incheon-Jakarta route from the middle of December and the Incheon-Bali route from the start of November.

The demand for air travel between Korea and Indonesia is expected to grow steadily, its officials said. The number of Korean visitors to Indonesia topped 300,000 last year, up 17 per cent from a year earlier. There are more than 50,000 Koreans residing in Jakarta and elsewhere in the country, making up the largest expat community in Indonesia.

On top of increased flights, Garuda is striving to improve in-flight services.

Agus Priyanto, an executive in charge of services, said the firm’s efforts to meet the needs of Koreans go from a little detail such as their preference of slippers to socks to their desire for Internet access on board.

“We’re trying to provide full connectivity on flights to Korea,” Priyanto said, explaining local regulations as the hindrance.

As part of its efforts to provide tailored services to Koreans, Garuda has hired 22 new Korean flight attendants early this year, boosting the number of Korean crew members to 33.

“We’re confident that Korean passengers will recognise our efforts,” Priyanto said.

A key reason for the confidence is the “Visa On Board” service, which is offered exclusively on some Garuda flights.

Two immigration officers, on board its flights from Incheon to Jakarta, check passengers’ passports and process their visa, saving them from the trouble of having to line up at immigration counters on the ground. The service will be expanded soon to include the Incheon-Bali route, the executive said.

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Bali Ranks High in 2011 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards

Conde Nast Traveler has published the 2011 edition of the “Readers’ Choice Awards” naming the best hotels, resorts, destinations, cruise lines and airlines in the opinion of the more than 800,000 paid subscribers with an audited circulation of 3.5 million.

In the words of the magazine’s editors: "These awards reflect the combined opinions of 28,876 Condé Nast Traveler readers rating the cities, islands, and hotels they visited in the past year, and the airlines and cruise ships they traveled with. For its range and depth, the Readers’ Choice Awards are a unique and trusted source of advice globally."

Bali and its range of outstanding properties, as in years past, won recognition in the 2011 awards.

Here’s the Bali highlights:

World Best Hotels

In the ranking of the top hotels in the world, the following Bali properties won honors.
Ranked at #42 with an overall score of 95.7 [AYANA Resort and Spa]
Ranked at #64 with an overall score of 94.9 [Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan]
Ranked at #91 with an overall score of 94.5 [Amandari Resort] in Ubud

Top Islands in Asia

Bali was ranked #2 with a core of 84.3. Winning top post as Asia’s best island was the Maldives (score 87.5). Phuket ranked #3 with a score of 80.0.

Asia’s Best Resorts
Ranked #1 with an overall score of 95.7 [AYANA Resort & Spa]
Ranked #2 with an overall score or 94.9 [Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan]
Ranked #15 with an overall score of 94.7 [Laguna Luxury Collection]
Ranked #16 with an overall score of 84.1 [Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay]

World’s Best Airlines

The following airlines serving Bali won Readers’ Choice recognition:
Ranked #1 Singapore Airlines
Ranked #4 Cathay Pacific
Ranked #7 Korean Air

World’s Best Small Airlines

In this category, one airline serving Bali from Australia was:
[Virgin Australia] ranking #10 in this category.

[Download the Entire Artice from Conde Nast Traveler]

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to All images and graphics are copyright protected.

Ecosfera Bali Hotel: A Retreat For Surfers and Yoga/Dance Practitioner

Ecosfera Bali hotel is an excellent choice for those who look for a serene retreat near the famous surf beach. This pretty boutique hotel set in Canggu area, a few minutes from Echo beach is designed to be a Bali hotel providing relaxation and comfort of Asian resort with healthy and active lifestyle. It is so hard not to be amazed by its stylish interior design and the atmosphere. Due to its wonderful location which is tranquil but not far from Kuta and also very close to the idyllic surf beach, this unique Bali hotel is a perfect for surfers, dancers, and active yoga practitioners.

This affordable Bali hotel has 28 rooms that will cater your needs during relaxing holiday in Bali. Its rooms are designed with some solid colors accompanied by rustic furniture created a unique atmosphere. The rooms are comfortable presenting your home away from home. At this Bali boutique hotel you have good selections of room from economic rooms for surfers and suite rooms with private garden and majestic view. The spacious rooms are so airy and bright containing facilities you might expect in a serene Bali holiday hotel. At Suite you will find Moroccan style interior design as well as kitchen.

Without any question, Ecosfera Bali Hotel provides you with entertainment facilities such as ECO Spa, swimming pool, and ECO restaurant. In the meantime the staff at this cheap Bali hotel will arrange Yoga, Salsa Dance, and marital art classes for you.

This affordable boutique hotel in Bali is unquestionably the retreat for both surfers and yoga/dance practitioners due to its cheap rate, wonderful location, and the atmosphere.

Accor Eyes 200 New Hotels in Asia by 2014

France's Accor, one of the world's biggest hotel groups, said Friday it plans to open more than 200 new properties in Asia within three years as it looks to cash in on the region's increasing affluence.

Accor, which owns 4,200 hotels worldwide -- including 450 Ibis, Novotel, All Seasons, Sofitel, Pullman and Mercure resorts in Asia--Pacific -- said it was targetting China, India and Indonesia as its key growth markets.

As the usual key markets in Europe and the United States struggle with limp economies and debt crises, Accor has said Asia would overtake the West as its biggest growth area.

It announced in February that 42 percent of the 100,000 new rooms it is planning to add around the world will be in Asia.

By the end of this year the group will have opened more than 60 new hotels in Asia--Pacific, said Accor regional spokesman Ewan Lewis, with the figure increasing to 200 by 2014.

Like other big hotel names, Accor provides its name and operating model to local partners.

The group currently has 110 hotels in China, and plans to open 55 by 2014. It has only nine establishments in India but plans to open 63 within three years.

In Indonesia it will open 34 hotels to add to the 43 it already has.

"We will nearly double the number of rooms, from approximately 7,500 now to 14,000," Guillouet Gerard, Vice President for Accor Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, told AFP in Jakarta.

"We plan to have 100 hotels by 2015" in Indonesia, he said.

Quake shakes Bali, tourists run from hotels

Indonesia's resort island of Bali was struck by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake on Thursday, injuring dozens and sending tourists running out of hotels.

The Red Cross said 43 people in the south of the island suffered injuries, including head wounds and broken bones, after some ceilings fell.

Seventeen were taken to hospital in the island's capital Denpasar, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho from the disaster mitigation agency.

The epicenter of the quake was about 100 miles southwest of Denpasar, the U.S. geological survey said.

Caroline Mercier, a 40-year-old tourist in the island's cultural center of Ubud, said she was used to feeling quakes in California, but never like this one.

"It started at my feet and went all though my heart and head -- it made me nauseous. My first reaction was to get out of the house. I was very confused when the roof started shaking," she told Reuters.

Novotel Bali Benoa, one of many resorts in the luxury southern beach area of Nusa Dua, evacuated its guests as the hotel shook for a minute.

"The funny thing is that the foreign guests who were sitting in the lobby did not feel the shaking. They started running when hearing people say 'there's an earthquake' while running down the lobby," hotel worker Ariyanti told Reuters.

Endro Tjahjono, head of information at Bali's meteorology agency, said there was no tsunami potential. Cracks appeared in the walls and glass lobby windows of his office in the southern town of Kuta, and some top floor ceilings fell, he said.

Surfing: Amid the Waves, Indonesia Seeks to Finds Its Feet

Darmaputra Tonjo’s ninth-place finish on Tuesday at a world junior surfing competition in Bali was one of the best finishes for an Indonesia surfer in a professional competition.

His performance also signals that native surfers are slowly clawing their way onto the world stage of competition.

Eighteen-year-old Australian Davey Cathels won the event, beating over 30 other participants in the first of three competitions to decide the global junior (under 21) champion.

But along the way, 20-year-old Tonjo from Legian, Bali, defeated the world No. 1 and No. 2 ranked junior surfers.

Tonjo, a wildcard seed in the tournament, beat reining junior champion Jack Freestone from Australia on Friday at the Oakley World Pro Junior after defeating the second-ranked Nat Young in the previous round.

“I’m so happy,” Tonjo said on Friday. “I cannot believe that I beat the No. 1 and No. 2.”

Tonjo lost in the fourth round to Hawaiian Ezekial Lau, but the performance is still a milestone. It follows support from the Indonesian Surfing Championship, an organization that stages events aimed at refining surfers’ skills to help them develop and compete for prize money.

“We’re sort of tapping into the natural resources of Indonesia — both the surfers and the waves,” said Tim Hain, the ISC’s media director. “Our goal is to cultivate their love for surfing and help them provide for their families. We can help them make a living. Without surfing, a lot of these kids would be selling drinks to tourists on the beach.”

Indonesia — especially Bali — is home to some of the best surfers and waves in the world. There are several professional surfers who earn an income from sponsorships to keep them afloat in the sport. But competing on the world stage requires visas — which can be hard to obtain — and money.

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Bali Tourists Warned off Jungle Juice Cocktails

Australian holiday makers on the Indonesian island of Bali were urged Wednesday to steer clear of so--called Jungle Juice cocktails after a 25--year--old nurse was repatriated after suffering brain damage and kidney failure.

Jamie Johnston fell ill after drinking rice wine her doctors suspect was laced with methanol while holidaying with her mother on the neighboring island of Lombok.

The Jungle Juice, rice wine mixed with fruit juice, was served to her in a popular restaurant. It was contaminated with methanol, a chemical commonly used in anti--freeze.

"I think it's a tragic case," New South Wales state Health Minister Jillian Skinner told Australia's AAP news agency. "It could happen to anyone. If you drink or eat anything or you're sick when you're traveling, seek immediate help."

Silk Air Opens Up First Bandung-Singapore Route

An announcement was heard on the public address system at Husein Sastranegara International Airport in Bandung when the clock struck 4:23 p.m. on Tuesday.

“Silk Air, flight number MI169 from Singapore has touched down,” the announcer said. The Singapore-based carrier made its maiden flight to Bandung on Tuesday, opening its first direct route from Singapore to the West Java capital.

The route ended AirAsia’s monopoly on international flights to and from the city, at one time known as the Paris of Java for its culture and architecture. Silk Air will fly the route three times a week.

“Bandung will be our ninth destination in Indonesia” Silk Air CEO Marvin Tan said at a press conference.

“Bandung has a lot of exciting activities like shopping, visiting Mount Tangkuban Perahu, the Ciwidey crater and golfing. Golf in Singapore can be quite expensive, so Singaporeans can golf in Bandung while their wives shop. There are a lot of interesting things in Bandung, that’s why we are keen on promoting Bandung to residents of Singapore.”

Tan is optimistic it will reach an 80 percent occupancy rate for the Bandung-Singapore route, despite the fact that the premium carrier is competing with budget carrier AirAsia.

“Not every passenger cares about the cheap price. There is a market for premium flights,” he said.

The airline offers more space for luggage and services for its passengers. P rices start from $299 for economy class and $739 for business class.

Silk Air also plans to offer passengers travel packages to Bandung in partnership with its sister company, Singapore Airlines, which connects Singapore to major cities in America, Australia and Europe.

“We can accommodate the needs of passengers if they want to continue their travel to Bandung,” Tan said.

Tan said he was confident there was also an untapped market for Bandung’s middle- and upper-income households who were willing to pay more for quality services and the ability to connect with Singapore Airlines flights to major cities around the world.

The maiden flight departed from Singapore at 3:55 p.m. local time and upon arriving in Bandung, the Airbus A319 was greeted with a water cannon salute.

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Bandung hotels

West Java’s Taman Safari Pursues Global Recognition With the Spirit of a Tiger

Drive-thru zoo Taman Safari Indonesia is embarking on a new kind of expedition: to upgrade its facilities and human resources in pursuit of higher-quality conservation and entertainment.

The 165-hectare zoo is aiming to have the best wildlife hospital in Southeast Asia by 2016, and is also working to be reaccredited as a conservation body, a status it lost in 1990.

“Originally we weren’t aiming too high, but at the start of this year we set our goal as becoming the number one wildlife hospital in Indonesia, then in Southeast Asia,” Irawan, a Taman Safari education staff member, said on Monday.

“We decided not to make a half-hearted effort, so we raised our sights and moved our deadline back a little.” Irawan said the safari park, located in the highlands of Cisarua in West Java, perceived zoos in South Korea, Japan and Singapore as its main competition .

He said that to reach their target, the hospital would have to boost their number of doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Taman Safari has been home to a wildlife hospital since 1981. It employs six veterinarians and 12 paramedics to care for the park’s 2,500 animals of 270 species.

Its present facilities include two operating theaters, an X-ray studio, a laboratory, an autopsy room and animal care wards.

Meanwhile, the park is working with the Forestry Ministry to renew its expired conservation accreditation. Irawan said the zoo hoped to complete preparations for accreditation by November.

Taman Safari is also working on an accommodation upgrade for its star tenants: 22 Sumatran Tigers, whose cages were built three decades ago.

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Ubud writers festival records major success

The ANZ-Ubud Writers and Readers Festival officially ended on Sunday evening, having received a record number of visitors.

The five-day long literary festivity ended with a free-of-charge musical performance honoring the 130 invited authors, hundreds of audience members and some 200 volunteers at the spacious Antonio Blanco Renaissance Museum near Sanggingan, Ubud.

Earlier in the evening, the festival launched its bilingual anthology "Nandurin Karang Awak" (Cultivate the Land Within), which features selected works by 17 Indonesian writers invited to the festival. The publication of the anthology of Indonesian writings was one of the core programs of the festival, which sought to promote Indonesian authors on the international stage.

Since 2008, the festival has published four anthologies. The festival's robust Indonesian program and anthology publication was partially funded by the Dutch funding agency Hivos.

"I am very happy because finally we have managed to organize this event and organize it in such a fine way," Mudra Swari Saraswati foundation chairman Ketut Suardana stated.

The foundation is the umbrella organization of the annual festival, which was first started in 2004 and has gradually evolved into the largest international literary gathering in the region.

Early this year, when one of the festival's biggest donors withdrew its support from the event, the festival's committee was concerned that they would not be able to organize the festival. The concern evaporated when ANZ stepped in and most of the festival's ticketed programs were subsequently sold out before the festival even started.

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Indonesia poised to become global home of batik

Batik lovers must not miss this upcoming event - a World Batik Summit to be held at the Jakarta Convention Center, from September 28 to October 2, 2011.

To be organized by the Indonesian Batik Foundation (YBI) in cooperation with the government, the Batik Summit will consist of two main events: the World Batik Exhibition (WBE) and the World Batik Conference (WBC).

The World Batik Summit (WBS) themed "Indonesia: Global Home of Batik" will be officially opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, according to Organizing Committee Chairwoman of the World Batik Exhibition Murniati Widodo in Jakarta on Friday (Sept. 23).

The biennial World Batik Exhibition will have three themes, namely :"Multi-Partnership: Bringing Batik To The World", "Batik`s Contribution to the Creative Economy", and "Batik as a Cultural Heritage: Conservation and Modernization".

"Up to now, 641 people from a number of countries have already registered for participation in the summit. It is double the figure last year," Murniati said, adding that the number of participants might reach over 700.

The WBE is designed to become a promotion forum for batik producers, practitioners, craftsmen, and businessmen.

The organizing committee of the World Batik Summit (WBS) hopes to record Rp22 billion worth of transactions during the five-day event.

"We hope to achieve an increase in the value of transactions compared to two years ago when the figure was Rp18 billion,"

The conference will be highlighted with a cultural night and a fashion show to be participated in by national and international batik designers.

Some master pieces of Indonesian designer Iwan Tirta will also be displayed in the batik exhibition to remember the noted designer who died in July 2010.

A number of photos of foreign heads of state and government who are fond of wearing batik, will be displayed in the exhibition. The works of junior high school students participating in a batik design contest, will also be exhibited.

First Lady Ani Yudhoyono is expected to attend the peak activity of the National Batik Day which will be organized at Pekalongan batik center in Central Java, on October 3, 2011.

Batik is considered Indonesia`s most famous artistic and cultural legacy and has developed a global reputation over centuries.

Since the inclusion of batik by UNESCO in "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" items on September 30, 2009, the government has been actively promoting batik domestically and internationally.

Because batik is now getting popular and on high demand, the government is mulling a master plan for the mass production of batik as a culture-based industry.

The master plan being prepared by the industry ministry, would be ready in the next two months, Industry Minister MS Hidayat said at the presidential office recently.

The value of Indonesia`s batik market reaches only Rp3 trillion currently. And therefore, the batik production must be directed toward mass products if the nation wanted to raise the batik market value, the minister said.

"Once it becomes mass products, the system of our industry will run well. Now, batik products are produced individually by batik industry handicraft centers, which sometimes prioritize sense of art rather than the public taste," he said.

The government will issue an appeal to government and private offices to instruct their employees to wear batik dresses/shirts twice a week at least, in order to support the planned batik mass production.

The government offices and a number of private offices have instructed their employees to wear batik at least once a week, namely on every Friday.

No batik industry in Indonesia has so far made mass productions although prominent batik companies such as Danarhadi and Batik Keris have exported their batik products to several countries in Asia.

Several regions such as Yogyakarta, West Java, Central Java, and East Java will be prepared to support the planned batik mass productions.

According to data of the Indonesian Batik Foundation, the interest of Indonesian people in batik has increased 40 percent since 2009.

"We got the data from the number of new batik producers and the batik consumption throughout Indonesia," Doddy Soepardi, a member of the foundation`s advisory board, said on Friday (Sept 23).

Indonesian batik is competitive and able to maintain its market share because of its high production standards.

"Indonesian batik has a specific character which does not exist in other textiles with batik designs. It has its own philosophy, production process and designs," Indonesian Batik Foundation Chairperson Jultin Ginandjar Kartasasmita said.

Because of its high quality standards , Indonesian batik continues to be in high demand although its prices are higher than similar products from other countries, she said.

"Domestic batik producers must not be worried because the government through the industry ministry has set certain standards for textiles to be called batik, print textile is not genuine batik," she said.

The standards include a ruling that the batik production process should include the use of "canting" or paintings and stamps, or a combination of both. Fully printed textile is not batik, she said.

The price of Indonesian batik is comparatively high because its basic material is cotton that has to be imported.

So far Batik is mostly produced in Pekalongan, Solo (Central Java), Yogyakarta and Cirebon (West Java), but now batik production has developed in at least 23 provinces of Indonesia.

Batik, which has been developed for centuries particularly on Java Island, is cloth which traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. But, thanks to modern advances in the textile industry, the term has been extended to include fabrics which incorporate traditional batik patterns.

UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) describes Indonesian Batik as: The techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik permeate the lives of Indonesians from beginning to end: infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik.

The government has given a legal protection and identity through batik mark called "Batik Indonesia" which has been registered at the legal and human rights ministry`s intellectual property rights directorate general, to get patent rights, according to Industry Minister Hidayat recently.

South Korean retailer Lotte Mart plans to introduce batik products to South Korean consumers.

Managing Director of Lotte Mart South East Asia Moon Young Pyo said that all Lotte Mart employees would be requested to wear batik during the Indonesian batik promotion in South Korea next November.

"So at the same time they will introduce batik," he said on the sidelines of a Business Forum on "Indonesian Product Exhibition for Lotte Mart Korea" held at the trade ministry.

Merchandising Director of Lotte Mart Korea Kim Young Gyoon said he would also wear batik during the promotion in Seoul.

"I like batik because it`s comfortable, and has beautiful colors and designs. I think modern batik will sell well in Korea," Moon Young Pyokata said.

Source: Antara

Bangka Belitung, Natuna named new cruise destinations

Indonesia will open new cruise liner destinations in Bangka Belitung Islands and Natuna following increasing demand from European travelers.

“The enthusiasm of Europeans to go to Bangka Belitung and Natuna is very strong and it shows that Indonesia’s maritime tourism industry is very promising,” Culture and Tourism Ministry marketing director Sadar Pakarti told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Sunday.

The plan came up after Indonesia participated in the three-day Seatrade Europe event, one of the leading events for sea or river cruises in the world, both for public and private operators of ferries and super yachts, held in Hamburg, Germany, on Sept. 27-29.

During the meetings with cruise itinerary designers, hotel managers and representatives of destinations, they said that they wanted Indonesia to open new destinations near Singapore.

Sadar said that the plan was also part of a cruising partnership between Singapore and Indonesia for six to seven-day trip packages.

“Bangka Belitung and Natuna have been put in the cruise itineraries,” he said.

In addition, Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, Tanjung Mas in Central Java and Tanah Ampo and Benoa in Bali, remain on the cruise destination list.

“This plan is going to be discussed further at the Cruise Shipping Asia event in Singapore in November,” Sadar said.

He said that state port operators PT Pelindo I and II were going to take part in the event so they could improve ports under their management in the new destinations.

As of September 2011, there were 178 cruise ship calls with 113,766 passengers coming to Indonesia, while in 2010, that figure stood at 198 calls with 94,228 passengers.

There are as many as 215 calls that have been scheduled for Indonesian ports next year, estimated to bring 137,279 passengers. The 2012 figure is likely to increase.

“We hope that we can expand our market to islands in the eastern part of Indonesia such as Alor, Rote and Larantuka,” he said.

Separately, Wita Tour CEO Rudiana said that it was not only Europeans who loved to go on cruises but also Indonesians.

“At least 600 Indonesians are using Wita Tour to enjoy cruise ship trips every year,” he said.

More than 50 percent of Indonesian cruise enthusiasts were cruising on the Royal Caribbean ships in the US, which cost US$6,000 to $7,000 per person, said Rudiana, who is also vice chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita).

Sadar said that one of the Royal Caribbean International ships, Legend of the Seas, was scheduled to anchor in Benoa on Jan. 16, 2012.

He said that state port operator PT Pelindo III was currently preparing the port to welcome the ship.

Yogyakarta celebrates 255th anniversary in Javanese style

Excitement was palpable across downtown Yogyakarta on Friday as people from all different walks of life took to the streets to celebrate the city's 255th anniversary.

Revelers ranged from city administration officials, teachers and students to cart drivers and parking attendants, all dressed in Javanese attire of batik cloth and kebaya blouses for women and of batik and surjan shirts for men.

"Happy anniversary," a teacher at a private junior high school greeted a colleague while preparing to join a school ceremony to commemorate the anniversary on Friday.

The date of the anniversary, publicly marked for the first time in 2004, was decided upon when the first ruler of Yogyakarta, Sultan Hamengkubuwono I, moved from Ambarketawang Palace to Yogyakarta Palace.

While municipal administration officials marked the anniversary at City Hall, teachers and students attended ceremonies in their respective schools. All were held in Javanese style and language.

"It's really fun to have the ceremony in Javanese. Even the state ideology Pancasila was read out in Javanese," said Salsabila, a seventh grader at SMPN 8 state junior high school after attending a ceremony at the school.

Friday's City Hall ceremony was also attended by 22 participants of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung's school for young politicians in Asia.

They came from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

They were visiting the city to learn more about the successes of the Yogyakarta municipal administration, especially in development planning.

"Yogyakarta is considered the right place to learn more about local development planning. It has set a good example on that," a participant of the school, Megha Sarmah from Singapore, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Also held were a subdistrict festival involving all 45 subdistricts in the municipality, panjat pinang (tree climbing contest) and a mosaic parade held in the afternoon from Alun-Alun Utara Square to City Hall.

The peak of the celebration will be on the night of Oct. 22, with the Jogja Java Carnival, which will present street performances on mobile stages involving all elements of communities and international participants.

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Puri Sunia Resort Ubud

Surrounded by rice paddies, water, coconut groves, Puri Sunia is literally nestled in the midst of natural beauties, just 10 minute away from Ubud, in Kokokan Village where you can find thousand white herons. Puri Sunia is derived from Balinese word 'Puri' and 'Sunia'. Puri mean a house of King and Sunia mean “quiet or peaceful”. Puri Sunia is designed to bkend harmoniously with the nature with dressed slate, tiles, smooth unpainted wood, soft homespun, fabrics, intricate worked copper, fragrant alang-alang grass roofing, natural bamboo, rough cut stone, flowers and foliage.

4 Foreign Tourists Killed in West Java Bus Crash

Four foreign tourists were killed when their bus crashed into a hill in Subang, West Java on Friday.

The bus departed from Bandung and was carrying 13 tourists from the Netherlands, Belgium and India and was en route to Ciater hot spring when its brakes gave way while it was driving downhill.

“The tour bus’ brakes did not function when it was driving downhill and it hit the wall of a hill near a tea plantation,” the traffic unit head of the Subang Police Adj. Comr. Agun Guntor told reporters at the crash scene.

“The driver couldn’t control the vehicle thus it rolled over and hit the left and right sides of the hill until it stopped in an upside down position,” Agun said.

One of the tourists, Rob Ten Ven from the Netherlands, told state-news agency Antara that his wife was killed, but he could not remember what happened because he passed out during the ordeal.

The bus driver, Agung, suffered from head injuries and was taken to the Hasan Sadikin hospital in Bandung along with all other victims.

An investigation is underway.

Bangka-Belitung: Like Something Out of a Movie

The popular 2008 film ‘Laskar Pelangi’ has brought an influx of visitors to Bangka-Belitung province to enjoy the white sand beaches, clear water and other interesting tourist attractions.  

Like many other tourists to the island province of Bangka-Belitung, my urge to visit was sparked by the success of the 2008 film “Laskar Pelangi” (“The Rainbow Troops”), based on the novel by Andrea Hirata, which used the province’s stunning landscapes as its backdrop.

When my friends invited me to join them on a three-day tour of the province, I didn’t hesitate to take them up on their offer. I was thrilled at the thought of being able to see the picturesque locations that I’d seen in the movie: pristine beaches, lush forests and sweeping plains.

As it turned out, the province had even more to offer than that.

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Laskar Pelangi video:

Tabanan Botanical Garden wins tourism award

Eka Karya Botanical Garden in Tabanan, Bali, has won the Cipta Pesona Award 2011, defeating Thousand Islands National Park in northern Jakarta and Goa Gong in Pacitan, East Java.
The award was handed out by the Culture and Tourism Ministry in recognition of natural tourist attractions, cultural tourist attractions and artificial tourist attractions.
The winner will receive an award and stimulus funds worth Rp 25 million (US$2,790).
Meanwhile, the Thousand Islands National Park lost in the category of natural tourist attractions managed by government agencies or local government.
“We don’t feel discouraged,” Thousand Islands National Park chief Sri Andjani said Wednesday as quoted by

Stay clear of Anak Karkatoa volcano

Authorities are warning tourists and fishermen to stay more than a mile (two kilometers) from a smoking Indonesian volcano known as "Child of Krakatoa."
The volcano in the Sunda Strait, 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of the capital, Jakarta, was created by the same tectonic forces that led to the 1883 Krakatoa eruption that killed tens of thousands of people.
Its "child," growing five yards (meters) a year, is now 1,320 feet (400 meters) tall and popular among hikers.
Gede Suantika of the Center for Volcanology says the mountain's alert level was raised to the second-highest level last week after the number of volcanic tremors soared from 200 a day to 7,200.
Suantika said Tuesday that he worries a powerful burst could shoot incandescent rocks down its slopes and far into the ocean.

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Tourism Indonesia Mart and Expo (TIME) 2011 in Lampung

With a target of approximately 150 buyers, TIME 2011 will be working closer with partners, trade associations, publications, and exhibitors to identify leading decision makers in each of key segment of the industry to guarantee the attendance of high quality Buyers.

Universally recognized as the leading travel industry event for Indonesia, TIME 2011 brings you:

  • Experience meeting All of Indonesia Under One Roof
  • Direct contact, rewarding and more networking with worldwide industry Buyers
  • Diversified tourism destination, new products and services Indonesia proud to offer
  • See Indonesian Sellers from the leading company in the industry
  • Comprehensive information on latest travel industry developments
  • Experience the Indonesian warm hospitality through all social function
  • Meet and Greet your international and national travel partners
  • A chance to meet and get response from the world-leading travel publication
  • Very best selection of post tour from Indonesia
  • Close encounters with Lampung, Bandar Lampung

About Lampung
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August Foreign Tourist Arrivals rose by 5.89 per cent

The number of foreign tourist arrivals in August rose by 5.89 per cent to 621,100 people year-on-year, China's news agency Xinhua quoted the Statistic Bureau as announcing here on Monday.

In Bali, the centre of Indonesia's tourist industry, the number of foreign tourist arrivals rose by 3.90 per cent to 243,200 people year-on-year, Djamal, S.E. deputy of distribution of the bureau, told a press conference here.

The cumulative total of foreign holidaymakers as at July, 2011 was 4.96 million people or 7.32 per cent higher than that at the same period in 2010, he said.

Although the recent terrorist strike in Central Java is not considered to have had a significant impact on the country's tourism industry, the gloomy global economy is forecast to possibly hit the country's tourism industry, Tourism Minister Jero Wacik has said.

Indonesia expects 7.7 million foreign tourist arrivals this year after over 7 million foreign tourists coming into the country last year, according to the tourism ministry.

Indonesia's exports are relatively small contributing just 32 per cent of the GDP, but its Asian peers' exports are much higher.

The slowing of their exports to Europe and the United States may harm their economy. Indonesia's economy survived the economic crisis in 2008-2009 by registering 4.5 per cent growth, the third highest after China and India, while other Asian countries suffered from strong contraction.

The government expects US$8.4 billion in tourists' spending this year, up from US$7.6 billion dollar last year.

The Indonesian tourism industry has recovered from the impact of terrorism, and epidemics.

Garuda Banking on Australia's Love for Bali

Garuda Indonesia chief executive Emirsyah Satar thinks traffic on the well-traveled Australia-Bali route should stay popular well into the future, as reported by the Australian Associated Press.

The resort island of Bali is one of the most popular tourist getaways for Australians, with more than 500 flights each month between Australia and Denpasar, according to AAP.

Those numbers are alongside the 1.88 million passengers that traveled between the two countries in the year prior to July, an increase of 25 percent from the previous year.

“We see that the growth will continue,” Emirsyah said during a recent visit to Australia.

National flag carrier Garuda has been trying to compete alongside other low-cost airlines such as Virgin and Air Asia for a piece of the growing market.

“The Australian dollar is getting stronger so therefore going to Bali is much cheaper than probably even going to vacation somewhere in Australia.”

“I see Australians in Bali and I think they feel at home in Bali,” Emirsyah said.

Lombok hopes AirAsia will soon use new international airport

West Nusa Tenggara Governor Zainul Majdi says he hopes Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia will soon fly to Lombok, after officiating the new Lombok International Airport on Saturday.
“I’ve met with one of [AirAsia's] directors and he told me that AirAsia will soon land at BIL [Lombok International Airport], starting in early 2012 but I asked him to start in October, as soon as the airport commenced operations,” Zainul said, as quoted by Antara.
He added that he would continue to try to “persuade” AirAsia to implement its plan to fly to the island sooner, saying this desire was shared by many.
Although Lombok sits just next to Bali, flight fares to and from the island are still quite expensive, with only a few local airlines serving the route. They are Batavia Air, Lion Air, Garuda Indonesia and Merpati Nusantara Airlines.
The replacement of the old Selaparang Airport with the new Lombok International Airport, which is significantly larger than the former, is expected to boost flights to the island as it can handle a higher turnover of bigger aircraft.
Zainul said that the new airport was expected to help boost tourism in the island, which had been enjoying growing popularity among both local and foreign tourists over the years, as well as support trade activities and the sending of West Nusa Tenggara migrant workers overseas.