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Tourists flood favorite spots in Bali
June 24th, 2009

Hundreds of local visitors were spending their holidays in Kertalangu art village near Sanur resort as school holidays started last weekend.

The island of Bali has been a popular holiday site for school students and their families living in the Java and Lombok islands.

It would be a lucrative month for owners of small-scale to starred hotels on the island, which is now also hosting foreign visitors during their summer holidays.

A group of school students from Surabaya were seen playing with canoes and small boats in Sanur beach.

“We have been here since dawn to witness the beautiful sunrise in Sanur beach,” exclaimed Devianti, a student from Surabaya.

Sanur is famous for its quieter holiday spots with pristine beaches like Sindu beach, Semawang beach, Sunrise beach and Padang Galak beach. Unlike Kuta resort area, which is filled with glamorous star hotels, night clubs, cafes and other entertainment centers, Sanur offers more cultured-based activities. It is home to many art museums and galleries.

Wayan Dayung, beach guard coordinator at Sanur beach, said during school holidays, he had to work hard to monitor water activities.

“We have limited numbers of guards to monitor students and visitors spending holidays here.”

He said many children and adults could not swim well, while sometimes there were currents under the water that might endanger visitors.

In addition to Sanur, local visitors would go to other interesting places like Garuda Wisnu Kencana cultural park in Jimbaran, Bedugul resort in Tabanan regency and Kintamani resort in Bangli.

Nyoman Punia said school holidays have always brought fortune to local shop owners, travel businesses, souvenir sellers and even parking attendants.

“I just collect Rp 200,000 per day. But during holidays, I can get as much as Rp 1 million a day. What a blessing.”

At Kertalangu art village, dozens of children, mostly city children, looked happy and enthusiastic when they were asked to plant seeds on a plot of rice field located within the village’s complex, some 5 kilometers from Denpasar.

The village was designed to maintain “rural flavor” amid the busy city of Denpasar. The complex comprises hectares of paddy fields, jogging tracks, horse riding and other sports and leisure facilities.

It is also equipped with handicraft workshops, restaurants and fishing ponds.

Wayan Toha Putra, a staff member at the village’s management, said Kertalangu provides outdoor activities for children and teenagers.

“They can learn to plant paddy seeds or go fishing.”

They can also fly kites and ride horses. For art lovers, local artisans were ready to assist them.

“There are ceramic classes or painting workshops,” he said.

Anita, from Bandung, West Java, said she had never thought of visiting such a place in Denpasar.

JK promises larger airport in Bali
June 23rd, 2009

Niken Prathivi ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jimbaran   |  Mon, 06/22/2009 11:22 AM  |  The Archipelago

Incumbent vice president Jusuf Kalla, who is running for president in the upcoming election, promised the island a larger airport to support its potential tourism sector, during his campaign Saturday evening.

“*Should I get elected* I would hasten the reconstruction of Bali’s *Ngurah Rai* airport into a larger one, so we could have the second-largest international airport *after Soekarno-Hatta airport*,” Kalla said to his potential Balinese voters at Jimbaran village, southern Kuta, Badung regency.

Kalla said Indonesia must take good care of Bali.

“The existence of Bali as a favorite tourist destination is important. We don’t need to go to Thailand, for example, to enjoy beautiful scenery as we already have it here.”

To help maintain the island’s beauty and cultural attraction for potential visitors, Kalla asked the Balinese to continue their serious effort in sustaining the island’s safety and security.

“I think the people of Bali have managed well in maintaining the island’s security, especially after the Bali bombing incidents.”

He further reminded the voters he had once assisted the island in recovering from the bombings’ impact by telling the ministers to issue a policy on joint leave, which extended the length of official holidays and is believed to be the main factor behind the surge of domestic visitors.

“We had a joint leave last year that was definitely aimed to improve Bali’s economic pulse. The plan worked, and people had more time to flock out of the city, for example to this island, to enjoy several days off with their families.”

Kalla also mentioned his contribution in providing security devices for the Bali Police and ambulances.

“We supported the island by providing the Bali Police with some CCTV cameras,” he said, citing 18 existing security cameras installed around Denpasar, and another 15 units to be installed.

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Bali needs to revitalize agricultural sector
May 30th, 2009

Rapid development of tourism and property projects threatens the existence of traditional villages and the centuries-old subak agricultural system the two strong pillars of Balinese society, a professor at Udayana University said.

Wayan Windia, a professor of agriculture, expressed his concern over the diminishing roles of subak, a traditional organization of local farmers responsible for the management of rice fields, irrigation and social and religious activities.

The growing need for tourist accommodation and supporting facilities has reduced the island’s rice paddies and plantations.

Currently, there are 1,599 subak organizations in Bali, although only 20 percent of them are still active.

Many farmers have been forced to give up their land for economic reasons. Many of them have found that agricultural activities no longer support their livelihood. Every year, Bali sees 800 hectares of productive land transformed into hotels, villas and supporting infrastructure.

The present agricultural system promoted by the central and provincial governments has diminished the bargaining power of local farmers.

By adopting the subak system, farmers received multiple benefits, the professor said. Subak not only regulates the distribution of water and seeds to its members, but gives farmers strong bargaining power to distribute their harvests and determine the price of their products.

Farmers would not have to worry about the absence of fertilizers or seeds because all members would be responsible for procuring them.

“All problems faced by farmers could be solved and discussed by members of the subak organization,” Windia said.

“Now, they have to go to the agricultural agency or the public works agency, which are usually slow to respond to farmers’ needs.”

The function of the subak system was halted by the local administration in the early l980s.

The local administration has provided Rp 20 million (US$2,000) per year to support every subak organization, but this has not prevented farmers from selling their land.

“The price of fertilizers and seeds were very high, while harvest yields were sold at very low prices,” Windia said.

“It was not fair for the government to ask farmers to keep their rice fields when they were too expensive to maintain,” Windia said.

Nyoman Budiana, another agricultural expert, said most farmers now faced water shortages and reduced farming land.

“They cannot produce the same amount of harvest because they work on very small plots of land,” Budiana said.

Most fertile rice field areas in Badung and Gianyar regencies are now surrounded by buildings that cut off water distribution.

Nyoman Suwirya Patra, head of the Bali Investment Coordinating Board suggested that local administrations invite more investors to work in the agricultural sector.

“Bali has a huge agricultural potential that has not been tapped and managed properly,” Patra said.

The island produces high quality cacao, salak (snakefruit), seaweed and many other commodities.

Investment plans in Bali are dominated by the property, tourism, textile and garment sectors. There was a total Rp 53 billion of approved investment in Bali in the first quarter of 2009.

To attract more investors to the agricultural sector, the office is now launching a promotional campaign, including a website containing information about the various agricultural potentialof Bali.

The provincial administration has spent Rp 320 million on the campaign.

I Wayan Ramantha, dean of the School of Economics at Udayana University supported the efforts, saying the campaign would enhance the island’s agriculture.

“We have to focus on investment in agricultural technology to properly develop this sector. Investment in tourism-related sectors has already matured,” Ramantha said.

“A wide gap between the tourism and agricultural sector could create both economic and social problems.”

Ramantha also urged local administrations to seriously shift their development preferences from tourism toward the agricultural sector.

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Indonesian Muslim clerics frown at Facebook
May 24th, 2009

SURABAYA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesian Islamic clerics warned Muslims on Friday not to use popular Internet networking sites like Facebook for flirting or gossiping.

A non-binding resolution issued after a meeting of hundreds of Islamic scholars from Java and Bali islands warns that using sites like Facebook can lead to pornography and “obscenity.”

“We forbid the use of Facebook, Friendster and other social networking sites unless they are being used to foster Islamic teaching,” a spokesman for the clerics, Abdul Muid Shohib, said.

“So spreading ill words about others, gossiping and other things that go against religious teaching on social networking sites in the virtual world are forbidden according to Islamic law.”

Facebook is hugely popular in the world’s most populous Muslim country, and while rulings from Islamic clerics are influential they are rarely followed to the letter.

Indonesia ranks fifth behind the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and France in terms of Facebook use, according to Internet tracking website Alexa.com.

This is despite its crumbling or, in many areas, non-existent digital infrastructure, and the fact that the majority of the country’s 234 million people have little or no access to computers.

Shohib acknowledged that the networking site, where people can set up their own profile pages and share comments and pictures with their friends, was also popular among students and imams at Indonesia’s conservative Islamic schools.

“We realise that the virtual world is hard to control,” he said.

“There are many senior imams who worry because pornographic images often pop out while they interact through Facebook,” he added.

The clerics will monitor the use of such websites and will urge the government to close them down if they became a threat to Islamic teachings, he said.

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Budget airline to offer Bali service
May 22nd, 2009

AN INTERNATIONAL budget carrier is set to fly to the Territory.

Indonesia AirAsia – an offshoot of Asia’s biggest low-cost airline AirAsia – has said it will serve the regular flights between Bali and Darwin abandoned by Garuda Indonesia last month.

The new service will open up the door for cut-price travel for Territorians to Kuala Lumpur, and from there to the UK, Middle East, India and China.

IAA chief executive Dharmadi said his company would begin a thrice-weekly flight service between Denpasar and Darwin before the end of the year and the flights would be serviced by an Airbus A320 aircraft.

“The potential of the Darwin-Bali route is less than rewarding, but we are convinced a market can be created,” he said.

The Malaysian-based long-haul flier first extended its services to Australia in 2007.

But Darwin was left off the destination list.

The new move to fly to the Top End comes after Garuda Indonesia scrapped its Darwin to Denpasar flights after nearly 30 years of flying to the NT – and just months after Territory-based airline Airnorth also stopped flying the route on January 31.

Both said they pulled out because of a decreasing number of passengers.

Australian budget airline Jetstar is the only company now offering the service.

Mr Dharmadi said IAA received an invitation from the Indonesian Department of Transportation to replace Garuda’s old traffic rights.

He said the IAA already held an Australian operational certificate and met the requirements of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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Shenzhen Airlines Launches Guangzhou-Bali Route
May 11th, 2009

The first direct flight from Guangzhou to Bali has been launched by Shenzhen Airlines.

The flight is scheduled to take off from Guangzhou every Tuesday and Friday at 20:00, and to return from Bali each Wednesday and Saturday at 1:50.

Before this, it took more than 12 hours to fly from Guangzhou to Bali with a transfer at Jakarta. Now it only takes five hours to get to the Island of the Gods. As a result, Chinese travel agencies are now promoting new tour packages with prices 20%-30% lower than before.

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AirAsia Indonesia to service Bali-Perth
May 8th, 2009

LOW-COST carrier AirAsia Bhd will start operating daily flights between Perth in Australia and Bali in Indonesia through affiliate AirAsia Indonesia.

Seats for the route are now available, starting from A$139 (RM361) for one-way travel.

The promotion booking is from May 5 to 10 for travel between July 17 this year and January 31 next year.

AirAsia will use the A320. The Bali-Perth route is the fifth international service from its Bali hub, besides Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Bangkok and Singapore.

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