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NEWS

ISSUE 36

TAKING LOMBOK TO THE WORLD

GOVERNMENT TO PERMIT GOLD MINE IN SEKOTONG

VP: LOMBOK AIRPORT COMPLETE BY OCTOBER

UNWTO PREDICTS INDONESIAN TOURISM STABLE

WHAT'S HOT!

GARUDA BALI AND LOMBOK FLIGHTS DAILY

LOCAL SCENE

BALI HALTS NEW TOURISM CONSTRUCTION

SBY'S PARTY IN THE LEAD

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TAKING LOMBOK TO THE WORLD

Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

The past two weeks have been a busy time in Lombok, with hundreds of holiday-makers flocking to the island during the public holidays for Nyepi. With Easter following closely behind, many hotels are reporting high occupancy levels and the Gili islands, particularly Gili Trawangan, have been extremely busy.

Here at The Lombok Guide office, we are busy too, as we prepare to publish this year's international full colour magazine version of our Guide. Following the success of The Lombok Guide 2008 Magazine, this year's publication promises to be bigger and better than ever, with 80 colour pages of information and advertising for Lombok and Sumbawa islands.

5000 copies of the Lombok & Sumbawa Guide 2009 Magazine will be distributed to travel agents and tour companies throughout the world, including major countries in Europe, every capital city in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Korea and more. We're spreading the message about our beautiful islands to the four corners of the world!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Guide from the locations listed on page 36 or visit us at www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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GOVERNMENT TO PERMIT GOLD MINE IN SEKOTONG

As reported in The Lombok Guide several times previously, a small local gold rush has been taking place on Lombok's southwest coast for over a year now.

In January this year we reported that 6 locals were killed and another 8 were injured in a landslide while unofficially mining for gold on Mt Montor, in central Sekotong on Lombok's southwest coast, where gold deposits have been discovered and where much of the local community have been involved in prospecting for gold over the past year.

Now, with unofficial mining continuing and more people flooding into the area in pursuit of the gold, the local government is being forced to re-examine Lombok's zoning laws. Although Lombok is closed for the exploitation of “Type B” mining, which includes gold, it seems likely that the regional Governmental of West Lombok will allow re-zoning in the Sekotong area (which is currently zoned for special tourism development), to allow the area to be re-opened for gold mining.

Applicable land in the Sekotong area will be divided into two zones, with one zone allowing for community mining and another zone permitted for mining under the management of professional mining companies using approved equipment and technology.

The Vice Regent of West Lombok told journalists at a press conference at the Governor's office on Tuesday, 7 April that an area of around 9000 hectares will be allocated for community mining and another 7000 hectares allocated for professional mining operations.

In the past, some parts of Lombok were permitted to be mined and PT Newmont NT, which operates a gold and copper mine in West Sumbawa, originally held the permits for mining in the area of Selodong, but rescinded the licenses after assessing the project as unviable. However, enough gold deposits exist in the area to encourage unofficial mining, which has been taking place in the region by local residents and people from other islands who have heard of the gold finds.

By legalising the mining operations, the government estimates that around 25% of the local community, or 125 000 local residents, will be involved in the mining of gold, with a viable time-span of around 30 years,
The mining licenses will not only give employment opportunities to people in the poor farming areas, but will also boost the West Lombok economy. Unlicensed mining in the past has yielded an estimated turnover of around Rp 16 billion in unofficial earnings.

Under regional NTB planning laws, which encompass Lombok and Sumbawa, Lombok is excluded from mining operations, with permits only being issued to neighbouring island, Sumbawa. Under the local laws, Lombok is officially slated for tourism development.

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VP: LOMBOK AIRPORT COMPLETE BY OCTOBER

The construction of the Lombok International Airport, West Nusa Tenggara, is scheduled to be completed by October this year, officials said after a meeting at the end of March.

In a coordinating meeting between Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Transportation Minister Jusman Syafeii Djamal and State Enterprises Minister Sofyan Djalil in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, Kalla stressed the urgency of completing the project in order to support a Dubai Emaar Properties investment proposed for the island.

The airport, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2009 and set for operation in 2010, has cost more than Rp 800 billion. Kompas.com reported that nearly 70 percent of the construction on the runway was complete, while about 65 percent of work on the passenger terminal and parking area was still to be finished.

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UNWTO PREDICTS INDONESIAN TOURISM STABLE

As reported by BeritaBali.com, the United Nation's World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is predicting world travel to decrease between 0 and 2% as the result of the current global financial crisis. Total tourism visits world-wide in 2008 were estimated at 920 million.

Speaking at an UNWTO conference in Nusa Dua on Wednesday, 1 April, 2009, the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, said that generally all world tourism destinations will experience downturns in arrival numbers during the current crisis.

However, Taleb Rifai said he felt Indonesia will experience some growth in its tourism industry, despite the financial crisis.

At the conference, Mr Rifai said, “Indonesia will go through this better. I can confirm this is realistic. The entire world will see a fall in its tourism visitors, but not so with Indonesia.”

Based on data from the International Labour Organization (ILO), some 14 million people have lost their jobs since the start of the economic crisis in late 2008. The ILO estimates that 38 million workers will lose their jobs before the end of the financial crisis estimated to occur in 2010.

Meanwhile, the National News Agency, Antara, reports that total foreign tourists arrivals to Bali in February totalled 139,282. While these are preliminary figures, these numbers, if correct, indicate:

· Over time, foreign tourist arrivals may be softening somewhat.
· February 2009 arrivals at 139,282 are -10.23% behind arrivals for the same month in 2008 (155,153).
· Building on January 2009's record performance (164,643), the cumulative arrivals for January-February 2009 (303,925) are still the strongest start to any year in the history of Bali tourism and a 3.01% improvement over the same two-month period one year before.

January-February in 2008 totalled 295,025 arrivals.

Most observers expect foreign tourist arrivals to continue on a downward trend as the current year progresses with many hotels reporting relatively quiet business trends during the month of March.

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In search of the perfect Long Island Iced Tea… The best I've ever tasted in Lombok are at Bulan Baru Hotel, where bartender, Alwan, manages to blend all the ingredients at just the right proportions to create the perfect brew! Not bad, either, are the LIIT's at Qunci Pool Villas and, with two for the price of one during their 4-7pm Happy Hour every day, who could complain?! Lying back on comfy cushions with a delicious cocktail, Buddha Bar tunes playing discreetly, looking out at the sublime sunsets across the reflecting pool is a perfect way to end the day!

We're loving Rambo Pet Store on the main street in Senggigi, opposite Happy Café! It's so good to have a pet store in Senggigi, rather than having to traipse into the city for our pet supplies. Rambo have a great selection of dog and cat foods, plus pet care products such as organic shampoos, coat conditioners and things to make your pet smell nice, as well as modern medicines and treatments that are common in the west, but usually hard to find in Lombok. And, of course, don't forget the toys and accessories… essential treats for the pampered pet!

Ko ko mo Resort has just opened their Fine Dining Restaurant on Gili Trawangan to rave reviews! The much-anticipated opening of the restaurant took place on Good Friday, 10 April, and tables have been full ever since. The distinctive menu, designed by Sydney restaurateur Matthew Blundell, features rarities such as Moroccan Lamb with Couscous, Sugar-cured Salmon, Freshly Shucked Oysters, Seafood Boudin Blanc and more. Naturally with this wine-lover at the helm, the wine list is outstanding with a selection of premium international wines, including fine Australian reds, together with selected champagnes and dessert wines. The restaurant offers absolute beachfront dining; romantic tables and elegant tableware complete the fine dining picture. If the first week of business is anything to judge by, ko ko mo Resort is taking dining on Gili T to a whole new level!

While still on Gili T, we have to say the Lumbung Seaside Rooms at Ombak Villas and Cottages are truly lovely! The resort is located next to Hotel Vila Ombak and shares the same management, while providing a private and charming space alongside that popular resort. While the Lumbung Beach Cottages are located at the front of the property, directly on the beach, the Seaside Rooms are set further back in pretty gardens with a private swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Rooms are spacious and feature stunning local “lumbung” architecture, with high curved ceilings and traditional touches. Large private balconies with sun lounges give fabulous views out over the beach to Lombok across the ocean. Highly recommended!

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GARUDA BALI AND LOMBOK FLIGHTS DAILY

Garuda Indonesia resumed daily flights between Bali and Lombok on 1 April 2009.

The flights, which operate in the evening between the two islands, are planned to allow international travellers to connect with late evening flights out of Bali. Timing of the flights also allows international travellers arriving into Bali on afternoon flights to transfer directly to Lombok without having to stay overnight in Bali, as in the past.

At the official Garuda launch of the new service on 1 April, Garuda NTB General Manager Fredrik Kasiepo said the airline was committed to developing tourism in Lombok by making flights available that fulfil the market needs of clients. As flights to Lombok are often fully booked, large capacity aircraft are needed to meet the demand.

For the inaugural flight, the company flew a number of travel agents and journalists from Bali and Java to Lombok to promote the new service. Guests were welcomed with a traditional ceremony at the airport and afterwards stayed in Lombok for several days, enjoying tours and inspecting hotels on the island to familiarise them with the destination.

Flying Boeing 737-500 aircraft with 12 business class and 84 economy seats, the Garuda daily flight (GA436) will depart Bali at 1915 hours (7.15pm) arriving in nearby Lombok around 15 minutes later. The return schedule (GA437) will leave Lombok at 1950 hours (7.50pm), allowing international travellers to connect with flights out of Bali, particularly late night flights to Australia.

The large 737 aircraft provide a fast and comfortable option and will alleviate some travellers' fear of the small planes that normally fly the Bali-Lombok route. At the launch, Pak Fredrik also announced that Garuda will immediately upgrade the flights by using a 737-300 aircraft with 16 business and 94 economy class seats for the route.

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LOCAL SCENE

STAMMTISCH @ ASMARA RESTAURANT

Good live music, good food and drinks and good company make the “open table” at Asmara every Friday a good night out!

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BALI HALTS NEW TOURISM CONSTRUCTION

Kompas reports that following criticism and input from a number of sources insisting Bali's environment is under severe threat, the Provincial Government of Bali has decided to refuse new permits for hotels, home-stays and new commercial villas in all regencies and cities on the island with effect from Wednesday, 8 April, 2009.

The Head of the Development Planning Agency (Bappenda), Nengah Suarca, has announced the major change in policy, saying, “This moratorium is not yet a part of a provincial law or a Governor's decree. The plan is that the moratorium will remain in place without a time limit. However, hotel developments holding permits issued before 2009 will be permitted to continue.”

Suarca told the press that his office would no longer tolerate the building of hotels and other commercial accommodation by investors or candidate investors. He said, “This is an important and priority factor to the future of Bali's development, both in the current year's plan and in the long term. When this (moratorium) will be lifted, I can't promise because of the desire that no more (hotels) be built.”

He went on to explain that in addition to ecological considerations, the over-supply of hotel and other accommodation renders requests for new projects on an island as small as Bali non-relevant. Current data supplied by the Bappenda Bali estimates that the number of hotels and legal and illegal villas is around 50,000 rooms when the ideal total is believed to be 25,000.

At a public meeting to discuss development for 2010, Bali decided to make preserving its environment as a chief priority after the relief of poverty, improving social welfare and education. In the past, environmental concerns received a low priority among development concerns.

In response to the moratorium, the Secretary of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Perry Markus, said that his organisation would not take issue with the decision. At the same time, he said he hoped the government would make the regulations and law on the issue firm and clear.

Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) records around 145 hotels operating in Bali with 80% of that total in the Badung regency.

At the same time, Bali's Tourism Authority estimates that there are hundreds of illegal commercial villas operating on the island.

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SBY'S PARTY IN THE LEAD

As of 12 April, 2009, the Indonesian Vote Tabulation Center has recorded a total of 1.49 million votes counted in the recent national elections, with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party taking the lead.
The following is the list of the top 10 political parties with the most votes:
1. Democratic Party: 304,258 votes (20.35%)
2. Golkar Party: 216,602 (14.49%)
3. Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P): 216,010 (14.45%)
4. Prosperous Justice Party (PKS): 126,435 (8.45%)
5. National Mandate Party (PAN): 97,762 (6.54%)
6. National Awakening Party (PKB): 80,838 (5.41%)
7. United Development Party (PPP): 80,362 (5.38%)
8. Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra): 68,062 (4.55%)
9. People's Conscience Party (Hanura): 52,497 (3.51%)
10. Crescent Star Party (PBB): 24,420 (1.63%)

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AUSTRALIAN TRAVEL WARNING: BOOK EARLY

Balidiscovery.com reports that, bucking the current worldwide downturn in travel, Australians continue to flock to Bali seeking value for money. Australian travellers to Bali during the first two months of 2009 totalled 48,068 a 34.64% increase over totals for the same period in 2008 (35,701).

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, overseas travel by Australians has shrunk by 2% since August 2008. Indonesia and Bali, however, have bucked this downward trend with travel booming despite unfavourable travel warnings issued from Department of Foreign Affairs.

Underlining the migration of travellers to a destination identified as “value for money”, Australian holidaymakers coming to Indonesia have overtaken figures for those travelling to the USA, Britain and Thailand. Indonesia has become the 2nd most popular holiday destination after New Zealand for Australians travelling abroad.

Quoted in The Age, the Australian marketing coordinator for Garuda Indonesia explained the surge in Bali travel by commenting, “It's because it's affordable. . . many people who might have gone further afield will go to Bali instead”.

The Age article also underlined how Garuda is adding flights between Australia and Bali while airlines are curtailing service in other areas of the world. That article also reports that bookstores have run out of travel guides to Indonesia, “even though the Government warns us to reconsider your need to travel there”.

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