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Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's new tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every fortnight and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island. Use the Guide to explore Lombok and check out the best hotels, restaurants and sight-seeing options, to make your Lombok holiday special. Inside you'll find useful maps to make touring easier, important information about Lombok, plus great discount vouchers for restaurants, hotels and other businesses.

It's been a busy two weeks in Lombok since our last issue, with the official launch of “Visit Indonesia Year 2008” and a clean up of the Senggigi beachfront and main street. In other news, Bounty Cruises plan a return to Lombok for Nyepi, so if you are looking for a great place to escape during the Nyepi weekend in Bali, look no further than Lombok!

One of the most exciting stories at the start of a new year is that Lombok's famous volcano, Mt Rinjani, has been nominated as one of the top 3 finalists in the “Tourism for Tomorrow Awards” for 2008. The coveted title, awarded by British Airways, names the best of the world's tourism destinations, chosen from among nominees that deliver consistent results that match the needs of economies, regional authorities and local communities, with those of business. Rinjani has been selected as one of the final three destinations in the running for the award, from a total of 150 applications from over 40 countries. The winner of the “Tourism for Tomorrow Award” will be announced at the World Travel and Tourism Summit to be held in Dubai in April 2008.

Mt Rinjani previously won a National Geographic “World Legacy Award” in 2004. With a world-famous volcano providing spectacular trekking opportunities, the Gili Islands offering exceptional diving, a local Sasak culture that is rich and fascinating, and an environment that is simply stunning in its natural beauty, there are so many reasons to visit Lombok.

Come and discover for yourself the magic of Lombok… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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Bounty Cruises, the big yellow catamaran that used to cruise between Bali and Lombok several times per week prior to the Bali bombings, is operating a special “Nyepi Day” service between Bali and Lombok, with the possibility of resuming services to Lombok in the future.

The deluxe service will cruise from Benoa Harbour on Bali, on 6 March 2008 and remain in Lombok until 8 March. “The Bounty”, as it became known locally, will moor in Senggigi Bay on 6 March. One way and return transfers are available for Lombok and Bali passengers. “Nyepi Packages” are also being offered by Bounty Cruises, the Sheraton Senggigi Resort, Santosa Resort and the Senggigi Beach Hotel; including transfers, accommodation and other special offers.

A special half-day trip aboard the Bounty to Gili Renggit is available from Senggigi on Friday, 7 March. The day trip includes jet ski, donut boat and banana boat rides and snorkelling.

Gili Renggit is a beautiful, undeveloped island off Lombok's southwest coast. At one time the island was called “Bounty Island” and was slated to become a major tourism resort, with a planned hotel and cruise services to be operated by the Bounty Group. Plans were halted with the collapse of tourism in the region as a result of the bombings in Bali, and Bounty Cruise services between Bali and Lombok were suspended indefinitely.

In the evening on 7 March, Bounty offers a special “Dinner and Night Cruise Party” on board the catamaran as she cruises just off the Senggigi coast. Early the next morning, Bounty will cruise back to Bali, but hopefully she'll be back in Lombok waters again soon!

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“Visit Indonesia Year 2008” was officially launched in Lombok at a huge opening ceremony held on the beachfront at the Senggigi Beach Hotel on Saturday, 26 January 2008.

The ceremony was attended by NTB Governor Lalu Serinata and Vice Governor Thamrin Rayes, together with leading representatives from Local Government, tourism and travel industry heads and Lombok Hotel Association members. Also present were around one thousand volunteers from the local community and Senggigi hotels, who participated in the event.

The launch programme included speeches from the Governor officially launching the start of Visit Indonesia Year 2008 and committing the local government's support for the development of Senggigi as a major tourism destination. The official declaration was read at the ceremony, and a framed copy of the “Senggigi Declaration” was received by Sheraton Senggigi Resort General Manager, Pak Masri, on behalf of the Lombok Hotels Association.

The “Senggigi Declaration”, signed by Lombok Sumbawa Tourism Promotion Board, ASITA, The Lombok Hotels Association and Local Government agencies, can be translated as:

1. We, the society and people responsible for Lombok Sumbawa tourism will, together with Local Government, develop West Nusa Tenggara tourism, which is safe, orderly, clean, peaceful, comfortable, friendly and memorable.

2. We, the society and people responsible for Lombok Sumbawa tourism intend to make West Nusa Tenggara a “destination” and an "icon" of world tourism.

3. We, the society and people responsible for Lombok Sumbawa tourism, together with Local Government and supported in full by DPRD Province, Sub-Province and Cities of West Nusa Tenggara, are ready to make tourism the driving force for a stable and ongoing regional economy.

The opening ceremony was followed by a clean up of the Senggigi beachfront, from the Senggigi Beach Hotel to the Sheraton Senggigi Resort. Around a thousand volunteers hoisted garbage bags, rakes and sapu lidi (traditional brooms) and spread out along the beachfront, collecting rubbish from the sand. Hotel managers and tourism industry leaders joked alongside staff, hotel guests, local community members and children from Nusa Alam School, as they worked together in cleaning up the beach. It was a great occasion to strengthen the cooperation between local government and the Lombok tourism industry.

While the beachfront clean up was going on, perhaps the most important outcome of the day was taking place on the main street of Senggigi. For years, local hotels and restaurants had been battling with the problem of the many street sellers who had set up stalls and small kiosks along the sides of the main street. Tourism industry representatives have had to deal with repeated criticism over the years from visiting tourist agencies about the dirty and unkempt image of the Senggigi main street, created by these make-shift stalls and kaki lima (local food carts).

Over the years, this unofficial trading has boomed and, what was once a minor problem, had become an over-growth; spreading out along the street from before Marina Café, in the south, to the hill above the Sheraton Resort, in the north. Not only did the stalls create a visual eye-sore for visitors to Senggigi, the lack of hygiene and responsible rubbish disposal by stall operators had created problems with rubbish filling the street-side drains; as well as attracting pests and scavenging dogs. In some areas, access along the sidewalks was blocked by the street traders, whose stalls encroached to the edge of the road, forcing pedestrians onto the street.

Thanks to coordination by local government, the tourism industry and the village heads in Senggigi and Batu Layar, the problem was finally addressed as part of the “Visit Indonesia Year” launch. Street traders were given advance notice to remove their stalls prior to 26 January, or risk having them demolished. Under the new government rules, traders will be allowed to sell from wheeled carts, such as kaki lima, which must be removed at the end of each day's trading. No more “semi permanent” structures will be allowed on public land, such as the roadside.

Throughout the day, the stalls and kiosks were dismantled and prepared for removal, with a minimum of fuss. What could be salvaged was carted away by the traders, while others chose to burn the rubble left over after dismantling their stalls. Many of the stalls were constructed of old corrugated iron, pieces of wood and woven bamboo sheets.

Although the street-sides still need to be cleaned up, particularly the broken bamboo fencing that was behind many of the stalls, the street is already much more visually appealing. The view from the top of “Sheraton Hill” is once again clean and uncluttered, affording a stunning panorama of Senggigi Beach below.

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Widi, the talented designer and entrepreneur from Ciokolata Boutique in Senggigi, recently visited Laos and took

The Lombok Guide with her to show to the locals over there.

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