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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.

Nyepi, the “day of silence”, will be celebrated in Bali on 5 March this year. For 24 hours, from sunset on 4 March until sunset on 5 March, people in Bali are required to stay inside, and avoid all light and noise.

Restaurants and bars are closed, the streets are quiet and there are no flights into or out of Bali airport.
Our Balinese community in Lombok also celebrates Nyepi but, as we’re a multi-cultural island, we keep the lights on and life goes on as normal. Restaurants and bars are open, there’s music and dancing, and all the usual fun in the sun. That’s why so many people from Bali escape to Lombok for Nyepi every year!

One of the most interesting events during Nyepi is the Ogoh Ogoh Parade, when huge fantasy monsters are paraded through the city on the day before Nyepi. See our special feature on page 10 for details.
In Lombok, we celebrate the best of Nyepi with no down time!

We also celebrate more than three years publishing The Lombok Guide with this issue, by increasing our circulation to 3000 copies every two weeks! Such is the demand for our paper in Lombok and Bali that we need to print another 500 copies each issue just to keep up with the numbers of people who want a copy. Our readers have asked and we deliver, with more copies of our popular paper available now at all your favourite places!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on http://www.thelombokguide.com/deadline_publishing.html or visit www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you’ll be enchanted!

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Here in Lombok, the local people have a saying: “You can see Bali in Lombok, but you can’t see Lombok in Bali!”

Lombok has a large community of Balinese Hindus and it’s not unusual to see colourful Hindu ceremonies taking place around the streets of Lombok, just as in Bali.

Such is the case at Nyepi – one of the most important days in the Balinese Hindu calendar and the start of the Hindu New Year. In Bali, Nyepi is observed by a “day of silence” and is celebrated on 5 March this year. In Lombok, this quiet time of no noise, lights, travel or work only takes place in the Hindu communities.
The day before Nyepi is a busy time when temple tools are washed, homes are cleansed and spirits are driven away in preparation for Nyepi.

The Nyepi preparations are most visible to outsiders when Lombok’s Hindu community participate in the “Ogoh-ogoh Parade” – a  fascinating and noisy procession of fantastic monsters that dance and twist their way along the main streets of Lombok’s capital, Mataram.

Ogoh-ogoh is the name given to the giant monsters representing Hindu creatures of the underworld, known in Balinese as buta kala. Ogoh-ogoh are usually based on evil characters or spirits taken from traditional myths and legends, although more modern monsters include effigies of political characters, or symbolic representations of temptations in the modern world.

About one month before Nyepi, the Hindu community starts to plan their Ogoh-ogoh creations. Each Balinese village, even those in Lombok, is run by a “Banjar”, a sort of community council that supports and maintains the temples and village environment; as well as mediating problems in the village, etc.

In preparation for Nyepi, the Banjar collects money, often with smaller communities joining with a bigger one, to create Ogoh-ogoh together. Sometimes these are the creations of artisans brought in from Bali, gifted in monster making and hired to produce amazing monsters. The young people of the village take great delight in competing with other villages to create the most gruesome, terrifying or eye-catching Ogoh-ogoh.

The parade of the Ogoh-ogoh, although a fun and popular event for spectators, is in fact an important ceremony in preparation for Nyepi; representing a type of mass exorcism of evil in order to start the New Year spiritually fresh and clean.

The people of each Banjar work together to create the monsters using bamboo and wire frames, papier-mâché and other materials, and they are often works of art that have taken many days to create. Before the parade, a pemangku (temple priest) holds a ceremony to imbue the buta kala with spirit and power. Some say the monster gets heavier after this ceremony!

The Ogoh-ogoh is then placed on a bamboo frame, so that many people can help to carry it, making wild movements and dancing to bring the monster to life. Groups of people in traditional dress join the parade, taking turns to carry the heavy figures and dancing alongside their Ogoh-ogoh.

Musical groups, gamelan players and dancers in costume often accompany their monster, creating a spectacle of sound and drama. As evil spirits are believed to inhabit crossroads, particular attention is paid to each intersection with the Ogoh-ogoh lurching and dancing wildly in the middle of the road to scare off any other evil spirits lurking there.

The parade travels along Jl Pejanggik, the main street in Mataram, can involve up to a hundred Ogoh-ogoh and attracts thousands of spectators every year.

After the parade, the Tawur Kesanga ceremony is held to neutralise the negative power of buta kala and to create a harmonic relationship between human beings and God, human and human, and human and their environments – ensuring a peaceful start to the Hindu New Year. The monsters are then paraded home to their respective Banjar, where they will often be burned in a ritual symbolising the destruction of evil.

If you would like to see the parade, join the crowds in the afternoon on 4 March (at around 2pm) along the main street of Mataram (near Mataram Mall). The Ogoh-ogoh parade is a fascinating event, full of music, dance and cultural traditions, and spectators are always welcome… take your camera!

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• We stopped in to try out the new Bumbu Café the other night and were not disappointed. The second venue for the popular Senggigi café opened recently on the main street, just south of the Art Markets, and has much more space than the original Bumbu near Happy Café. The extra space makes for a more comfortable dining experience and, being at the “quieter end of town”, there is less hassle from pesky street vendors while you are eating. Tables are spaced apart and the design of the café also encourages fresh air to flow through. The decoration is attractive, with owner Toha’s signature attention to detail, including clean toilets!
The food of course, is just as good as at the original Bumbu – with the emphasis on authentic Thai dishes.

One of my favourites is the Green Papaya Salad, which is a fresh and palate-pleasing dish of finely shredded green papaya mixed with snake beans and tomato slices, topped with crushed peanuts and a tangy Thai dressing. The Bumbu Garden Salad is also a delicious light meal, filled with fresh salad vegetables, slices of black olives and tender chicken pieces, and topped with a very nice home-made herb salad dressing. The prawns in garlic cream sauce are also very good, with four large king prawns and a lovely creamy garlic sauce. Although Bumbu serves an impressive selection of international and local cuisine, by far the most popular choices on the menu are the Thai dishes. Curries are available in red, yellow or green paste and diners can choose from chicken, seafood or beef variations. We highly recommend the Green Chicken Curry… a real taste of Thai, with just the right balance of spicy flavours!

• What now?! Please tell us this isn’t a huge sign across the Senggigi main street for yet more cigarette advertising!

As one reader emailed to us: “Another thing I’d like to mention is the big red iron thing on the street near the Senggigi Jaya supermarket. It’s huge and I fear its going to be a stupid big advertising wall across the street just entering our beloved street café section of Senggigi and it will ruin the whole view. It’s just annoying how there are always decisions taken which are totally counter-productive to any tourism ambition. I think it’s time to have someone involved on the tourism board who understands what he is doing, but I guess it’s hopeless....”

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Dear Editor

I am writing in response to the letter by Chris published in “Your Say”, issue 80. In that letter, Chris said “However, the most important question is the following one: Does Lombok really need to become a famous tourist destination?” and asked, “Should Lombok not stay as it is now, with a majority of traditional farmers and fishermen? Only famous for its handicrafts, pearls, seaweed and salted duck-eggs? And go on with hosting – compared to Bali – just a few tourists? Or concentrate on eco-tourism?”

While I agree with some of the points made in the letter, I feel the answer to whether Lombok needs to develop as a tourism destination is obvious. I can understand how some people, especially those who retire in Lombok, would want the island to stay the same. Most of us who come to live here choose Lombok for the natural beauty and the peaceful environment, and don’t really want to see many westerners come here.

However, I feel this attitude is both selfish and against the interests of the Lombok people.

Firstly, both the locals and the westerners who have invested in Lombok have done so because they recognise the vast potential of the island as a tourism destination. These companies and individuals have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Lombok. They create employment for local people, they train and impart new skills, they contribute to the economy – initially through licences, building permits, and all the bureaucratic fees required to set up business here – and later, by wages for employees, taxes, residency and work permits, and purchasing goods and services from hundreds of local suppliers.

Most of these businesses also make contributions to their local communities, whether it be supporting local schools, community projects or making contributions to their desa. As many of us know, the payments never really stop.

These businesses need Lombok to develop as a tourism destination; not only to justify their investment in the island, but in order to maintain their businesses and to grow, thus creating more employment, more demand for suppliers, and more contributions to the economy.

But more importantly, the people of Lombok need tourism for their future. To suggest that the people should rely on the traditional practices of farming and fishing is to condemn them to a life of poverty, as has been the case in the past.

The NTB region (Lombok and Sumbawa) has a total population of 4 496 855, with 3,166,685 living on Lombok. NTB also has one of the highest rates of poverty in the entire country of Indonesia and, even in the “apparently wealthy” regency of West Lombok, poverty is officially rated at 25%. Based on data from the NTB Central Statistics Agency in 2009, more than 150 000 families in NTB are categorised as living in abject poverty.

Worse, NTB is ranked at number 32 out of 33 Indonesian provinces for illiteracy, with more than 321 000 people over the age of 15 years unable to read or write.

Infant mortality for the region is a tragedy. In 2009, the province recorded 980 cases of children suffering from malnutrition, with 38 of those children dying.

Agriculture, currently listed as the number one source of revenue for the island, is too dependent on climate. Droughts in Lombok were common in the past and have had devastating effects. In 1966, a severe drought killed around 50 000 people on Lombok. The effects of El Nino last year resulted in six sub-regions in Lombok being declared drought areas. Today we can see the effects of this drought in the spiraling food prices, putting even more pressure on Lombok people, some of whom are still earning less than US $1 a day.

Put simply, this island has not been able to survive from agriculture, fishing and other traditional occupations in the past and, with the ever-increasing population, can not survive in the future without a new source of income.

Tourism is currently slated as Lombok’s number 2 revenue earner and the government must put more effort into developing tourism for the future of its people.

In 2010, tax revenue generated from hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues in Senggigi alone was estimated at Rp 55 billion. This is a significant contribution to the economy of the island, even without adding tax revenue other regencies, and from the Gili Islands.

Official figures for 2008 showed a total of 544 501 visitors to the island, with an average stay of 3.4 days and an average expenditure of US $76 per day. This means that in 2008, the tourism industry injected more than US $ 140 million (approx  Rp12.55 trillion) into the NTB economy. Official arrivals for 2009 were 619 370 visitors.

A thriving tourism industry will create employment, lift the standard of skills in the region, attract more investment and pump money into the area. This is turn will lead to a better standard of living for the people, more money for the government to build schools, hospitals, maternity clinics, and necessary infrastructure.
Most importantly, a healthy tourism sector creates the chance for the people themselves to earn money, gain better educations and have money to invest in their children, giving them better lives and hope for the future.

(Name withheld on request)



Kepada Penulis

Saya menulis tanggapan untuk surat dari Chris yang dicetak di kolom “Your Say”, edisi 80. Dalam surat tersebut, Chris mengatakan “Bagaimanapun, pertanyaan yang paling penting adalah sebagai berikut: Apakah Lombok betul-betul perlu untuk menjadi tujuan pariwisata yang terkenal?” dan ia juga menanyakan, “Bukankah Lombok seharusnya tetap seperti yang sekarang ini, dengan mayoritas penduduk petani dan nelayan? Hanya terkenal akan kerajinan tangannya, mutiara, rumput laut dan telur bebek asin? Dan seterusnya – membandingkan dengan Bali – hanya sedikit turis? Atau konsentrasi pada pariwisata lingkungan?”

Walaupun saya setuju dengan beberapa inti dalam surat tersebut, saya merasa jawaban mengenai apakah Lombok perlu dikembangkan sebagai tujuan pariwisata adalah sangat jelas. Saya bisa mengerti bagaimana sejumlah orang, terutama bagi mereka yang pensiun di Lombok, menginginkan pulau ini tetap sama seperti sekarang. Kebanyakan dari kita yang datang untuk tinggal disini memilih Lombok karena kealamian, keindahan dan kedamaian lingkungannya, dan tidak begitu menginginkan terlalu banyak orang asing datang kesini.

Bagaimanapun, saya merasa sikap ini adalah sikap yang egois dan bertentangan dengan keinginan dari orang-orang Lombok.

Pertama-tama, bagi orang lokal dan orang asing yang telah menanamkan modal di Lombok, mereka melakukan ini karena mereka melihat potensial yang sangat besar yang dimiliki Lombok sebagai tujuan pariwisata. Perusahaan-perusahaan maupun pengusaha individu telah menanamkan ratusan ribu dolar di Lombok. Mereka menciptakan lapangan pekerjaan bagi orang lokal, mereka mengajarkan dan berbagi keahlian-keahlian baru, mereka memberikan kontribusi bagi ekonomi – melalui perijinan, ijin bangunan, dan semua biaya birokrasi yang dibutuhkan untuk membangun sebuah usaha disini, dan juga melalui gaji untuk karyawan, pajak-pajak, ijin tinggal, dan pembelian kebutuhan sehari-hari dan jasa dari ratusan pedagang lokal.

Kebanyakan dari perusahaan-perusahaan ini juga memberikan kontribusi kepada masyarakat di sekitar mereka, baik itu dukungan terhadap sekolah-sekolah, proyek masyarakat atau kontribusi ke desa mereka. Sebagaimana yang kebanyakan dari kita ketahui, bantuan-bantuan semacam ini tidak pernah berhenti.
Perusahaan-perusahaan ini membutuhkan Lombok untuk menjadi sebuah tujuan pariwisata; bukannya hanya untuk mingimbangi modal yang telah mereka tanamkan di Lombok, tetapi juga untuk mengelola usaha mereka dan untuk berkembang, sehingga nantinya itu akan menciptakan lebih banyak lapangan kerja, lebih banyak kebutuhan sehari-hari yang harus dipenuhi dengan kerjasama pedagang lokal, dan lebih banyak kontribusi terhadap perekonomian.

Namun yang lebih penting lagi, masyrakat Lombok butuh pariwisata untuk masa depan mereka. Dengan menyarankan bahwa orang lokal seharusnya mengandalkan kehidupan tradisional  seperti bertani dan nelayan adalah sama dengan menyarankan mereka untuk tetap hidup di dalam kemiskinan, seperti yang telah menjadi masalah sejak masa lampau.

Propinsi NTB (Lombok dan Sumbawa) memiliki jumlah populasi sebesar 4 496 855, dengan jumlah 3 166 685 orang tinggal di Lombok. NTB juga memiliki salah satu tingkat kemiskinan tertinggi di Indonesia, dan bahkan di dalam kondisi Lombok Barat yang “dikatakan sehat”, tingkat kemiskinan terhitung sebesar 25%. Berdasarkan data dari Badan Statistik NTB pada tahun 2009, lebih dari 150 000 keluarga di NTB hidup di bawah garis kemiskinan.

Lebih parah lagi, NTB berada pada peringkat 32 dari 33 propinsi di Indonesia, dengan lebih dari 321 000 orang di atas umur 15 tahun tidak dapat membaca dan menulis.

Angka kematian bayi di daerah ini adalah sebuah tragedi. Pada tahun 2009, propinsi mencatat 980 kasus anak-anak kurang gizi, dengan 38 diantaranya meninggal dunia.

Pendek kata, pulau ini tidak bisa bertahan dari penghasilan pertanian, nelayan dan pekerjaan tradisional lainnya ditambah dengan masalah populasi yang terus berkembang, pulau ini tidak bisa bertahan di masa depan tanpa ada sumber penghasilan baru.

Pariwisata sekarang ini dinyatakan sebagai sumber penghasilan Lombok nomor dua dan pemerintah harus serius dalam hal menjalankan pembangunan pariwisata untuk masa depan masyarakatnya.

Pada tahun 2010, penghasilan pajak dari hotel, restoran dan tempat hiburan di Senggigi saja diperkirakan sekitar Rp 55 miliar. Ini adalah jumlah kontribusi yang signifikan kepada perekonomian daerah, walaupun tanpa menambahkan jumlah pajak penghasilan dari kabupaten-kabupaten yang lain, dan dari pulau-pulau Gili.

Laporan tahun 2008 menunjukkan sejumlah 544 501 orang pengunjung datang ke Lombok, dengan lama tinggal rata-rata 3 – 4 hari dan rata-rata pengeluaran sebesar 76  dolar sehari. Ini berarti bahwa di tahun 2008, industri pariwisata menyuntikkan dana lebih dari Rp 12.55 triliun kepada perekenomian NTB. Angka kedatangan pada tahun 2009 adalah 619 370 pengunjung.

Kesuksesan industri pariwisata akan menciptakan lapangan pekerjaan, meningkatkan standar keterampilan orang lokal, memancing lebih banyak lagi penanam modal untuk menanamkan modal di daerah ini. Ini akan merubah standar kehidupan orang lokal kepada standar kehidupan yang lebih baik, lebih banyak uang untuk pemerintah untuk membangun sekolah, rumah sakit, klinik bersalin dan segala infrastruktur yang dibutuhkan.

Lebih penting lagi, sektor pariwisata yang sehat menciptakan kesempatan bagi masyarakat untuk menghasilkan uang lebih banyak, meraih jenjang pendidikan yang lebih baik dan memiliki uang untuk masa depan anak-anak mereka, memberikan mereka kehidupan dan harapan yang lebih baik untuk masa depan.

(nama tidak dicantumkan atas permintaan pengirim)

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Keeping the parties coming – Rahmi, Widi and friends hosted
a fabulous Valentine's Dance Party at Café Alberto

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(Tongue-in-cheek answers to your personal building problems)

QUESTION: My husband and I came to the sunny island of Lombok to escape the winter blues of Europe. We rented a nice private villa with pool in a quiet tropical setting from an equally nice man we met in a bar who said his brother had a friend who knew somebody who knew the owner. After a gruelling 33 hour flight via Jakarta and Abu Dhabi, we gave the nice man some money for the villa rental and just went straight to bed. 
We awoke the next day to a beautiful blue sky and swaying palm trees caressed by a gentle warm breeze. As the day progressed, the temperature rose. It got hotter and hotter.  I thought I was going to melt; I felt hotter than a buttered monkey in a fur coat! There was nothing else to do but jump in the pool to cool off. After half an hour or so, I decided to take a shower. I don’t know about you, but a cold shower can be a bit of a shock to a sensitive European like me, who is used to the creature comforts of home. It definitely got my attention! 

Despite all my attempts twiddling the nozzle, the shower refused to get any warmer, so I had to be satisfied with a shockingly cold shower. I pointed out to the manager of the villa (who came round for the rest of the rent) that the shower wasn’t working properly and he said he would look at it. For the next week, that’s all he must have done because the shower did not get any hotter. 

My husband was also getting fed up with having to suffer a cold shower and he also complained to the manager, who once again assured us that he would look at it. Two weeks later, he was still looking at it. 
By this time, my husband decided to solve the problem himself by borrowing some tools from a neighbour and swapping the faulty water heater for another similar one from the villa next door, which was owned by the same owner. 

Everything was fine until a large, well-fed man with a foreign accent and hardly any hair called round and said he was a friend of the owner and asked who we were. I told him we had rented the villa for a few months and that was that. A few days later, Yul Brunner came back and said he had spoken to the owner, who had no idea who we were and we had no right to be there as the owner had not received any rent or even a booking request. 

“But we’ve paid 5 months rent in advance to the nice man in the bar. His brother’s friend knew the owner,” I protested. “On top of that, we’ve had to fix our own shower. The manager said he would do it but we got tired of waiting.” I said. 

“There is no manager. That’s why I’m here,” said Yul Brunner, whose eyes by now were beginning to bulge worryingly. 

After phone calls back and forth and much negotiation, it was decided that we had been the victims of a scam, but because the owner felt sorry for us and it was probably his previous housekeeper who masterminded it (otherwise we would not have been given the keys) it was agreed that we would pay half rent till the end of our stay, which was another 4 months.  

Our holiday is turning out to be all we had hoped for after all, but I can’t help feeling bad about the whole experience. What did I do wrong?

MR FIXER: Nothing! You were just victims of a system that allows such despicable behaviour. No doubt, the owner’s previous employee had much to do with it. He has probably pulled the same scam many times before, until he got caught. That’s why he’s an ex-employee.

Even if you confronted him, or his brother’s friend, he would just laugh and deny it. Find out who he is and where he lives and then rent his house to a load of Australian backpackers. That should stop ‘em (or at least slow them down a bit)! See how they like it!

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Over the weekend of 29 and 30 January 2011, The Lombok Guide, together with staff from Blue Marlin Dive and the Holiday Resort, participated in an excellent “Emergency First Responder Course” conducted by Blue Marlin Dive Senggigi.

The course was held in the spacious and comfortable meeting room at the Holiday Resort in Mangsit and facilitated by Stuart and Epoel; both EFR Instructors from Blue Marlin Dive Senggigi.

No one likes to think that they will ever be in an emergency situation and many people hesitate to get involved, either through fear of doing the wrong thing or worry about being liable if something goes wrong, but EFR training gives participants the confidence to stay calm and to handle an emergency in the correct way.

Over the weekend, course participants learnt vital skills to enable them to assist in medical emergencies. The practical course covered Primary and Secondary care including BLS (Basic Life Support) CPR and Rescue Breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation), AED (automated external defibrillator) use, Preventing and caring for shock, Spinal injury management, Use of barriers to reduce disease transmission risk, Basic First Aid Care, and Injury Assessment.

Theory such as risk assessment and CPR techniques are first covered in an informative video. Participants then watch the facilitators performing CPR, rescuing breathing and other techniques, before having the chance to practice on the dummy model. Practicing on the dummy, participants realise that, if the correct steps are followed, the techniques are really quite simple and nothing to be afraid of. Being in a group setting and a relaxed environment with good instructors, it’s also a fun way to learn!

Blue Marlin’s EFR instructors are able to deliver the course material in both English and Bahasa Indonesia, so it is easy for everyone to understand. Participants successfully completing the course also receive a certificate from Blue Marlin Dive Senggigi.

While this is a fabulous asset for hotels and businesses, EFR training also gives individuals the skills to assist family members and friends who may be involved in an emergency.

Having done the course ourselves, we can highly recommend the EFR course to others. Stuart at Blue Marlin is happy to tailor-make courses to suit individual businesses, at a time and place that is convenient, and with emphasis on situations applicable to the environment where participants work.

Course fees are not expensive and are economical for groups. It is also possible to join a group, for individuals wanting to update their skills for personal use. EFR training can literally mean the difference between life and death. For more information, contact Stuart by email at senggigi@bluemarlindive.com.

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Positive news for Senggigi, with several articles in local newspapers over the past two weeks reporting that the government is going to crackdown on illegal karaoke bars operating in Senggigi.

The crackdown comes as a result of a survey by the Guides Association of Indonesia (HPI), which concluded that tourists do not like karaoke bars, did not frequent them when on holiday and did not want to stay in hotels located close to a karaoke bar. Moreover, the survey found that tourists would not buy packages that included karaoke as entertainment.

“Karaoke bar” is often used as a euphemism for prostitution parlours in Indonesia. Guests pay to hire private rooms within the building, as well as paying for the services of female “singing partners”. While the practice is illegal, an alarming number of karaoke bars have opened in and around Senggigi over the past few years.

Tourists rarely visit the bars, which mainly attract wealthy businessmen and government officials from the cities; leading many Senggigi people to ask why the bars are not located in the city, rather than in Lombok’s main tourism resort area.

The proliferation of these bars also attracts unsavoury elements to Senggigi. “Singing partners” are often young local girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, or are professional workers brought in from Java by the karaoke bar operators.

Fatwir Uzali, from the HPI Advisory Board, has asked the Government of West Lombok (PemkabLobar) to take the problem seriously and to immediately crackdown on unlicensed karaoke places operating in Senggigi.
He has also called for restrictions on karaoke bar operating hours and recommended clearly defined zones separating hotels and karaoke bars.

“As is known, tourists who visit and stay in the Senggigi area are quite disturbed by the presence of karaoke. Many foreign tourists choose to move the hotel to another hotel or other lodging that is not adjacent to a karaoke bar,” he said. “In addition, foreign tourists often refuse to buy a tour package that smelled of karaoke on offer by tour guides.”

“If it is left unchecked, it is feared that the Senggigi tourism area will be abandoned by tourists, who will switch to other attractions. Of course, it will threaten the success of the Visit Lombok, Sumbawa 2012 promotion,” he told reporters.

As a result of the HPI’s action, the District Head of Government Public Relations (PemkabLobar), L Ispan Junaedi, confirmed that the department had sent letters of reprimand to “some rogue investors who violate the rules”, ie, investors who have opened a karaoke bar without an operating permit.

In related news, a special committee was set up to investigate and legalise the existence of places of entertainment such as karaoke in the city of Mataram. The special committee has introduced an entertainment tax of 40 percent on karaoke bars.

The taxes are not charged to the owner of the karaoke business, but to consumers who use the facility. This was revealed in a special committee meeting with karaoke business owners and the Department of Revenue, Mataram at the local court on 29 January 2011.

Karaoke tax will be remitted to the Department of Revenue by business owners each month, on the basis of admittance tickets sold by karaoke operators. The committee had originally recommended a tax of 50 percent. However, after discussion with karaoke operators, agreed to set the tax at 40 percent.

In the meeting, it was also agreed that the karaoke places have an open room for guests, and not hire out private rooms. The intention is that karaoke be licensed for family entertainment purposes.

According to the committee, entrepreneurs who open a karaoke business must meet these requirements in order to obtain operational permits. To control these entertainment facilities, Committee Chairman, Zahiran, asked the Department of Tourism, the Tax Department and Sat Pol PP Mataram (Community Police) to oversee strict compliance with the operational licenses.

On the surface, this appears to be extremely encouraging news for business operators and residents in Senggigi. It remains to be seen, however, whether the rules will be enforced.

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