Bali’s Badung District Gets Ready to Host IMF-World Bank Meeting

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Nusa Dua, Bali. Badung district in Bali is gearing up to host the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 on Oct. 8-14, and has been speeding up development of infrastructure and amenities in the popular tourist area.

The Island of the Gods’ most popular destinations, including busy Kuta Beach, Uluwatu, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua, are located in Badung. Besides being home to 75 percent of Bali’s hotel rooms, Badung is also the center of “MICE [meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions] tourism” on the island.

Badung Tourism Office head I Made Badra told journalists at Bali & Beyond Travel Fair (BBTF), taking place at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center (BNDCC), on Thursday (28/06) the IMF-World Bank Annual Meeting will involve 15,000 delegates from 189 countries and around 42,000 of their staff.

A total of 89 meeting venues at the BNDCC, Bali International Convention Center (BICC) and Laguna Resort will host as many as 1200 meetings during the busy week. There will also be 55 business centers ready to take care of the delegates’ administrative needs.

So far 4600 hotel rooms in Nusa Dua have already been booked for the conference delegates.

A 9000-strong security force made up of police and military officers and pecalang (Bali’s traditional security guards) will be on standby during the conference.

The Badung administration has already upgraded street lighting in the area and will install surveillance cameras at 986 spots in the district to improve security even more.

Free wi-fi will be available throughout the district by October, before the conference starts. As reported by Antara, by June 2016 Kuta already had 115 free-wifi spots.

Improving Access

Badung will soon also take delivery of 250 21-seat buses to transport conference delegates to their meetings.

Badra said to ensure a smooth traffic flow in Badung during the conference, and in line with the district’s ambition to become a “smart city,” traffic in the area will be organized and controlled from an integrated high-tech command center.

“We have two [internet] providers in the command center. If one provider gets hacked, the other will step in and back up,” Badra said.

Bali’s biggest airport, the I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, is also located in Badung.

An underpass – 712 meters long, 17 meters wide and 5.2 meters high – is currently being constructed to reduce congestion to and from the airport. The project is expected to wrap up in August.

Badung is also trying to have a large-scale statue of the mythical garuda bird – the national symbol of Indonesia – at its Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) cultural park to be finished before October.

Designed by sculptor I Nyoman Nuarta, the statue is expected to be inaugurated by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Aug. 8.

“Later on we will have an 11-floor MICE venue there,” Badra said.

 

(Jakarta Globe)

Bali & Beyond Travel Fair Set to Go Bigger Next Year

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Nusa Dua, Bali/Jakarta. Bali & Beyond Travel Fair 2018 wrapped up with participants said the fair was a great success and it was announced it will return for its sixth edition next year on June 25-29.

The event concluded at Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center on Friday (29/06)..

Organized by the Bali chapter of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita), BBTF was attended by 320 buyers from 41 countries and 241 sellers from 6 countries.

Rob Haynes, director of the United Kingdom’s Red Tree Representation, said during a press conference that feedback from the buyers he represented at BBTF showed they were impressed by the quality of the sellers at the fair as well as the variety of the promoted destinations.

“You can see existing destinations in Bali but also learn more about other parts of Indonesia,” he said.

Haynes said about half of the tour operators were keen on famous destinations, particularly in South Bali, and the rest were more open to explore other parts of Bali and Indonesia.

“Some tour operators are focused on volume, so they tend to concentrate on destinations that are easy to sell. Then you have tour operators who are more specialists and they’re looking for different experiences. It could be an exotic homestay, a trip to the Komodo Island, or the Gili Islands, or it could be a little cruise,” Haynes told reporters.

The travel fair went well despite the scare from Mount Agung’s eruption early on Friday, which caused Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport to be closed for a few hours. A total of 446 flights, including 207 international ones, were cancelled.

Badung Tourism Office head I Made Badra said the district office, which co-hosted BBTF, had prepared free buses and accommodation for passengers whose flights had to be rescheduled. Luckily, the airport was soon opened again on the same day at 2.30 p.m.

“The eruption gave us a bit of a worry because some of our buyers and some journalists were scheduled to leave the island that day. Thank God the airport was only closed for a few hours,” BBTF chairman Ketut Ardana said.

Even Bigger Next Year

Ketut said the fair reached its goal of Rp 7.71 trillion ($539.7 million) in transactions and next year he wants to “make this event much bigger, better and stronger.”

Ketut expects more overseas sellers will join the fair next year, which will help BBTF become an international travel marketplace. He said Cambodia and Thailand will definitely return as sellers in 2019.

“Cambodia and Thailand will have their pavilions side-by-side next year. It will be bigger than ever,” he said.

However, Haynes suggested the focus of the fair should still be Indonesia. He urged the organizers to “try and push your own beautiful destinations” and said it is better grow “a bit gradually rather than too big too soon.”

“Don’t get people just for the volume, you have to maintain the quality of your sellers,” Haynes said.

Ketut said BBTF’s ultimate goal remains to become a global travel market.

He said Badung will still co-host the festival next year, but other districts have also expressed interest to do it in the years after, including Jayapura in Papua, Samosir in North Sumatra, South Sulawesi and Togean Islands in Central Sulawesi.

“Selection will be on a first come, first served basis. We don’t want to take risks. All of them are capable of doing it. You should only apply to be a co-host when you have plenty of destinations ready to welcome tourists,” Ketut said.

This year, buyers and journalists were taken on a tour to explore tourist destinations in Bali after the fair. The Jakarta Globe and 13 other groups toured Jembrana, a district in West Bali.

Jembrana already has some popular tourist attractions, including the Bunut Bolong tree and Palasari Church, as well as several resorts. But the district so far has done little branding to promote them.

“The Jembrana administration knows it has very attractive tourist destinations. That’s why we invited them to showcase their potentials at BBTF,” Ketut said.

Next year, Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), which developed the Nusa Dua complex where BBTF took place, will organize a trip to their resort in Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara.

Mandalika is one of the Tourism Ministry’s four priority destinations that have been dubbed the “New Balis.”

“We’re building the next Nusa Dua in Mandalika. Next year we’ll try to organize a fam trip there,” ITDC president director Abdulbar M. Mansoer said.

 

(Jakarta Globe)

Borobudur As Priority Destination

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(Jakarta Globe)

Borobudur Helps Promote Yogyakarta’s Lesser-Known Tourist Spots

Jakarta. Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple and a Unesco World Heritage site, may be located in Magelang, Central Java, but most package tours have the temple listed together with other tourist destinations in Yogyakarta, a nearby province – Prambanan Temple and the famous Malioboro shopping strip, for example – instead of ones in Central Java.

Tour operators see this as a win-win solution since Borobudur is currently one of the Indonesian Tourism Ministry’s four priority destinations – the “4 New Balis” – so both the city and the temple will benefit from being promoted together.

Jamaludin Mawardi, the promotion manager of Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan, and Ratu Boko – a state-owned company in charge of managing the three temple complexes – said Yogyakarta is practically the entrance to Borobudur.

“There are more flights, especially from Bali, coming to Yogyakarta airport than to airports in Semarang or Solo. That’s why more tourists go through Yogyakarta instead of Central Java to Borobudur,” Jamaludin told The Jakarta Globe at Bali & Beyond Travel Fair in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Thursday (28/06).

Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto Airport is only 40 kilometers away from Magelang, closer than Semarang’s Ahmad Yani Airport (100 km) and Solo’s Adisumarmo Airport (86 km).

In return, Jamaludin said, given its worldwide fame, Borobudur is the entry point for other tourist destinations in the area.

Marlina Handayani, the head of the information services division at Yogyakarta Tourism Office, said local tour operators have always been promoting Borobudur even before it was listed as a priority destination. Now she hopes the world-famous temple will help promote Yogyakarta’s lesser-known destinations.

“Borobudur is the priority destination but tourists never stop at a single site. They want other destinations. We hope travel agencies can include them in their package tours – not just Borobudur or the Keraton [palaces], but also less popular destinations in Yogyakarta,” Marlina said.

She said the number of tourist attractions in Yogyakarta rose by 40 percent in the past year. A total of 67 beaches are now open for public in Gunung Kidul, once a quiet district south of Yogyakarta. In Bantul, another district on the southern coast of Java, there are 12 new tourist sites, including the Mangunan Pine Forest and Watu Goyang.

Yogyakarta has always been a popular destination for local tourists, but Marlina said there’s still work to be done if the city wants to attract more foreign visitors. Last year, more than 4.7 million Indonesians visited Yogyakarta, but there were only around 300,000 overseas tourists.

“This year, we’ve had around 270,000-285,000 overseas tourists, and the high season is still not over yet,” Marlina said.

However, the quoted number refers to visitors staying at starred hotels. The real number is likely higher considering there are backpackers who prefer to stay at Airbnbs, motels and homestays or tourist villages.

Marlina said the city has been trying to attract more foreign tourists by doing more media promotion, participating in local and international travel fairs and organizing “fam trips.”

“That’s when we invite journalists, travel agents and tour operators to Yogyakarta’s lesser-known destinations so they can spread good news about them. We work together with the Tourism Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and embassies and consulates in Indonesia and abroad,” she said.

(Jakarta Globe)

 

Know Before You Go: Mexico City

 

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(National Geographic)

Experience the best of Mexican traditions in the cosmopolitan capital of Mexico City.

One of the best times for a visit to Mexico City is during its Día de Muertos celebration. This lively holiday centers on November 1 (traditionally honoring deceased children) and 2 (honoring deceased adults), but spans from late October through early November. You can see and do everything you could the rest of the year, with the added spirit of Mexico at its festive finest. Look for ofrendas everywhere. These altars of remembrance hold flowers, candied skulls, toys, and sometimes bottles of tequila; some can be quite elaborate. You’ll also encounter plenty of catrinas—skeletons dressed to the nines.

While you’re in the city, or if you plan to visit Mexico City at other times of the year, take time to visit some of its UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Historic Center, Xochimilco, UNAM (Mexico’s largest public university), and architect Luis Barragan’s House and Studio. Mexico City has more museums than any city in the world except London. In 2008 UNESCO added Día de Muertos to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Here are some ideas to get you started.

WHEN TO GO: Perched at 7,382 feet, Mexico City enjoys pleasant weather year-round, with summer and autumn high temperatures in the low 70s. In the dry months of winter, the thermometer ranges from the low 40s to around 70F, while spring can climb into the upper 70s. It’s a good idea to use sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and, on your first day or two, take it easy. To enjoy Day of the Dead activities, plan to visit Mexico City from mid-October to the first week in November.

Distance from Mexico City: 30 miles, ~1 hour

How to Get There: Take a bus from Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte, Gate 8.

Don’t Forget to Pack: Bring cash for bus and entrance fee, water, sunblock, snacks, camera, and athletic shoes.

(National Geographic)

Mount Kelimutu Lunar’s Landscape

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Description:

While remote, Mount Kelimutu’s lunar landscape and shimmering waters make it a worthwhile trek. Located on the island of Flores, Kelimutu’s claim to fame is its three summit crater lakes, each with a different-hued pool. Geologists have studied the crater over time for its chameleonlike properties. Each lake has shifted from one color to another over the years as it comes into contact with mineral-rich underwater fumaroles. The surprise element of a Kelimutu visit is that you rarely know what colors will greet you when you summit the volcano.

Kelimutu is a volcanoe in Indonesia with three volcanic crater lakes that differ in colors. The volcano is close to the small town of Moni in central Flores Island with the distance of 50 km to the east of Ende,  in East Nusa Tenggara.

The science of the Kelimutu lakes is relatively well known. Lake colors periodically change due to adjustments in the oxidation-reduction status of the fluid of each lake, and also considering the abundance of different major elements, such as iron and manganese. Oxidation-reduction status depends on the balance of volcanic gas input and rainfall rate, and is thought to be mediated by the groundwater system in the volcano itself.

The colors in the lakes change independently from each other, as each has its own unique connectivity to the underlying volcano’s activity. Between January and November 2016, the colors of the craters changed six times. Although it is widely believed that the changes are unpredictable, it is more accurate to say that the lack of any regular monitoring of the volcanic system precludes scientists from having the data necessary to drive widely available predictive models.
Getting There: Mount Kelimutu is located on Flores; Ende is the closest city. A flight from western Flores (Labuhanbajo) to Ende is the easiest option. Bus travelers can get closer to the mountain by taking a bus to the smaller town of Moni.

(National Geographic, Tour Viewers)

The 6 Best Places to Stargaze in Australia

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(National Geographic)

Australia’s vast outback is dotted with world-class telescopes, giving tourists an extraordinary window on nearby planets, stars, and galaxies.

Want to explore the wonders of the universe without the light-years of travel and gravity sickness? Welcome to the exciting world of astro-tourism, where terrestrial astronomers and their telescopes take you on a journey to the stars. Australia’s clear skies and vast tracts of uninhabited land make it the perfect location for some of the world’s most significant astronomical observatories and telescopes—and a great destination for travelers who believe the sky isn’t really the limit.

PARKES TELESCOPE, NEW SOUTH WALES

When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, the Parkes radio telescope was watching. Fondly known as “The Dish,” this 210-foot-wide telescope stands proudly in a grassy paddock that in 1969 was also full of sheep. Located around 220 miles west of Sydney, The Dish is one of the largest single-dish radio telescopes in the southern hemisphere, and has been involved in the discovery of more than half of the 2,000 known pulsars. Visitors can enjoy the monumental vista from the viewing area, or explore the universe in a high-definition 3D experience while kids complete a scavenger hunt.

CANBERRA DEEP SPACE COMMUNICATION COMPLEX, CANBERRA

Nestled in the eucalyptus-covered slopes outside the Australian capital is the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. Its relatively small size belies its global significance as a listening post in NASA’s Deep Space Network; most recently, it caught the final signals from the Cassini spacecraft as it plunged into Saturn’s dense atmosphere last year. The four active antennas loom over a display-packed visitor’s center with exhibits on the past, present, and future of space exploration.

AUSTRALIA TELESCOPE COMPACT ARRAY, NEW SOUTH WALES

The outback Australian town of Narrabri, five hours northwest of Sydney, is home to a population of around 6,000 people, plus plenty of kangaroos, emus, and koalas … and six enormous radio telescopes. The Australian Telescope Compact Array’s 70-feet-wide telescopes have helped study stars that are surrounded by glowing clouds of diamond dust, and been used to image spectacular supernova remnants and near-invisible ghost galaxies—an impressive array visitors can enjoy with daily free admission.

SIDING SPRING OBSERVATORY, NEW SOUTH WALES

If you’re after the “classic” telescope—the hemispheric dome that slides open to allow access to the heavens—then Siding Spring Observatory is the place for you. It’s home to eight research telescopes, including Australia’s largest optical telescope, which observes hundreds of galaxies and stars simultaneously. On the 310-mile trip from Sydney to the observatory’s home near Coonabarabran, visitors can also take in the world’s largest virtual solar system drive.

GINGIN OBSERVATORY, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Not far (at least in Australian distances) from the future site of the international Square Kilometre Array—the largest radio telescope ever built—is the Gingin Observatory. The dark Western Australian skies provide visitors the perfect spot for stargazing—with astronomers’ expert guidance—through the observatory’s telescopes. Visitors can also learn about Aboriginal astronomy from local Noongar elders, and explore gravity and cosmology at the Gravity Discovery Centre.

SYDNEY OBSERVATORY, SYDNEY

The center of Australia’s largest city might seem an odd place for an observatory, but the Sydney Observatory has stood, perched on a grassy hill overlooking Sydney Harbor, for more than 150 years. The warm sandstone building houses the oldest working telescope in Australia (first built to observe the transit of Venus across the face of the sun in 1874) which visitors can experience with a night tour.

 

(National Geographic)

Airlines Hope Flashier Content for Travel Agents Boosts Sales

FILE PHOTO: An American Airlines plane takes off from Los Los Angeles International airport

Sydney. Airlines are betting that a new system for showcasing their wares on travel agents’ screens will help sell fancier seats, tastier meals, lounge access and flight options – and give profits a lift.

Airlines typically sell about 70 percent of their tickets via third parties, such as travel agents and websites. But in recent years, with more emphasis on selling extras on top of bookings, simply presenting fares and flight times in text wasn’t enough, an industry association said.

Instead, a more engaging visual approach to marketing was needed: airlines wanted potential passengers to be able to view their planes, seats and even meals as though they were browsing a shopping site.

The resulting system, new distribution capability (NDC), is beginning to show results three years after it was introduced, airlines say.

“Airlines want the agility and flexibility to push things the way they do on their website and sell more content,” said Yanik Hoyles, director of NDC at the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

With NDC, agents and travel sites are connected directly to airlines’ visuals and information about onboard amenities such as Wi-Fi access, plane type, entertainment options.

The system also allows passengers to buy extras such as seat upgrades, extra baggage or lounge access, and even non-airline items such as hotels, car hire and restaurant reservations, all under the auspices of the carrier on which they book their trip.

“When you know that airlines are investing billions in these options and experiences … you can imagine how happy we are to be able to communicate and try to market these options to the passenger,” IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said at the association’s annual meeting in Sydney recently.

The need for airlines to work harder for robust profits was highlighted in Sydney this week, where rising fuel and labor costs were in the spotlight.

Extras are now responsible for virtually all of the net profits in some instances, Peter Harbison, executive chairman of CAPA-Centre for Aviation, told Reuters.

“More than half of the world’s airline profits come from the US carriers, and of that almost 100 percent is from baggage charges and booking changes,” he said.

As low-cost but highly profitable carrier Ryanair puts it, selling flights is a way to get customers to spend on other items.

“Flights become like bread and milk in supermarket – get them in for that and then you sell them as much other stuff as you can,” the airline’s marketing executive Kenny Jacobs said last month.

IATA, which developed the system for its members, released the first version of NDC in 2015. After two years of testing and several further releases, the standard is ready for widespread adoption, and travel agents and travel technology companies have come around to the concept, Hoyles said.

“This is a massive change, like going from pre-internet to internet,” he said, adding that 55 airlines and 55 travel tech companies had so far been certified for the distribution standard. IATA represents about 280 airlines comprising 83 percent of global air traffic.

NDC is being championed by major full-service carriers such as American Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines .

Some airlines are already seeing benefits. Using the NDC with Amadeus Altea, a platform that connects agents to airlines’ booking systems, Finnair saw bookings on Skyscanner rise an average 30 percent, and the number of site visitors who booked a trip increase 4 percentage points to 12 percent, in the first six months of 2017.

The NDC push by the airlines has caused waves among providers of the traditional distribution systems such as Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport.

While they have been certified for NDC, they highlight there will be challenges for the airlines, such as in handling more transactions and dealing with changes to non-airline items on the itinerary, such as hotels.

“It’s important for airlines to continue partnering with the likes of Travelport and other IT providers that can help them solve these problems,” said Derek Sharp, Managing Director of Travelport’s Air Commerce business.

(Reuters)

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