Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Budget Carriers Sip Improving Travel Market by Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours

Indonesian Muhammad Fikri, 28, studying in the Netherlands, bought round-trip tickets from a low-cost airline for his solo trip to Italy this month.

Fikri,  who worked in a social business institution in Jakarta last year, was an avid backpacker exploring Asia on low-cost carriers.

“I don’t have a huge budget, but I do have some money spare to travel abroad,” he said.

Many middle-class Indonesians are using their disposable income for travel and Fikri is one of them.

The Transportation Ministry projected that the total figure of air travelers in the country will be as much or higher than 100 million this year, 11 percent up from 2013’s estimated 93.56 million.

To comply with the towering demand, budget airlines Citilink, Lion Air and AirAsia have all set increase plans for this and the coming years.

The budget airline unit of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, Citilink, will receive eight Airbus A320s sometime between June and December this year to make-up international routes.

The carrier currently operates 22 aircraft, last month with a flight from Surabaya, East Java, to Johor Bahru, Malaysia, it has made its international-route debut.

Citilink CEO Arif Wibowo said the carrier would also offer other international flights connecting Surabaya to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, early this month and Singapore in May, as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Perth, Australia, in the coming months.

It aims to almost double its aircraft to 50 units by 2015 and augment its scheduled domestic and international routes from 28 to 37 this year.

The country’s largest low-cost airline, Lion Air, will focus on adding several domestic routes this year.

“There are still many domestic routes that we haven’t covered yet,” said Lion Group corporate secretary Ade Simanjuntak.

The Lion Group functions low-cost carriers Lion Air and Wings Air, full-service carrier Batik Air, and the low-cost carrier combined ventures Malindo Air and Thai Lion Air in Malaysia and Thailand, correspondingly.

The group transported 36 million passengers, or around 40 percent of the country’s total air travelers last year, according to the Center for Aviation (CAPA). Of the 36 million passengers, 35 million took domestic flights, CAPA estimated.

Lion Air, which serves 36 domestic and international destinations with its 95 aircraft, is slated to open new local routes connecting Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, to Sulawesi cities, like Makassar, Palu and Manado, Ade said.

Currently, the carrier now flies abroad to, among others, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Singapore; and Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia.

Ade said that this year, the group only expected Batik Air, which was launched last May, to start flying to Singapore in November at the earliest.

The long-term plan to add hundreds of aircraft, he said, would still go ahead. The Lion Group has ordered at least 570 aircraft worth US$46 billion from Airbus and Boeing, with delivery up to 2028.

Indonesia AirAsia (IAA), an affiliate of the Malaysia-based AirAsia Group, will focus on international routes this year together with the group, said IAA spokeswoman Audrey Prograstama.

“We are very strong in international flights. The number of air travelers across Southeast Asia increased up by 20 percent in recent years,” she said.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Travel Tips: Holidays in Macedonia, Plus This Week's Best Deals

Why Skopje is a small city with a big heart, and 16 reasons why the west is best and your chance to escape to Santorini

Why go?
Skopje's skyline tells the story of this Balkan city more vividly than any history book: socialist-era apartment blocks, the minarets of Ottoman mosques, Byzantine domes, Turkish bathhouses and, most controversially, neoclassical edifices, bridges and grandiose monuments – the result of a recent construction spree aimed at bolstering national pride. Now the building dust has settled, visitors will find much to delight and intrigue them.

What to do
Get lost in the narrow lanes of Caršija, Skopje's most atmospheric neighbourhood. Here, you'll find Daud Paša Baths, once the largest Turkish hammam in the Balkans, now home to the National Gallery of Macedonia (nationalgallery.mk). Cross the Vardar River on the 15th-century Stone Bridge to Macedonia Square with its triumphal arch, statues of national heroes and illuminated fountains. On the slopes of Mount Vodno, a few miles out of town, the 12th-century St Pantelejmon Monastery is a treasure trove of Byzantine art. After you've admired the beautiful frescos, hike, or take the gondola, up the mountain.

Where to stay
Urban Hostel is Skopje's best budget option, with a choice of dorms, twin rooms or self-catering apartments in Debar Maalo, a lively neighbourhood full of bars and restaurants (dorms from €13, apartments from €46, urbanhostel.com.mk).

Where to eat
Stara Kuka is the place to try Macedonian specialities, such as stuffed peppers, shopska salad, bean stew and barbecued pork ribs, in a 19th-century house with carved wooden ceilings (starakuka.com.mk).

Insider tip
"Walking along the Kej and eating in the restaurants that line the river is a must," says Kathleen Beccue, who runs the K8 American bakery and café in the Old Town (k8skopje.com). "Plaza de Toros and Anja are a couple of my favourites. After dinner, buy an ice cream and walk to Macedonia Square. At dusk you'll be treated to the call of the hooded crows which roost in the parks around the city."

Home: go west with i-escape After a stormy few months, boutique-accommodation website i-escape is showing its support for the West Country by launching a "West is Best" campaign, with discounts of up to 20% and added-value extras at 16 of its hotels and cottages, including the charming Sea Garden Cottages on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, and the Bull in Bridport. Book before 8 May (i-escape.com/westisbest)

Home: escape to Santorini British Airways launches its first direct flights from the UK to the Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos next month. A week at the simple but elegant Kamari Beach hotel with direct access to a sandy beach on Santorini costs £466pp including flights from Heathrow, based on two sharing a superior sea-view room, and departing on 18 May (britishairways.com)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Indonesia Targets 299 Airports by 2019

JAKARTA, April 1014 — According to  Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono, Indonesia will have a total of 299 airports in five years time, adding that 62 new airport projects are currently in the pipeline.

Quaoting Bambang, “they are not all as big as city airports, but they are essential to improve accessibility in our country.”

Most of the new airports would be built in the eastern parts of Indonesia, Bambang said. “Airports are the most effective way to help distribute both people and goods in places like eastern Indonesia which have a challenging topography,” he further added.

As of today, there are 237 airports in Indonesia.  Out of 237, 16 of which are commercial and are situated in big cities managed by state-run operators, PT Angkasa Pura I and PT Angkasa Pura II while the others come under the Transportation Ministry's technical management unit. — Bernama

For more details please visit WESTHILL CONSULTING, TRAVEL & TOURS, Singapore at their official website http://westhillconsulting.info/

Monday, April 14, 2014

Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours Singapore: Jakarta Weather

Jakarta, the capital and largest city of Indonesia, has a hot and humid tropical wet and dry climate.

Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is located at the northwest end of Java Island faces north onto Jakarta Bay and the Java Sea.  Being the regional center for business and culture and is also the jumping off point for reaching the Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu) National Park, Jakarta has been booming on its tourism.

Located in the cosmopolitan, Jakarta has a superior modern edifices, old colonial style buildings, monuments, mosques and green parks that offer lovely contrasts. Visitor travels around in the central part of the city naming Merdeka Square and the National Monument, Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta Cathedral.  There are a lot of shopping malls and the gem in the city's crown in the Old Jakarta city quarter.

Old Jakarta is full of heritage structures.  The examples of these heritage structures are: Wayang Museum, the Port Tower (Menara Syahbandar) and Kota Intan Drawbridge while a cultural park, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, is in Jakarta's eastern suburbs and features exhibits, cultural shows and reconstructions from all over Indonesia.

The best time to visit Jakarta is during the dry season months from July to October but due to the drainage system being swamped, the Jakarta weather in the wet season months can cause flooding in parts of the city so this isn’t the best time to visit.  While, visitors who wish to spend the holidays in Pramuka Island or other islands in Kepulauan Seribu near Jakarta may perhaps visit in the rainy season, as it seldom rains for the whole day.

It is the wet season in Jakarta during November till June Jakarta. January is the wettest month of the year when it receives around 400 mm of precipitation. Moreover, the month witnesses only 92 hours of sunshine. Throughout the wet season the average high stands at 32°C while the low falls to 24°C. In fact, temperature hardly varies from season to season in Jakarta.  While the rest of the month remains dry in Jakarta. During Summer Jakarta remains hot and humid with the average high of 34°C while the low stands at mid twenties. Rainfall is very much uncommon in the city, but not rare as September gets around 29 mm of precipitation. Although temperature remains somewhat hotter than those of monsoon months, it is the best season to visit the capital city of Indonesia.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Must sees in Jakarta, Indonesia

The central tourist attractions are located in the center of the city. Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours Singapore provides you with useful information of must sees in Jakarta, Indonesia

Kota district is the centre of old Batavia. It is the tourist hub of Jakarta.  The focal action is centered in the historic Taman Fatahillah, a paved square that looks like it came from another era.  If you visit the old port area, Sunda Kelapa, you can see the schooners returning from the high seas to trade their exotic spices.  It is a picture immortalized in Joseph Conrad evocative descriptions.  Jakarta’s most unforeseen attractions is the vibrantly painted sailing ships are.

The Maritime Museum, is situated in Sunda Kelapa.  A warehouse for the Dutch is now home to the maritime museum but not until the 19th century.  The various adventures at sea was brought to life by the model boats and faded sepia photos, it  includes the voyage to Jakarta from Europe via Aden.  You can take in the spectacular views of the surroundings from the old watchtower.

From Indonesia and Southeast Asia, the Puppet Museum is a treasure house of puppets. You can witness an attention-grabbing collection of traditional Indonesian puppets like wayang kulit and wayang golek.  You can enjoy puppet shows, which are a regular feature of the museum.

Jakarta’s most famous landmark, towering over Merdeka Square, is the National Monument (Monas). This imposing monument is a symbol of Indonesia’s independence and strength. The monument is 132 meters tall and topped with 35 kilograms of gold. The Freedom Hall represents Indonesia’s fight for independence through a succession of dioramas.  Take an elevator to the observation platform and to have a bird’s-eye view of the cityscape.  At the base of the National Monument is the National Museum.

National Museum is Jakarta’s most impressive museum, the National Museum presents fascinating flashbacks into the history of the city and Indonesia.  There are early Chinese ceramics, pieces culled from Java’s myriad temples and a bronze elephant that was gifted to the museum by the King of Thailand as exhibits.

Experience the Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, a sprawling 100-hectare park in Jakarta is an exciting diversion.  Each of Indonesia’s provinces has pavilions with displays of regional handicrafts and clothing.  There is a huge ‘lagoon’ where you can roam around the islands of this archipelago.  You can also take in a bird’s eye view from the cable cars.  What's more, there are museums, theatres, restaurants and a bird park with a walk-in aviary.

Ragunan Zoo is located 16 km south of the city centre in the Pasar Minggu area.  The zoo is home to approximately 4000 animals, like the well-known Komodo dragons. The formidable Java tigers are a further highlight of this park. You can spend hours just wandering around the extensive parklands, rainforests, and a landscaped lake.

This stunning Old Dutch quarter, Taman Fatahillah, is home to some old and ancient monuments.  This is a grand place to view some remarkable colonial architecture.  The focal attractions here are the oldest church in Jakarta, the Gereja Sion and Si Jagur, the cannon which symbolized fertility.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Terrorist Bashir 'Wants to Disrupt Polls'

April 7 AAP - According to a media report, Radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has called for his supporters to disrupt this week's Indonesian legislative elections.

Indonesian police is watchful after Bali bombing mastermind Abu Bakar Bashir encouraged supporters to interrupt this week's Indonesian legislative elections.

The convicted terrorist has asked supporters not to be "unproductive" and to create disorder Wednesday's nationwide ballot.

A warning has been sent by Indonesia's anti-terror forces that a terrorist network could be planning an attack, said Police Lieutenant Colonel Adi Deriyan Jayamarta told Indonesia's Kompas news website police.

An oreder was imposed by the police chief, based in Malang, East Java, that officers has to stay in communication with religious leaders and approach any suspicious object with care, especially near polling stations.

"There's expert personnel who will handle it," he said on Monday.

"Don't think that you have some kind of `blast-free magic' and handle it yourself."
According to Lt Col Adi, Detachment 88, Indonesia's counter-terror squad, had information from a terror suspect involved with a network "that has done military training for firearm and bomb usage".

Noting the elections, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade updated its travel advice for Indonesia last week.

"Australians are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations and political rallies, as they can turn violent with little notice," a spokesman said.

"The department keeps the travel advice for Indonesia under close review and updates it as required."

The founder of Jemaah Islamiah (JI), Bashir, is serving 15 years in Nusa Kambangan.   Nusa Kambangan is a high-security jail off the coast of central Java dubbed the Alcatraz of Indonesia.

Over the 2002 Bali bombings, Bashir was acquitted, but was jailed over his role in setting up a terror cell in Aceh.

AAP Bashir was still giving orders from behind bars, albeit to a group with a different name, but the same radical ideology as JI, says the Indonesia's counterterrorism agency chief in 2012.

The bombing of two Kuta nightclubs in 2002 killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours Jakarta Wishes Australia’s Travel Warning Eased

Westhill Consulting Travel & Tours Singapore on INDONESIA has beleaguered Australia's strict warning concerning travel to the country, emphasizing it is time to lower the official advice or stop it entirely.

However Indonesia's ambassador to Australia, Primo Alui Joelianto, was cautious of the progressively sharper local debates on asylum seeker arrivals, declining to be drawn on whether Canberra's warning to ''reconsider travel'' to Indonesia sits at odds with the Government's hard work to send asylum seekers to the country.

''As neighbours our relations are up and down,'' Mr Joelianto said, ''but now our relations are the best of all time.''

He said he regularly asked the Australian Government to look again at the travel warning system, which ranks Indonesia only one step below the top level of ''do not travel''.

''If you put this travel advisory, Indonesia is punished twice. First, because we don't get any money from tourists, and, second, you create also a bad image of Indonesia,'' he said.

''If you cannot remove this advisory, at least you decrease or reduce the level. Indonesia is put in the same level as Afghanistan.'' Indonesia is in fact ranked one level below Afghanistan.

Mr Joelianto said Indonesia was committed to work with Australia to confront people-smuggling but there were limits to Indonesia's capacity to deal with the problem. ''Our territory, it is so big and so huge, [and] it is not easy to control every point of our territory. We have more than 17,500 islands,'' he said.

He said the countries of origin - singling out Sri Lanka, Burma and Afghanistan - bore responsibility too.

Mr Joelianto said the Indonesian Government was struggling to reduce poverty levels and that building enough housing in the country of more than 230 million people was a challenge. ''So if we have to provide again housing for these asylum seekers, that creates problems for us,'' he said.

Mr Joelianto had been in Melbourne for his first visit ever since taking up his post in February and agreeing with this weekend's Indonesian cultural festival at Federation Square.