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LATest e-bulletin January '24

In this issue: Quote of the month ② A Fragmented World ③ Sulawesi, Wawonii Island and EV Batteries ④ So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT ⑤ The Journey of a Pair of Shoes ⑥ Malaysia Digital Arrival Card ⑦ Bali New Tourism Tax ⑧ The Grand Inna Bali Beach ⑨ Visa Free Indonesia? ⑩ Kuala Lumpur, Atmosphere 360 restaurant shuts down


"We should dread willful ignorance, that kind of stupidity that gives its adherents comfort and many companions"


A Fragmented World

In 2024, a dominant trend shaping the global landscape is a significant fragmentation across various sectors, including international politics, economics, geopolitics, social dynamics, and technology. The tumultuous events of 2023 have reinforced trends of disintegration, evident in the increased global competition for dominance, growing polarization in the West during a pivotal election year, challenges faced by multilateral institutions in a more multipolar world, historical conflicts in the Middle East, the prolonged Ukraine war, and the disruptive rise of technologies like Artificial Intelligence. The South China Sea tensions and issues surrounding Taiwan also remain key areas of concern.

 

Despite these challenges, the tourism sector in the Asia Pacific region, including specific destinations, has the potential to become one of the fastest-growing economic sectors. Notably, it has already recovered up to 84% of pre-pandemic levels between January and July 2023. LAT has experienced significant growth, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. In the coming year, LAT plans to implement technological changes involving AI and automated customer service to enhance assistance quality and reduce costs in the medium term.

 

The historical resilience and adaptability of the tourism sector in Asia and the Pacific to crises suggest a positive outlook. International tourism growth may exceed the global average of 5%, as seen in many pre-COVID-19 years.

 

With optimism for the future, we wish all esteemed clientele a successful year ahead.


Sulawesi, Wawonii Island and EV Batteries


Wawonii Island, situated in the Konawe Islands Regency, is a 1.5-hour boat journey off the coast of South-East Sulawesi.

 

In a striking scene, a woman clad in a bra and shorts stands defiantly on an earthmover, resisting the attempts of surrounding men to cover her upper body. Villagers watch and shout as repeated efforts fail to clothe her and remove her from the machinery. These images capture the clash between local farmers and miners on the island, which occurred last February.

 

This idyllic island has been under threat due to Indonesia's nickel rush for approximately six years. Locals, primarily led by women, have been steadfastly opposing the intrusion. As long as the community retains land rights, they refuse to sell, as it constitutes their way of life. Many depend on agriculture-based industries, cultivating and selling produce such as coconuts, cashews, nutmeg, and cloves.

 

However, since the commencement of nickel mining on the island, the environment has suffered. A once-clear stream is now divided into murky and clear sections, with sediment from a nearby nickel mine contaminating the previously pristine water. Some residents now face challenges obtaining clean water and have reduced access to food due to dust covering their crops.

 

The mining activities result in water and dust pollution, evident in aerial views of the coastal strip and villages on Wawonii Island. The previously untouched island, only a short boat trip from the coast of South-East Sulawesi, is now at the centre of a conflict as residents demand the departure of the mining company.

 

This issue reflects a broader trend in Indonesia's nickel industry, the world's largest, adapting to meet the demand for electric vehicle batteries.

 

The consequences on Wawonii Island are twofold: firstly, the water has become turbid and unsafe for consumption, leading to secondary pollution issues such as dust settling on fruit and nut plantations.

 

Despite rejecting offers to sell their land and participating in numerous protests, some islanders recently faced police summons. Fortunately, the summonses were withdrawn after Wawonii islanders reported the situation to Indonesia's Human Rights Commission.

 

The mining sector's contribution to state revenue skyrocketed from 117 billion Indonesian rupiah in 2017 ($11.2 million) to 4 trillion Indonesian rupiah ($384 million) in 2022. While substantial, there appears to be no direct correlation with community welfare.

 

South-East Sulawesi holds the highest number of nickel mining business permits in Indonesia, and although the economy experienced growth from 2022 to 2023 due to the industry, the number of people living in poverty also increased. Data from Indonesia's Central Bureau of Statistics reveals that the percentage of people in poverty in March 2023 was 11.43%, marking a 0.26% rise compared to the previous year.



So Many Good Reasons to Work with LAT

Established in 1991

Independently owned and operated

Purely B2B with travel industry partners

Online booking engine with immediate

confirmation of hotels, tours and transfers

Skilful Contents Provider and Technology user

Knowledgeable and efficient reservations personnel

Long and proud association with the MICE industry in all Lotus destinations

Fully committed to Sustainability and CSR

Climate Contribution for all packages and services on offer

Extensive selection of scheduled group departures and innovative product lines

Direct access to a vast pool of local professional contributors

Owns small boutique island hotels strategically located

LAT Indochina subsidiary operating in Thailand and Vietnam

Multilingual guides in all destinations

Operations offices throughout its destinations

Centralised bookings and payments for multi destination tours

Assistance in language


TATTLER

The Journey of a Pair of Shoes


In a remote village in Borneo, acquiring footwear used to entail a laborious hour-long wooden boat ride to the market. However, this changed a few years ago with the advent of mobile phones. Now, almost every day, villagers peruse Shopee, a popular shopping app connecting them and 130 million Indonesians with merchants thousands of kilometers away. This virtual marketplace magically delivers packages to their doors, revealing the transformative power of e-commerce in a country as vast and diverse as Indonesia.

 

Behind the seemingly magical process lies a sophisticated network of makers, packers, truckers, and shippers spanning Indonesia's 13,000 islands and numerous languages. The e-commerce platform bridges urban skyscrapers and dense jungles, modern fashion trends and traditional tribal lifestyles. This evolution in the way goods move across the archipelago reflects the profound changes occurring in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

 

The journey of a pair of shoes begins with a click on a mobile phone, setting off a chain of events 1,000 km away in Bogor, West Java. Patris, a family firm that transitioned to online sales in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, manufactures the shoes. Over three years, they have grown from zero to employing 50 staff, reaching hundreds, if not thousands, of customers daily—mostly women under 40.

 

Patris initially grappled with online sales but now thrives on live streaming. Ten young women work in shifts, showcasing a variety of footwear, interacting with customers, and persuading them to make a purchase. Once an order is placed, the digital process kicks in, though the physical fulfillment remains a complex challenge.

 

Indonesia has made substantial investments in physical infrastructure over the past decade, with more than 300,000 km of roads, 1,500 ports, and 25 airports constructed, totaling nearly $180 billion in spending. Yet, the unique geographical and logistical challenges of the archipelago make the middle mile of e-commerce delivery particularly intricate. Some regions lack proper roads, postcodes, or addresses, requiring local couriers to navigate based on landmarks and local knowledge.

 

The shoes embark on a journey from Bogor to a hub in Depok, where they are sorted and dispatched to various corners of the country. The challenges persist, with truck drivers navigating traffic and pilots contending with haze from forest fires. Despite the hurdles, Indonesia's e-commerce market continues to attract substantial investment, making it a testing ground for the broader Southeast Asian region.

 

The story of the shoes unfolds across the country, traversing rivers, roads, and ferries. The e-commerce giant, Shopee, plays a pivotal role, having built sorting hubs to process tens of thousands of parcels daily. The journey's final leg involves motorcycles and small ferries, highlighting the innovative methods used to overcome local challenges.

 

Ultimately, after a three-day journey, the shoes arrive in the remote village, met with delight by the residents who extol the wonders of online shopping. The narrative encapsulates the complex interplay between globalization and local resistance, with Indonesia simultaneously embracing and guarding against external influences. The ban on TikTok Shop and restrictions on the sale of imported goods exemplify the nation's protectionist stance, aiming to bolster local businesses like Patris in the face of global competition.



HIGHLIGHTS

Malaysia, Digital Arrival Card

Effective 1 January 2024, all foreign travellers to Malaysia are required to complete a Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) within three days before scheduled arrival in Malaysia. Submitting the form is free of charge.


Bali New Tourism Tax

Bali's government has issued an update regarding the Tourist Retribution, set at $10 (£7.70, €8.90, IDR 150,000) per person.

At the moment, it is possible to pay cashlessly at the BPD Bank counter at the airport, after immigration clearance. Tourists will receive a receipt and a QR code. This QR code will need to be scanned at the Bali airport before departure.

This regulation will come into effect on February 14, 2024.


The Grand Inna Bali Beach

One of Bali’s oldest and most famous hotels is undergoing a rebranding and renovation ahead of its reopening in 2024.The Grand Inna Bali Beach will return in 2024 as Meru Sanur as part of the newly established Special Economic Zone in the coastal resort. The hotel, which sits right on the Sanur Beach front, originally opened its doors in 1966, when it was then known as the Bali Beach InterContinental.


Visa Free Indonesia?

The Indonesian government is considering expanding its visa-free entry policy to attract a higher number of quality tourists. Currently, only passport holders from ASEAN member countries are eligible for visa-free entry into Indonesia. The proposed expansion aims to include several countries such as Australia, China, India, South Korea, the United States, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and other Middle Eastern nations. Passport holders from these countries currently require a visa-on-arrival to enter Indonesia.


Kuala Lumpur, Atmosphere 360 restaurant shuts down

The iconic Kuala Lumpur's revolving restaurant, Atmosphere 360, situated in KL Tower, has ceased its operations following a court order to vacate the premises by January 4, 2024. As per the directive from the Kuala Lumpur High Court, Menara Kuala Lumpur Sdn Bhd along with its present owner Hydroshoppe Sdn Bhd, pursued legal action to evict Asian Kitchen Sdn Bhd, the proprietor of Atmosphere 360.


Our whole product for free and independent travellers, groups and MICE are based on a Climate Contribution programme. This means that part of the greenhouse gas emissions that will be generated are offset by projects in collaboration with Climate Partner, one of the leading climate protection solution providers for companies.


The arising emissions are being compensated by supporting a third-party certified geothermal energy project in Darajat, Java (Indonesia). ​The project helps to meet the growing demand for electricity in Indonesia. By increasing the share of renewable energy, the dependence on fossil fuel-based electricity decreases, and about 705,390 tonnes of CO2 emissions are saved per year.


For over thirty years, Lotus Asia Tours Group has provided services and assistance to travellers the world over, specialising in the design and implementation of corporate events, activities, incentive tours and motivational travel, targeted at FIT, GIT and MICE markets, in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indochina. The group also operates four boutique island hotels in Indonesia, in Lombok, Bali, Sulawesi and Papua. To learn more about our brand please head to our website, or contact us directly; we look forward to hearing how we could help make your next trip, tour or event memorable and successful. Corporate Office D-5-4 Megan Avenue 1, 189 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia T: +60 (0)3 21617075 · F: +60 (0)3 21617084 · E: latgroup@lotusasiatours.com


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