Bali gearing up for tense weekend ahead. Australia issues travel warning

Jason South
Balinese protestors stabbed and burned an effigy of Amrozi in a demonstration calling for his execution. Photo: Jason South

Authorities in Bali are taking the latest Australian travel advisories on Indonesia in their stride.

The Australian government has warned its citizens against travel to Indonesia, citing strong intelligence that there will be reprisal attacks against foreigners due to the imminent executions of three convicted Bali bombers.

Bali governor Made Mangku Pastika said he was unconcerned by the latest warnings. “I think Australians understand conditions in Bali,” he said.

“We and our defense forces will do our best to safeguard Bali.”

Bali Tourism Board chairman Ngurah Wijaya said Australians tended to ignore their government’s advisory against traveling to Bali.

“The proof lies in the fact that the number of Australian tourists this year is still high,” he said.

Official figures from the Bali Immigration Office show that in the year to October 25, the number of Australian visitors to Bali in 2008 was 226,779 – a 55.8% increase on 2007 figures for a similar period.

Airline capacity between Australia and Bali continues to grow. Jetstar launched services from Perth to Denpasar this week and Virgin’s Pacific Blue will make its Bali debut later in the year.

Security was tight on the Indonesian island of Bali today ahead of the expected execution of the three Bali bombers in neighboring Java. Army movements of trucks and soldiers were taking place at key sites.

Small teams of armed soldiers were seen in close proximity to resort hotels on the island.

In Jakarta there is fear of civil disorder by hard-line supporters of the men who murdered 202 people, including 88 Australians, in Bali in 2002.

Yesterday, text messages circulated around Jakarta warning of terrorist attacks on shopping malls and places where Westerners gather. Police dismissed the messages as hoaxes, but they reflect concern being generated by the bombers and their followers.

The three men could be shot any time from Saturday, with informed sources saying that was the most likely day.

Police sources said the plan, which is still being finalised, was for the bombers to be executed by firing squad at three different sites.


Caribbean Cruises – Relax, adventure and enjoy


caribbeanFew travel sectors are growing as fast as cruising and today’s travelers are planning ahead, looking for information on the destinations to make the most of their cruise. Huge population of British cruisers fully rely on Tour Operators for the inside track on cruise attractions, shore excursions, ports and cultural background for each destination.


Most Popular destination for British Cruisers since long time is Caribbean Cruises. The Caribbean Cruise business is huge, bringing in $4-$6 billion annually and carrying more than 4.5 million Britons. It is mainly dominated by few companies like Directline Cruise-which carry most of the passengers. What’s really included in your cruise fare? What cabins are the best–and the worst? What cruise line has the largest standard cabins, even at the lowest price levels? Which cruise line’s ships have rock-climbing walls?–Directline Cruises answers all these questions and many more! 
Their resident Cruise advisors are dishing out cruise-travel advice and has the answers to all your cruise questions. As avid cruisers, they spend most of their time cruising in the Caribbean and knows all the inside info on all the ships and even the best things to do while ashore! 
You know you’re getting the real scoop on cruise the caribbean because unlike other cruise operators, Directline Cruises relies heavily on a cruising expert who knows the industry inside and out
They give you the planning tools you need to tailor your trip. They give options for all budgets. You make the choices.

Ski France is all set to welcome skiing holiday makers with new attractions

The Ski Club of Great Britain’s annual Snowsports Analysis found that 1.35 million Britons are preparing to take to the slopes over the coming months, representing a three per cent increase on last year.

With the snow falling even in London, our thoughts are turning to this season’s ski holidays. An increasing number of British people are choosing to take skiing holidays on the slopes, it has been revealed. Furthermore, the number of people making their bookings with a specialist ski holiday tour operator is also on the up.

When it comes to most popular destination for ski holidays amongst Britons than ‘Ski France‘ is most favorable term used to define their ski destination. Few other popular ski holiday destinations include resorts in Austria, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania & Andorra apart from France leading the list.

Ski France holidaymakers should consider heading to Les Deux Alpes in France as local authorities are offering free lift and ski passes on some of the lower slopes. France’s ski regions are also expanding their range of accommodation aimed at the high end range of visitors.

Les Menuires, Tignes and Val d’ Isere are all opening new four star hotels, the highest category that France has to offer.

The ski region around La Plagne is getting a new gondola lift connecting the village of Les Coches to the top of the mountain slopes. Les Menuires also has a new toboggan run and Val Thorens a new Snow Park. Les Deux Alpes is also offering a new information service to visitors on avalanche risks as well as providing safety tips. A number of off-piste events are also scheduled such as ice diving in Tignes, the Poker Week in Les Deux Alpes and a Gastronomic Week in Val Thorens.

391 aircrafts will carry record 168,000 Indian Haj Pilgrims this year

JEDDAH – Haj arrangements for Indian pilgrims this year are marked by a number of new services and facilities and an increase in the number of pilgrims, according to Consulate General of India, Sayeed Ahmed Baba.
“With the help of the moassassas (tawafah establishments) we have been able to accommodate all our pilgrims coming through the Haj Committee of India within the traditional boundaries of Mina,” Baba told a press conference at the consulate general of India here on Sunday.
A record number of 168,000 pilgrims would perform Haj this year, he said adding that special measures have been taken to avoid overcrowding and to make the Haj smooth, safe and sound for the pilgrims.
Last year, the total number of pilgrims from India was 1,57,000.
Baba said some of the new services and facilities include 30 percent outsourcing of buildings maintenance to the moassassas to see which organization can serve the pilgrims better. Till last year, the building owners were responsible for maintenance.
He said he was happy to note that Aziziyah, which was opened for pilgrim accommodation in 2006 and was not popular, has been voluntarily preferred by 25,000 pilgrims this year. “It is their choice,” he said and added that still a majority prefer to stay within a kilometer of the Haram in Makkah, even though it costs more. A total of 51,171 Indian pilgrims will stay in the vicinity of Haram, followed by 31,422 in Aziziyah. He said that Hai Al-Hijra is a new area where 12,876 pilgrims will stay. As for other areas, 9,522 will have accommodation in Dawar Kudai, 9, 426 in Shisha and 460 in Nuzha.
About 500 buildings have been hired to accommodate all the pilgrims coming through the Haj Committee,” Baba said.
Transport arrangements have been made for 54,500 pilgrims to help them go to Haram and return every day. Buses of Saptco, Hafil, Al Jazira would be used. A large number of volunteers and seasonal staff of consulate would man different bus stops.
The first flight of Haj pilgrims would reach from Hyderabad on Oct. 30 carrying 300 pilgrims by Saudi Arabian Airlines at Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport, Madina. The first flight at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport will also land on the same day carrying 200 passengers from Srinagar by Air-India.
A total number of 391 aircraft would be pressed into service. Saudia would carry 60,000 pilgrims whereas 63,211 would be carried by Air-India.
On an average 12 aircraft daily would be carrying about 3,600 pilgrims per day till Dec. 2 from 17 different embarkation points in India – Ahmedabad, Aurrangabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kolkatta, Kozikodi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Srinagar, and Varanasi.
To assist the consulate in Haj arrangements, the Government of India is deputing five senior officers as coordinators, 135 doctors, 146 paramedics, 51 assistant Haj officers and 171 Haj assistants.

Shatterred dreams. Kingfisher Airlines frozen pilot recruitments of ASA passed outs

It is very unfortunate what has happenned to the students of American School of Aviation but now it is turning out to be more worse for those already passed out from ASA. On-going slump in Aviation Sector all over the world has forced India’s second largest Domestic carrier Kingfisher Airlines to freeze current and further pilot recruitments and Airline is not honouring the ‘letters of intent’ it issued for the position of co-pilots earlier this year, mostly passed out students from American School of Aviation, according to the Indian media reports.

Young pilots, who received letters of intent from Kingfisher Airlines promising them co-pilot positions once they completed Type Rating training in American School of Aviation say, several of them have successfully completed their course and have got Indian licences, but have not heard from the airline regarding the promised job.

”They have been told that the airline do not require crew. The communication was given to students as and when they completed course and contacted the airline for the promised job,” says a source.

A young pilot who had been issued this letter says, ”The letter was issued to me in April and it clearly stated that I had to bear the course fee at the American School of Aviation, a one & only institute recognized by the airline. Since a job at the end of the course was guaranteed I coughed up USD 72,000 for this training programme. But after I came back, I contacted Kingfisher but I was asked to stay put and that they would get back to me, which has not happened so far.”

When contacted, a Kingfisher spokesperson – appearing hassled – said the airline would comment on the matter after a day. He referred to the statement issued by the airline on Saturday on the salary cut issue that spoke of the turbulence in the aviation industry meriting reduction in the capacity deployed.

‘All these letters say that the airline would absorb us once foreign flight licence is converted into Indian and we are found ‘skilled enough’,” avers a pilot, who too holds an Letter of Intent. He says this ”skilled enough” criteria that airlines could use against them.

The present job crisis seems routed in the massive recruitments that several airlines undertook in the year 2006 when many pilots undertaking training in India were called for placements. However, no airline is undertaking such placement exercises now. The placements in 2006 included a psychometric test and a personal interview following which letters of intent promising a job in the airline were offered. ”Of 107 people who had appeared for these interviews, 45 were selected and I was one of them,” says a pilot who had appeared for Kingfisher interview.

In 2007 when these cadets were training in American School of Aviation, senior officials of the airline visited them there also. American School of Aviation used to run 12 month course named Kingfisher Airlines Programme (KFA) India, offering special discounts to KFA employees, their siblings or children. During the programme, they get free housing facility, which estimated to cost around $3,500.

Luxury holidays in Mauritius, Playground of life and love – Eden de vie et d’amour

A view of Le Saint Geran Mauritius
A view of Le Saint Geran Mauritius

Originally, honeymoons are frequently associated with luxury holidays. Journeys to such destinations that are luxurious, far from madding crowd and unusual. A journey to reminiscent forever will be the perfect honeymoon.

You may envision your honeymoon as nonstop bliss, but like any trip it can have its ups and downs. Most popular & crowded traditional travel destination are booked a year in advance. Wonder why people choose such locations where only the bedroom of their hotel is the place where they can be within themselves.

Our thirst for world’s most exotic and unusual locations for the sake of our readers started with compiling many travel articles from magazines, consulting the guidebooks at the nearest mega-bookstores, reviewing of travel sections of newspapers and travel websites. We narrowed our destination choice to Mauritius, a wonderful luxurious destination in Indian Oceans to have your wedding, honeymoon or even playing golf. Following are the Mauritius’ two best selling luxury resorts of all time which are popular for wedding ceremonies and honeymoons all over the world.

One of the most stunning locations in Mauritius is Le Saint Geran Mauritius, which is located on 60 acres of tropical gardens filled with swaying palms and colorful flowers on the golden peninsula of Belle Mare, set on the northeast coast of Mauritius, with the Indian Ocean on one side and coral-sheltered lagoon on the other, fringed by nearly a mile-long white sand beach.

Nature's own golf court at Le Touessrok Mauritius
Nature's own golf court at Le Touessrok Mauritius

Another Mauritius’ most luxurious resorts, Le Touessrok Mauritius sits in a gloriously romantic setting on  promontory, surrounded by white sand beaches and backed by the dramatic profile of the Bambous mountains. Guests look out on the turquoise waters of the shallow lagoon from their suites on an islet, linked to main building by a charming wooden bridge. The no-noise factor is a definite plus for residents – only non-motorized water sports are offered around the resort.

Mauritius is highly suitable for couples seeking luxury holidays in complete privacy, relaxation and intimacy.

Air Hostess Training institutes in India faces tough competition from US Technical Schools

The boom in the India’s aviation sector that begun a few years ago resulted in institutes for training of cabin crew and others wishing to enter the aviation industry had mushroomed all over the country.

Students paid lakhs of rupees as fees for the training they received at these institutes.

But the financial crisis affecting the civil aviation sector in the past few months and whole drama of sacking & than reinstating of 1900 flight attendants by India’s largest private airline have shattered public confidence in the career prospects of cabin crew.

Most of the students are now enrolling themselves to technical schools in US to safeguard their careers. Most of the Technical Schools in US are highly job oriented resources for local as well as foreign students.

In fact, a few months ago, the UB Group that operates Kingfisher Airlines had unveiled an ambitious country-wide plan to open training academy centres for hiring cabin crew in more than 10 cities across India. But on Wednesday, the aviation sector was left shell-shocked.

A Kingfisher Airline official told SecondCity, “The financial mess that the airline industry is in bound to have an adverse affect on the institutes training young people for the hospitality industry including cabin crew. The current scenario is indeed very uncertain and one can only hope that the aviation sector bounces back in due course.” A functionary of the Frankfinn Institute of air-hostess training expressed optimism even in the current bleak scenario.

Aspiring air hostesses have paid anything between Rs 1 to Rs 1.5 lakh for a one-year course. Though Jet has taken back the sacked employees, training authorities have warned students to consider other options. “We have told our students to also look at tourism or hotels. Otherwise, they may have to sit at home for at least the next six months,” one of the air hostess training institute’s spokesman revealed.

Frankfinn training institute, which has many centres in Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and other major cities of North India mainly with more than 15000 students on its roll, has also been feeling the heat of slow down since August 2008.

“In August, 10 of our students were recruited by Kingfisher Airlines. But after that recruitments by domestic carriers were frozen,” said Atin Banerjee, business development manager (East), Frankfinn training institute.

According to an aspiring airhostess at Frankfinn, students can definitely opt for tourism sector. But none of the other sectors match the pay of aviation.

“The students who are aspiring for aviation sector jobs can try when the situation will improve,” said Amrita Shome of Airhostess Academy (AHA) in Calcutta.

Most of the training institutes have already started counselling their students to take up jobs in other sectors.

The forthcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games and the burgeoning number of airports in the country are the reasons why air-crew training institutes do not seem anxious about their students’ future.

Samir Valia, Vice-President, corporate communications, Frankfinn Institute of Airhostess Training, says mergers and acquisitions are good news for the industry in the long term. “The airlines may not be hiring a lot of staff at present, but the worst seems to be over now. As far as long term job prospects goes, the aviation and hospitality industry is definitely on the upward curve,” he says.

The same seems to be the view of Sapna Gupta, founder and director of the Air Hostess Academy (AHA). She says the lean phase is a passing occurrence. “Layoffs are a result of short-term losses. The economic situation should be solved in the next couple of months and the aviation and hospitality sector will witness growth again,” she says.

Kuku S Kumar of TMI Academy, also reiterates that staff reorganisation is good for her students. “The airlines will probably take on new staff now. With the increase in the number of airports in the country and the slated expansion of airlines to foreign shores, there is no need to fear a slump.”

The Students of the various academies are showing a similar attitude. Natasha, a student of Frankfinn seems confident that good students would now get job opportunities faster. “The airlines will probably take fresh recruits now because they work at lower salaries. This works out to be financially viable for them and also gives us better opportunities.”

Natasha has completed four months of the year-long course at Frankfinn. “By the time we finish, they’ll be hiring more people,” she says confidently.

Gaurav Arora, a student of AHA, however, has a more cautious take on the subject. “Since we are witnessing a financial slump at present, there will now be lesser number of opportunities for students who have not done so well in their studies. Only the top few will get jobs easily. This will create problems for weaker students,” he says.

Academies remain optimistic, insisting things can only go upwards from rock-bottom which they believe aviation in India has hit, and would like to believe things will return back to normal in the next 3 to 6 months but it seems very difficult because number of students are dropping out of these institutes and enrolments in Technical schools of US is going up