Friday, October 30, 2009

October 30, 2009

Timor lures tourists with historic independence sites

Tito Belo and Sunanda Creagh, Reuters October 30, 2009, 3:16 pm

DILI (Reuters) - East Timor's struggle against Indonesian occupation may soon become a tidy earner, with the government considering plans to promote key sites of the 25-year fight for independence as part of a tourism campaign.

A former Portuguese colony, East Timor was invaded in 1975 by Indonesia, but a secessionist movement soon emerged, led by Xanana Gusmao, who is now the country's prime minister, and Jose Ramos-Horta, its president.

Gusmao spent much of occupation either in jail or on the run, often hiding with guerrilla fighters in East Timor's mountainous terrain, while Ramos-Horta lived in exile, campaigning for independence.

An estimated 180,000 died during the occupation, including 1,000 the United Nations says were killed during the bloody 1999 vote for independence.

But tourists regard East Timor's turbulent past as a draw card, said Japanese tour guide, Noriko Inaba, as she escorted a Japanese tour group to Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery -- where more than 200 East Timorese were killed in 1991 when Indonesian troops fired on mourners, an event known as the Dili massacre.

"It's an historical place because of the tragedy," she told Reuters. "This is one of the things we came to see here."

The cemetery's caretaker, Joao da Costa, said tourists often visit the site and take photos.

"If more people came from overseas, maybe we could develop faster," he said.

East Timor's tourism minister, Gil da Costa Alves, said the government wants tourism to contribute more towards economic growth in a country that's one of the poorest in Asia and dependent on oil and gas revenues for the bulk of state finances.

While there are serious obstacles, including poor infrastructure and a shortage of hotel rooms, he sees scope to promote the historic sites, beaches, and wildlife.

"We have this opportunity for historical tourism, for people who are interested in those sites that are part of our history," he said.

"Even the cave where Xanana was in hiding, this is a place we can promote and other places around the country where our leaders were hiding up in the hills."

About 19,000 people visited East Timor last year, up from about 12,000 in 2006, when tourists stayed away because of political strife. Now that the situation was more stable, Alves said he hoped that in five years' time East Timor could attract as many as 200,000 tourists a year.

However, Loro Horta, an East Timor analyst based at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University was sceptical.

"The entire country has less than 700 rooms. Right now it's already difficult to get rooms in Dili," said Horta, who is also the son of the president.

"So 200,000 a year, that's something like 700 a day. How exactly are they flying there and where are they going to stay?"

Horta said more affordable flights to Dili, a bigger airport and more reliable power supply were also needed before East Timor could compete with Indonesia's Bali island as a tourist destination.

"I really hope I'm wrong but we will be lucky if we can get 50,000 a year by 2014," he said.

Alves said new a infrastructure plan -- including a $600 million (362.5 million pound) airport redevelopment, construction of new boutique hotels, and the improvement of basic infrastructure such as roads -- would boost tourism in future.

He said a broader tourism campaign would be aimed at the Australian and Japanese markets and would involve advertising and competitions such as a recently launched fishing tournament and the Tour de Timor bicycle race that took place earlier this year.

Today, conditions in dusty downtown Dili are still very basic and poverty is rife but the underdevelopment means that many beaches, diving spots, and bushland tracts are relatively pristine.

Last year, the government opened the Nino Konis Santana national park in an effort to protect many of its animal and plant species while providing a new attraction for tourists.

"Our strategy is to focus on the things that make East Timor different to surrounding destinations," said Alves.

(Editing by Sara Webb and Megan Goldin)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Deputy PNTL Commander Afonso

Sat,October 24th, 2009.

It is not frequent to have Timorese in Washington, DC. however,it's fortunate to have Deputy Commander of PNTL Afonso in Washington, DC. Commander Afonso has been in the US almos a month. He was sent to FBI training Center in Virginia for training in a number of areas.

Ambassador Constancio Pinto Assumes responsibility as Head of Mission

Mon, Oct.26th 2009

Days pass bye so quick that October will be gone soon.
Today Ambassador Pinto officially assumes the responsibility as the Head of Mission, and today's priority is to inform all the foreign missions and international organizations accredited in Washington,D.C. of the changes taken place in the Embassy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Presentation of copies of credentials to H.E. Ambassador Capricia Marshall, the Chief of Protocol at the Department of State.
It was a privillege and honor to be the Ambassador to United States of America.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday 20th October 2009

Preparation for the presentation of copy of the letter of credence to Department of State. It is only a few days away. I look forward to it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moday, October 19th, 2009


The US Department of State, Office of Protocol, informed the Embassy that the date for Ambassador designate Constacio Pinto to present copies of the letter of credence to the Deputy Secretary of State on Friday 23, 2009 at the Department of State.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Washington October, Friday 16th, 2009

Washington October, Friday 16th, 2009

This is the second day raining continuosly in Washington. D.C., the Capital of the World.

Seating in the office making phone calls,replying to e-mails and following the situation in the US and around the world.Breaking news include the aproval of the Health Care Bill by Finance Committe of the Senate, election in Afganistan,and the endorsement of Goldstone Repport on Gaza war by the UN Human Rights Council.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday October 15th, 2009

Thursday October 15th, 2009

It's raining, and I am working in the Embassy, not official yet,reading news and draw down action plan of the Embassy for 2010.
The 2010 should be different, the Embassy should be much more pro-active. Its activities should be foccused on economic diplomacy as stated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr.Zacarias Albano da Costa, in his New Year speech.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October, Wednesday 14th, 2009

October, Wednesday 14th, 2009

Awaiting for presentation of copies of credentials to the U.S. Department of State.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wahington, D.C. 13th October 2009

Wahington, D.C. 13th October 2009

Pending the presentation of copies of Credential and letter of Recall of his predecessor, to the Deputy Secretary of State of the United States Department of State, apointed Ambassador Constancio Pinto today is visiting the RDTL Embassy on 4201 Connecticut Avenue where he will have a meeting with the Mr. Licinio Branco, the Charger d'Affairs, and all the staff of the Embassy.