Tourism on Indonesian resort islands slowdown after dual volcano eruptions

Tourism on Indonesian resort islands slowdown after dual volcano eruptions
Tourism on Indonesian resort islands slowdown after dual volcano eruptions

Indonesian resort islands of Lombok and Bali are facing tourism slowdown after two volcano eruptions with local government estimates up to $45,000 loss in the sector in less than a month.

Volcanic activity of Mount Barujari, located on the east of the caldera of Mount Rinjani, the second biggest volcano in the Southeast Asia nation, became active since end last month.

Thick volcanic ashes had forced Lombok International Airport to close for a week, while airport in neighbouring Bali island was closed for four days, stranded thousands of tourists earlier this month.

It was the second time in less than half a year that both airports were closed because of volcano eruption. In July, Mount Raung on the nearby East Java Province also grounded thousands of tourists.

At the foot of Mount Rinjani, a well-known trekking destination, resorts usually bustling with tourists were exceptionally quiet as trekking activity was halted due to the eruption.

Rudy, the owner of the largest trekking company in the area said business had slowed down significantly after the trek was closed, and many tourists had asked for refund.

“A lot of people cancelled and we, especially my staff, are very worried. Also the customers who’d booked the trekking earlier asked for refund since their trip is not happening,” said Rudy, who goes with one name like many Indonesians.

Unlike Lombok, business at neighbouring Bali island remain thriving, although local tourism office estimate the second volcano eruption at Rinjani had cost the industry $45,000 in nearly a month.

“We estimate the tourism industry lost about $1,500 (U.S. dollars) every day after the airport was closed for four days (because of volcano eruption) recently. More or less we estimate the loss is around 45 billion rupiah,” said Agung Yuniartha, Director of Bali Tourism office.

Over 700 flights in Bali, one of the busiest in Indonesia, were cancelled. Tour operators in Bali said they also facing some cancellations.

“In terms of business we had some cancellations. We had clients who are here in Bali stranded and wanting to leave due to personal commitments, due to work commitments, they have to leave Indonesia. So we assist as much as we possibly can in terms of information, the airport has been giving us information during July and the most recent eruption,” said Jason Lim, Chief Operating Officer of Smailing tour, the biggest tour operator on the island.

Despite the volcano remaining active, tourists on Bali seem unnerved by the situation.

“You have a problem if you have a plan to do something, to see a volcano or something and you can’t do it because of this eruption. Right now it’s because of a question of dangerous. I can’t see a problem,” said Ignacio Errazti, a tourist from Spain.

Volcanic activity observer from Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) told Reuters this week the activity of Mount Rinjani, which is at the second highest “alert” warning level, remains very active though no evacuation so far.

Mount Rinjani is one of the 130 active volcanoes in the world’s fourth most populous country, which sits along the “Ring of Fire” volcanic belt around the shores of the Pacific Ocean. It last erupted in 2010.

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