Thursday, November 30, 2017


 Jakarta, Nov 30 , 2017 (Antara) - The I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport reopened on Nov 29 at 3 p.m. local time following a temporary shutdown since Nov 27 morning, as its airspace is currently free of ash from Mount Agung.
         Volcanic ash has drifted in the southeast direction from its earlier southwest movement toward the airport. Thus, activities have returned to normal at the airport. In addition, the Volcano Observation Notice for Aviation has downgraded its color code from red to orange.
         However, the aviation authorities have urged all airlines to remain vigilant and conduct flight operations in accordance with the standard operating procedures.
        Owing to the three-day closure of Bali airport on Nov 27-29, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has urged all stakeholders in the tourism industry in Bali to provide support, better services, and facilities to tourists compelled to prolong their stay on the island following the eruptions of Mount Agung.
         He also called on all parties to understand the situation that had led to the previous closure of Ngurah Rai international airport.
         "We must show empathy towards those affected. Imagine if it were to happen to us or our families. It would be highly commended if hotels, the industry, and the government are able to sincerely help them," he remarked.
         The minister expressed hope that the visitors would also be impressed if Bali was able to provide better services during the disaster.

         Yahya lauded the immigration service in Bali for facilitating visa services. Eight foreign tourists from the US, France, and Germany as well as four from Russia had visited the immigration service counter on Nov 27 to extend their visas, which were due to expire that day, and their request had immediately been fulfilled free of charges.
         Yahya has also called on hotels to offer special discounts of up to 50 percent to tourists during the natural disaster.
         Airport operators in Ngurah Rai, Lombok, and Banyuwangi are also urged to constantly update information on the opening or closure of their airports and on their other services.
         Located in Karangasem, Bali Island, the 3,142-meter-high Mount Agung has been rumbling since August and had erupted on Nov 26.
        Records since 1800 reveal that Mount Agung had experienced four mega eruptions, respectively in 1908, 1823, 1843, and 1963.     
    Meanwhile, the Indonesian authorities have taken precautionary measures against the eruptions of Mount Agung; hence, the Bali airport authorities have arranged services, including alternative means of transportation, for passengers whose flights were cancelled owing to the volcanic eruptions.
         At least 445 flights were canceled, thereby affecting the travel plans of some 89 thousand passengers.
         The local authorities are serving passengers seeking a refund of their ticket money, rescheduling of their flights, or changing their flight route via nearby airports, Yanus Suprayogi, the general manager of state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I, said.
         Some four thousand meal boxes were provided to international passengers and two thousand others to domestic passengers who were stranded.
         At least 300 buses have been deployed to transport passengers keen on going to nearby airports via the Gilimanuk seaport, according to Agung Hartono, head of the Bali and West Nusa Tenggara transportation management center, following a coordination meeting held at Bali airport's Emergency Operation Center on Nov 26.
         Bali remains Indonesia's prima donna in the tourism sector. The tourism ministry is optimistic of recording 17 million foreign tourist arrivals in the country in 2018 and 20 million in 2019.
         The Bali tourism office is optimistic that the island would exceed its set target of 5.5 million tourist arrivals this year.
         "From January to October this year, the figure was over five million. If 15 thousand foreign tourists visit Bali per day, the number of visitors in two months will reach 900 thousand. Hence, the target has been surpassed," Anak Agung Yuniartha Putra, head of the Bali tourism office, said recently.
         The largest number of tourists visiting Bali is from China, followed by Australia, and India in the third position.
         Bali recorded a 25 percent increase in the number of tourist arrivals from January to October this year as compared to the same period in 2016.
         The Badung District Tourism Office has made assurance to domestic and international travel agents that Bali remains safe to visit despite the disaster, except in the danger zone set by the authorities following the volcanic eruption.   
    Despite the natural disaster, 98 tourist attractions in Bali reportedly remain safe, and only two percent -- Besakih, Tulamben, and Tirta Gangga located in Karangasem District -- are affected.
        "We will continue to provide updates on the developments of Mount Agung to overseas travel agents. Currently, tourist destinations in Bali, in general, and Badung, in particular, remain safe for visit," I Made Badra, head of the Badung tourism office, noted.
        Press releases on updates related to Mount Agung have been sent, among other things, to India, which is viewed as a potential market for Bali's tourism.
        Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika had earlier urged the public to stay calm and follow procedures outlined by the Bali disaster mitigation office in the wake of magmatic eruptions of Mount Agung.
        People living within 10 kilometers towards the north, north east, southeast, south, and southwest of the volcano have been advised to evacuate.
        Villages located in the danger zone are Ban, Dukuh, Baturinggit, Sukadana, Kubu, Tulamben, Datah, Nawakerti, Pitpit, Bhuana Giri, Bebandem, Jungutan, North Duda, Amerta Bhuana, Sebudi, Besakih, and Pempatan.

(T.F001/A/BESSR/O. Tamindael) 30-11-2017

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