Saturday, December 23, 2017


Jakarta, Dec 23, 2017 (Antara) - Bali Island has returned to normal after the eruption of Mount Agung, which affected the tourism industry in the one of the world's most famous tourist resorts.
         Before the volcano eruption, Bali received some 15 thousand foreign tourists daily, and during the natural disaster, it dropped to 2 thousand foreign tourist arrivals. Currently, it has increased to 12,300 foreign tourists, or around 80 percent of the normal number.
         The Indonesian Government will carry out a major international tourism promotion to assure the world on the safety for tourist visiting Bali.
         Tourism Minister Arief Yahya stated that the government has given Rp100 billion to the Governor of Bali Province for the promotion.
         Besides, the Tourism Ministry and the Transportation Ministry have discussed plans to improve transportation services for tourists.
         President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Vice President M Jusuf Kalla on Dec 22 chaired a limited cabinet meeting in Bali to assure the world on the safety of Bali and its readiness to receive as many tourists as possible.
         Following the meeting, the government also declared that it had revoked an emergency status of Mount Agung, which is now quite calm.
         The government opined that the emergency status had scared many foreign countries, prompting them to issue a travel warning, travel advisory, or even travel ban, which are unnecessary because most parts of Bali remain safe and unaffected by the eruptions.

         Jokowi instructed the Foreign Affairs Minister and Tourism Ministry to inform foreign ambassadors and travel agents that most of Bali's famous tourist destinations were located far from the danger zone of the active volcano and hence, the mount posed no danger to tourists.
         Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika explained that the emergency status declared by the Bali Administration was meant for domestic administrative purpose in order to speed up the disbursement of emergency funds allocated for victims of natural disaster.
         The Office of the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs has invited foreign representatives in Jakarta to be briefed on the condition in Bali following the volcano eruption.
         The eruptions have badly affected the tourism industry in one of the world's major tourism destinations, causing potential losses to the industry due to the shrinking number of visitors to that island.
         Arif Havas Oegroseno, a Deputy for Maritime Sovereignty at the office of the Coordinating Minister, noted that a meeting was held to brief the foreign representatives about the potential threat of the volcano.
         Attending the meeting were officials of the embassies of Britain, China, Belgium, Germany, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, the Netherlands, France, Qatar, and Morocco.
         "We invited these countries as they are the main places of origin of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia," Oegroseno remarked.
         Geographically, Mount Agung is 65 kilometers from Denpasar and 73 kilometers from the beach area of Nusa Dua.
         In addition, the winds are predicted to blow eastward until March 2018, so that there would be no significant effect of any eruption on the tourist destinations in Bali.
         Arif noted that based on the simulation given by the government on the threat of the volcanic lava, the worst scenario was not as worse as many people had imagined.
         "The simulation is important to give a 'sense of security' for tourist to move to a safer area that is closest to the volcano," he added.
         The foreign representatives are expected to send report of the real condition in Bali to their respective countries in order to enable them to revise their "travel warning."
    "The tourists need to be convinced that they would be safe visiting Bali," he added.
         He explained that the foreign representatives had expressed appreciation for the information and promised to send the information to their respective governments.
         Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Panjaitan has also revealed that a major annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank would be held in Nusa Dua as scheduled next year.
         "There are no plans at all to change the venue," Luhut noted, when visiting a monitoring post of the volcano in Karangasem district, Bali, on Dec 22.
         Meanwhile, the recent eruptions have inflicted economic losses amounting to Rp11 trillion, including Rp9 trillion from the tourism industry.
         "The losses reach Rp11 trillion since the emergency status was declared on Sept 22, 2017. The tourism sector and its derivative have incurred major economic losses," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, noted in Jakarta.
         The losses worth Rp2 trillion were from unpaid debts, as most debtors were affected by the volcanic eruption and were compelled to stay in emergency camps without jobs.
         Several foreign airlines, particularly of China, have planned to postpone their flights to and from Bali until January 2018.
         He affirmed that Bali currently remained safe for tourist visits despite the emergency status of Mount Agung affecting areas within an area of 8 to 10 kilometer radius from the mountain's peak.
         Mount Agung is forecast to remain active in December 2017 until January 2018, similar to that of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra.
         The lava has risen and filled the crater, with volcanic material amounting to 20 million cubic meters.
         However, if there is another eruption of Mount Agung, it will not be as powerful as that in 1963.
         The number of evacuees due to the Mount Agung eruption has reached 72,114 people, who are currently being accommodated in 240 refugee camps.
         Bali remains Indonesia's prima donna in the tourism sector. The Bali tourism office is optimistic that the island would exceed its set target of 5.5 million tourist arrivals this year.

(T.F001/A/BESSR/Bustanuddin) 23-12-2017

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