• Bali officials still optimistic about reaching ambitious target of 5.5 million foreign tourists in 2017, despite volcano eruption

    Mount Agung volcano looms in the background of a Balinese Hindu tempe in the Kubu subdistrict of Karangasem Regency in Bali on September 26, 2017. Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP

    Tourism officials remain optimistic that Bali will reach its ambitious annual foreign arrivals target, despite a minor volcanic eruption on the island this week.

    Mount Agung shot up a black cloud of smoke, 700 meters into the air on Tuesday evening, in what was a phreatic or steam blast, eruption. The eruption came after months of close watch on the volcano, which had been on the highest “danger” level for an eruption from Sept. 22 to Oct. 29.

    Even after the eruption, the volcano was not upgraded back up from level III (standby), though an orange aviation alert was issued.

    But despite reports of declining tourism numbers during the many weeks of increased volcanic activity from Agung over the past several months, as tourists ponder if they should cancel their trips for fears of safety or travel elsewhere because of insurance risks, the numbers are still apparently enough for Bali to reach its 2017 goal.

    Bali Tourism Office head AA Gede Yuniartha Putra said the island province has seen a 25 percent increase of foreign arrivals up through September 2017, when compared to the same period last year.

    “Until October, we’ve already reach around 5 million of our target of 5.5 million. And that’s with two more months in the year. Per day, on average, there are 15,000 tourists coming to Bali. In one month, that means 450,000 tourists, so that’s 900,000 for two months. So we can exceed the target,” Putra said on Wednesday, as quoted by Bali Post.

    “From August to September, there was a decrease in tourist visits by about 15 percent,” Putra said.

    But Putra speculates that a lot of people only delayed their trips to Bali during in anticipation of a volcanic eruption—rather than flat out canceling.

    “Cancellation is not easy. If you cancel, you cannot get your money back. So in my opinion, tourists were just delaying, and maybe that’s causing the decline in numbers,” he explained.

    Putra says stakeholders in the Bali hospitality industry are trying to make it clear to prospective tourists that Bali is still safe to travel to and enjoy, for those beyond the six to seven and a half exclusion zone of the Karangasem volcano, which is located about 75 kilometers from the popular tourist hub of Kuta. 

    Meanwhile, Bali’s deputy governor, Ketut Sudikerta has been appealing to the community to remain calm about Mount Agung.

    “I encourage everyone to be calm and careful facing the Agung disaster alert. Our disaster team is already there to monitor the progress,” he said.

    Sources: https://coconuts.co/bali/news/bali-officials-still-optimistic-reaching-ambitious-target-5-5-million-foreign-tourists-2017-despite-volcano-eruption/
    Re-posted by Pande

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