Indonesia moves to dispel fears of Mt Agung

Following reports on Mt Agung eruption warnings, the Republic of Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism is stepping up to address “misinformation” that has dented tourism business for the island of Bali.

The ministry’s director for Asia Pacific Tourism Promotions, Vinsensius Jemadu, told TTG Asia in an interview that since the initial reports on Mt Agung’s rumblings, Bali’s tourism numbers have dipped 15 to 20 per cent, especially between late-September and early-October.

Misreporting has caused a drop in visitors to Bali

He clarified: “The situation in Bali is not as dangerous as what has been reported in the media. Even if the worst had happened, it would only affect an area within the radius of 12km – most tourist destinations in Bali are located 70km to 75km from Mt Agung.”

Earlier this month, the Indonesian government lowered the volcano’s eruption status from “dangerous” to “alert”, and arrivals have “rebounded” since then, said Vinsensius.

Still, to prevent further misreporting, the ministry is employing a social media strategy to better communicate the island’s current situation.

He explained that this will be done via “viral” posts by the media and key opinion leaders.

The ministry is also intensifying cooperation with related ministries, local government bodies and local communities to enhance tourism services – such as evacuation procedures, travel incentives and other facilities – in case of emergency situations.

As inbound tourism becomes spotlighted as a national priority, the Indonesian government is also “aggressively promoting” other destinations as “new Balis”, to which Bali visitors can hop, Vinsensius said.

The new Balis Vinsensius referred to are 10 new destinations the ministry hopes to nurture. They are Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Tanjung Kelayang (Belitung), Tanjung Lesung (Banten), Kepulauan Seribu (Jakarta), Borobudur (Jogjakarta-Solo-Semarang, Central Java), Mount Bromo (East Java), Mandalika (Lombok), Komodo National Park (East Nusa Tenggara), Wakatobi National Park (Southeast Sulawesi) and Morotai (North Maluku).

Efforts include giving a Special Economic Zone status to places such as Tanjung Lesung, Mandalika and Morotai, to entice investors to develop infrastructure there.

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