Agung’s eruption worse than Bali bombing, say hoteliers

Impact of Mount Agung's eruption on Bali's tourism segment is being keenly felt

Hoteliers in Bali say the impact of Mount Agung’s eruption is larger than the 2002 Bali bombing, and are crying for more efforts and a bigger promotional budget to recover business losses.

Anak Agung Yuniarta Putra, head of Bali Tourism Office (BTO), said: “When the Bali bombing took place, (Jakarta injected) a budget of 750 billion rupiah (US$56 million today or worth US$81 million in 2002) immediately. But nothing has been offered for Bali’s recovery yet.”

Impact of Mount Agung’s eruption on Bali’s tourism segment is being keenly felt

He stressed the need for the central government to continue promotions overseas to attract international travellers back to the island.

Haryadi Sukamdani, chairman of Indonesia Hotel & Restaurant Association (IHRA), told TTG Asia on the sidelines of the Visit Wonderful Indonesia 2018 launch recently that hotel occupancy post the airport closure was “alarming”.

“The impact is bigger than the Bali bombing. After the bombing, the recovery process could be done right after, while today we still do not know when the eruption is going to end. With travel warnings in place and insurance companies declining protection, it is not easy to convince travellers to come under such circumstances,” he lamented.

While Haryadi declined to mention the current occupancy of IHRA members in Bali, reports reveal that it is between 15 per cent and 25 per cent. This compares with an occupancy of around 80 per cent during the same period last year, according to BTO’s Putra.

In addition, the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA) was quoted by as saying that flights to Bali had declined by 30 per cent as the result of the eruption. INACA’s head of flight affairs, Bayu Sutanto, opined that the trend would continue up to early next year as long as the high alert status of the volcano remains.

Last week, Indonesia’s tourism minister Arief Yahya estimated that there has been a loss of around a million arrivals due to the eruption.

Arief said: “Following the closure of the airport, daily arrivals to Bali was between 3,000 and 9,000 passengers, while average arrivals (on a normal day) is 15,000. This means a loss of around 250 billion rupiah per day.”

The minister has urged for “domestic travellers to spend their holidays in Bali and companies to stage events on the island”.

However, Indonesia’s two major inbound tour operators Panorama Destination and Pacto claimed that the impact on their business was low as the eruption took place during the low season. Although it is now the December holiday season, it is not as big as the June-August peak season.

Marcel Schneider, managing director of Panorama Destination, said: “With the exception of some group cancellations from India, we have had few cancellations. The reason for that might be that the majority of our clients come from European source markets (and this is not the season for Europeans).

“There is never a good moment for this to happen as it will affect the livelihood of lots of people. But in the low season, consequences will hopefully be less severe,” he shared.

Ratty Ning, president director of Pacto, said: “We lost around nine billion rupiah due to the eruption and closure of the airport, (but) that is only about three to four per cent of our total business this year.”

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