Hit by two devastating earthquakes in July and August this year, Indonesia’s Lombok is determined to rebuild traveller and trade buyer interest, including a strong representation at ITB Asia 2018 last week to achieve this goal.
More than 10 destination stakeholders attended the show to put forth a united front in convincing trade buyers that most parts of Lombok are unaffected and safe for travel.
Lalu Abdul Hadi Faisal, deputy chairperson of West Nusa Tenggara Tourism Promotion Board and chairman of Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association West Nusa Tenggara Chapter, said most hotels in Lombok are operating as usual, with only some closed for renovations.
Lalu added that 80 per cent of hotels and homestays in the popular Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno areas are gradually recovering, while the rest are unaffected by the disaster.
He detailed a two-pronged recovery plan: phase one, running from September to December, focuses on rebuilding market confidence in Lombok; phase two, from January to December 2019, emphasises on selling activities.
He said: “In September we invited travel agents from (Indonesia) for fam trips, and this month we will have agents from South-east Asia, Australia and the Middle East to come and see for themselves the conditions in Lombok.”
Masruroh Arifin Nurdin, director for marketing development-Singapore, Thailand and Indochina with the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, said Lombok’s presence at ITB Asia 2018 was part of a larger destination recovery effort.
The national government is committed to bringing Lombok back on its feet, with support programmes and a recovery budget valued at Rp20 billion (US$1.3 million).
Indonesia’s minister of tourism, Arief Yahya, who formed a post-quake working team, said the authorities have a strategy to promote the unaffected parts of Lombok and to aid recovery in affected areas.
In addition to a presence at ITB Asia 2018, the tourism ministry is taking a sales mission to Singapore on October 26, and to Thailand on November 4.
While serious recovery efforts are in place, Masruroh is quick to point out that they were not due to dented tourist arrival numbers. She explained that the government regards Mandalika resort area in Lombok as a priority destination, and is determined to build the collective region of Lombok up as one of the leading tourist lures of Indonesia.
Indeed, ITB Asia buyers told TTG Asia that they are still eager to sell Lombok.
Although SH Oei, director of Asfalea, the Netherlands, is “skipping Lombok for now and recommending clients to visit Bali or Flores and Komodo instead”, he hopes to visit the destination by early 2019 to assess the ground situation.
Shwee Zin Htet, business development associate of Spreetrip in Singapore, said: “We have been sending travellers to Bali and are looking for a new destination. We are interested in Lombok as the next destination to offer.”
Shwee is looking forward to seeing more attractive packages in the marketplace as Lombok’s promotion resumes, as she feels Bali is becoming more expensive.
– Additional reporting by Mimi Hudoyo and Xinyi Liang-Pholsena