Bali Remains a ‘Safe’ Tourism Destination 2017.11.02

Mt. Agung Bali

Since 22nd September 2017, Mount Agung, the highest mountain in Bali has been given the highest level of alert due to its volcanic activity by the local Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Bureau (BMKG). This impacted to the extend that locals within the radius of 12KM must be evacuated to the safer regency such as Gianyar, Klungkung or Buleleng due to the potential threat it carries. The island, with tourism as it main ‘bread and butter’ has also suffered with cancellation and a meltdown.
However, last Sunday (29th October) we have seen an important change of event, in which this highest level of alert for potential eruption (level 4th) has been lowered to 3rd. The decision was made due to the lowering seismic activity observed in Mount Agung, indicating that, while still observed, it gradually has reduce. This is an important event particularly for those involve in the tourism industry, as the negatif sentiment the island receive due to the potential eruption can now change, with positivism that eruption may not going to happen after all.

Mount Agung: Bali’s highest mountain

With over 3,031 meter above sea level, mount Agung stood highest in the east side of Bali, in the Regency of Karangasem, some 2 hours drive from South of Bali (Denpasar) or similarly 3 hours drive from Kuta/Legian. Separated by around 70km distance in between, the south areas of Bali as the epicenter of tourism is actually well outside the current evacuation limit (observed at 9 km radius). A safe distance well beyond the danger of volcanic eruption.

Unfortunately some of this fact is not properly conveyed to those overseas, and there are serious misinformation to the potential impact of the volcanic eruption. Yes, there are still risk of eruption but the Indonesian and local Bali governnment has worked around the clock to ensure that Tourist as well as us locals are safe and secure in the event of eruption.
As a matter of fact, many of us in Bali almost has zero concern in regards to the potential eruption. Life goes on normally as it should and our celebration of Galungan Day, which fall on the 1st of November 2017 still remains as important as ever. Our immediate concern is our celebration and cultural duty, and Mt. Agung eruption carries almost threat to us. Of course we are wary that in case of eruption, dust and ash will be a major threat but again that depends on the scale of the eruption.
For tourist, there are obviously different consideration in regards to their travel arrangements and bearing those in mind, do allow us to shed some light into the current situation on the ground from the local perspective. Hopefully this fact will change your mind and eventually many will decide to still visit Bali as their next holiday destination.

1. The impact of the Mount Agung Volcanic Eruption

Mount Agung as the highest mountain in Bali and as an active volcano does carries threats of eruption or other catastrophical events (earthquakes, etc). However, the mountain is remotely located in the east areas of the island that eruption itself (depending on the size of course) should not have direct implication to the locals living on the island. There are blast radius which currently observed at 9km, but further outside those radius are considered safe, which tourism destination (especially South Bali) are well over the 70km radius (Kuta for example). When eruption happens, you are in the safe zone and if you are in Sanur / Nusa Dua area, some of the hotel has uninterupted view of the moutain. If the eruptions are minor, it could well be a spectacle instead, as it did with Mount Batur (another active volcano in Bali) which erupted in the year 2000.

2. Airport Closure factors

Public perception still thinks that in case of Mount Agung eruption, the Ngurah Rai international airport will automatically be closed until unforeseeable future. While this partially true, closure of the international airport depends heavily on the weather condition (wind direction for example) and the scale of volcanic ash it spews. In case of wind direction, if the wind blows east-west direction carrying volcanic ashes, a reduced visibility above the International Airport will affect the incoming airplane. Obviously by then, the Ngurah Rai international airport authority will declare the airport be closed. Other scenario may not be so severe and flight may still arrive/depart event with the ongoing eruption.
However in the event of huge eruption and debris, The Indonesian government and the local authority has anticipated contigency plans by providing free land and sea ferries to the nearby International airport (such as Juanda airport in Surabaya and in Lombok) while outgoing flight may also be diverted here. This step is to ensure that those seeking to return to their country can be accommodated by transporting them to the nearest airport and connects their flight hereon.

3. Free temporary stay in Bali

Some hotels and travel agents (please contact directly to your travel specialist) offered minimal to no charge in case of the eruption due to changes of your flight schedule for the first day of your stay (some offered longer stays). There will be discount offered by the hotel and your travel agents (in case you decided to stay longer) which up to 50% of the published rate to ensure that everyone is secure while remain in comfort while waiting for their flight reschedule. This emergency discounts are given to ensure there are no mass panicking due to the event and making sure everyone (particularly tourist) is well accounted for.
This commitment (for discounted hotel rooms) was conveyed by the Indonesian Ministry of tourism as general consent made by the Bali Hotel Association (BHA) that organize the hotel standard conduct (particularly for 4 and 5 star hotels/resorts).

4. The lowering level of Mount Agung potential eruption

As mentioned above, the potential eruption has been reduced from 4th (highest) to 3rd (high). While this is relatively a good news for Bali as 80% of our economy still heavily depended on Tourism, it is relatively still unsafe to travel under the 9 km radius from the Mt. Agung. Please refrain your thoughts of climbing this majestic mountain or visiting the famous Mother Temple of Besakih for the time being, as access to some of the historical site are limited.
However, with the reduce level of potential eruption, it is almost safe to claim that the potential eruption has begun to cease down. We certainly hope that this trend continues and soon, those evacuated from the area can soon return to their respective homes.

From the above information, we can safely conclude that Bali remains a safe tourism destination since the tourist areas are well outside the danger zone. Our hope is that there are positive sentiments due to the lowering of the potential eruption level and for those with plans to visit the island, please remain updated with the accurate information and always find a refutable source, as there are wealth of articles out there with no reference to the ground fact. Remain positive with your holiday plans to Bali and hopefully you can still see it through.

Happy traveling and see you in Bali.  ;-)


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