Operator blames ‘unwarranted’ volcano fears for Bali booking slump

Operator blames ‘unwarranted’ volcano fears for Bali booking slump

An “unwarranted fear factor” over travel to Bali has been sparked by irresponsible reporting and comments on social media concerning an active volcano on the Indonesian holiday island.

Khiri Travel Indonesia reported an overall 20% slump bookings since Mount Agung started to show increased signs of activity in the third week of September.

The company’s general manager Herman Hoven said: “There has been no explosion. There may never be. And the vast majority of Bali’s tourism activities take place between 30 and 60 kms [18 and 37 miles] from Mt Agung, at a safe distance.

“Irresponsible reporting and comments on social media have created an unwarranted fear factor while the situation on the ground in Bali remains calm and tourism operators remain fully open for business.”

No major travel advisories have been issued recommending tourists to cancel. Instead, overseas governments advise tourists to monitor reliable media reports and follow advice from Balinese provincial authorities.

However, travel advisories admit that volcanic ash clouds may cause aviation disruption if Mount Agung erupts.

“That remains a distant and hypothetical scenario,” said Hoven. “At the moment it is safe here, so tourists should contact their tour operator to confirm travel plans – and stick to their intention to visit Bali.”

He added: “We would not tell our clients to visit if we thought it was not safe.”

Tourism accounts for around 40% of the local economy on Bali, although reliable statistics are hard to find.

A social media campaign has been started to support Balinese tourism and show tourists in Bali having a great time, despite speculation about Mount Agung.

The #iaminBaliNOW campaign, launched by Bali-based Alex Tusk, the founder of bookgreener.com and RefillMyBottle.com, is modelled on the crowd-sourced social media campaign that Nepal used in 2015 following the major earthquake there.

Tusk said: “Persistent misinformation is threatening the livelihood of many entrepreneurs, their staff and families who rely on tourism income in Bali – not only those directly in the tourism sector but also, for example, farmers, who supply restaurants and hotels.”

#IaminBaliNOW aims to address the issue head on with the facts.

“#IaminBaliNow is a crowd-sourced, social media campaign to showcase Bali as it is now, with reliable, up-to-the date information, facts, photos and stories,” said Tusk.

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