Bali still on high alert

DENPASAR, 12 October 2017: The situation remains unchanged in Bali, Wednesday, with the threat of a volcanic eruption on Mount Agung still at the highest alert level.

But three weeks after the emergency evacuation of residents began within a 9 km radius of the volcanic mountain, the threat continues to unsettle and disrupt the lives of residents. There are also worries that tourism the island’s economic lifeline with take a tumble.

There have been considerable cancellations of advance bookings and travellers have lost their deposits on bookings or fallen foul of cancellation charges.

According to the latest update posted by the Asian Trails travel office, earlier this week, measures have been taken to guarantee the safety of residents and visitors, while the ongoing monitoring by the Centre for Volcanology of Geological Hazard Mitigation has kept the alert level at the highest (4 out of 4).

There have been impassioned pleas by the travel industry and hotel associations for tourists to continue with their holiday plans and visit the islands. They correctly point out that Mount Agung is 76 km from the main tourists areas on the island and that evacuation and emergency responses are on high alert to ensure visitors are safe.

But there are duty-of-care issues at stake. Travel industry leaders give assurances that communications, airports, transport and evacuation plans are in place to ensure in the event of an eruption visitors can leave safely.  That is not much comfort for travellers who have saved their hard earned cash for a memorable holiday in “magical” Bali.  They will tend to err on the side of caution and postpone their trips.

Travellers from the region, who are familiar with Bali, are more likely to stick with their travel plans.  Some may even be drawn to the island, fascinated by the possibility of witnessing a spectacular volcanic eruption.  But for the island’s residents, the waiting and fears have a catastrophic impact on their lives and the economy.

Asian Trails reports that it has received questions with regards daily tour operations and possible adjustments in travel plans.

It notes that in general, many hotels outside of the safety perimeter and along Bali’s beaches in the south and Ubud have not changed their cancellation polices in line with the perceived threats since the company’s previous update.  Hotels in the evacuation zone area offered refunds and dropped cancellation charges, while hotels further afield refused to budge on the controversial issue.

Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport operates as normal, as do boat and ferry services to the surrounding islands.

The news bulletin assures travel partners that “every possible measure has been taken to give visitors an enjoyable stay on the island and avoid areas that are within the assigned perimeter around Mount Agung.”