The Indonesian island of Bali is eager to attract visitors again after visitor numbers fell in the aftermath of volcanic activity in recent years. Some hotels have slashed prices by more than 50% to try to lure back holiday-makers to the tropical island, which is famous for its sandy beaches and sunshine.
Visitors were put off when East Java’s Mount Raung began erupting in July 2015, sending plumes of volcanic ash east to popular holiday destinations like Bali and Lombok and disrupting flight schedules at Ngurah Rai International Airport. Then last September, authorities warned that an eruption might be imminent, but have now lowered the alert status after scientists found a reduction in the volcano’s activity. “People’s activities, as well as tourism in Bali, have been declared safe and there will be no more disruption related to the volcano at this time,” Indonesian energy minister, Ignasius Jonan, said in a statement.
Authorities now say that 98% of the island is safe and located outside the exclusion zone, which has been reduced to a 6-10km radius. Concerned that lost tourism revenue amounted to US$520/€423 million by the end of 2017, Indonesian tourism minister, Arief Yahya, told the industry not to be afraid to give discounts. Booking site Expedia shows that they have taken him at his word, with some hotels offering 50-60% off room rates.
Melbourne-based travel website The Bali Bible has teamed up with tourism partners to run a competition to win a super-luxury holiday to Bali valued at AU$70,000/US$54,700. Airlines are also helping the situation as Qantas has announced it will operate daily, direct flights between Melbourne and Bali starting on 23 June, while Jetstar has increased its Melbourne to Bali service from ten times weekly to twice daily.
Although some travel insurance policies exclude cover for Mount Agung-related disruptions, the Bali Tourism Board has pledged that visitors won’t be stranded if the airport is required to close again. It has vowed to provide them with transport to an alternate airport free of charge, or a free night of accommodation followed by heavy discounted subsequent nights.