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Volcano shakes ominously but operators insist Bali safe

October 17, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Earthquake activity from Bali’s Mount Agung was reported yesterday to have reached its highest level since the volcano rumbled back to life in August – but tourists should keep visiting Bali as it is perfectly safe to do so. That was the recommendation made yesterday by Herman Hoven, general manager of Khiri Travel Indonesia.

The Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation puts the volcano at its highest alert level short of an eruption, the West Australian reported. An earthquake last weekend measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale has been followed by almost 1000 smaller tremors a day.

Hoven, however, played down the threat.

Herman Hoven, Khiri Travel Indonesia

“There has been no explosion,” he said. “There may never be. And the vast majority of Bali’s tourism activities take place between 30 and 60 kilometres from Mt Agung, at a safe distance.”

Hoven said bookings in the Bali tourism sector had dropped by at least 20% across the board since Mt Agung, 3031 metres high, began showing increased signs of activity in the third week of September.

“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,” Hoven pointed out.

Tourism is by far the largest contributor to Bali’s economy, accounting for around 40%, although reliable statistics are hard to find.

Hoven points out that no major government travel advisories have been issued recommending tourists to cancel. Instead, overseas governments, including Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), advise tourists to monitor reliable media reports and follow advice from Balinese provincial authorities.

Travel advisories admit that volcanic ash clouds may cause aviation disruption if Mt Agung erupts.

“That remains a distant and hypothetical scenario,” Hoven said. “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.”

Meanwhile, Bali-based Alex Tusk, founder of bookgreener.com and RefillMyBottle.com, has launched an #iaminBaliNOW social media campaign to support Balinese tourism and show tourists in Bali having a great time now – despite speculation about Mt Agung.

Bali Map

 

The campaign 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,” Tusk said.

 

Alex Tusk of BookGreener.com

So when will Mt Agung erupt? In short, nobody knows – though experts say sooner is more likely than later.

Emeritus Professor Richard Arculus from Australian National University told ABC News on Monday 25 September 2017 there was a high chance the volcano could erupt by the end of that week. It didn’t.

Speaking on that date, Arculus put the odds of eruption: “70% to 80% within days, probably 90% within weeks to months, but I’m reserving that 10% in case it doesn’t happen – so the odds are on, but whether it proceeds to an eruption or not is still uncertain.” See: ‘Don’t worry, be happy!’ advice as Bali volcano shakes

Three weeks have passed since Arculus spoke those words and the alert continues.

Written by Peter Needham

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