Lombok tourism takes small steps towards earthquake recovery
Rachmadea Aisyah (The Jakarta Post)
Fri, March 1, 2019
Douglas was aware of the series of earthquakes that hit Lombok in western Nusa Tenggara six months ago when he decided to visit the island during his six week vacation.
Originally from California, United States, the 30-year-old electronics salesman is no stranger to tremors.
“In terms of fear of not wanting to come here, where we live, we have earthquakes very regularly, but we have different building structures, so when an earthquake does occur, less damage is done.” , Douglas, who declined to reveal his full name. , said as he sat near the beach on Gili Trawangan, a small island off the coast of Lombok.
Gili Trawangan, a popular tourist spot with its neighboring islands of Gili Meno and Gili Air, was devastated after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Lombok on August 5, with the majority of the island’s buildings destroyed.
When Jakarta Post Visited the island recently, construction workers were busy rebuilding the resorts. Small piles of debris left by the earthquake were still visible in the corners of the island.
The island seemed empty. Beachside cafes, bike rentals, and scuba diving sites were mostly deserted as their owners looked around, hoping to attract the few passers-by.
“It’s been almost a month since we toured the Gilis […] We were in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, but it’s the most beautiful place, ”said Douglas, who was traveling with his 30-year-old girlfriend, Rebecca. “I think the island is also trying to change its image by just partying at low prices [into] more on enjoying nature.
Rebecca agreed with Douglas, saying that they had decided to spend a lot of time in the Gilis because it was easy for them as outsiders to get there.
“This place is much nicer than anywhere else [similar we have visited]”Rebecca added.” We’re already talking about coming back here and we haven’t even finished this trip. “
The number of tourists to Lombok has plummeted following the earthquake. The Ministry of Tourism said that between September and December 2018, the figure fell 66% compared to the same period the year before.
According to Emanuel Prasodjo, managing director of Aston Sunset Beach in Gili Trawangan, the average number of tourists arriving on the island each day before the earthquake could reach 3,000 people. Now that number is around 900.
“Foreign tourists who come here say they’re not as scared of earthquakes as they are of terrorists, but we assume domestic tourists are still scared of the disaster,” Emanuel said.
In Gili Trawangan and other famous destinations such as Mandalika Beach, Merese Hill and Seger Hill Beach, the To post found almost no local tourists.
The Tourism Ministry confirmed that the number of domestic travelers visiting Lombok has dropped significantly, although it has not released official data.
Emanuel recalled that tourism workers at Gili Trawangan began evacuating guests from the island after receiving an SMS tsunami alert from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) last August. No sirens or emergency bells were heard beforehand, he said.
“Even now, months after the earthquakes, we have not received any training on disaster mitigation from the central government,” he added. “Of course, that [August’s earthquake] was the biggest disaster we have ever had here, but we have had many smaller earthquakes in previous years. “
By February, around 50% of Gili Trawangan’s 500 hotels and restaurants had resumed normal operations.
Nia Niscaya, Tourism Ministry assistant for international marketing, said the Lombok earthquake, as well as the central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami in September and the Lion Air crash in October, had significantly affected the number of Indonesian tourists in 2018.
In addition to this, Indonesia also saw the eruptions of Mount Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait, Mount Agung in Bali, and the Banten Tsunami in the same year.
“We aimed to attract 17 million international tourists last year, but we only reached 15.8 million,” Nia said at a press conference. “This year, however, we believe we can attract 20 million tourists, as difficult as that may be to achieve.”
The government, she said, had rolled out numerous measures to promote Lombok and other destinations in Indonesia following the series of disasters, for example by offering all-in-one tourist packages, maximizing the promotion in Indonesian tourist centers around the world. as encouraging tourists from neighboring countries to visit Indonesia.
“People from neighboring countries have a geographical and cultural proximity to us, so it is much easier for us to contact them and it is cheaper for them to visit our destinations,” added Nia.