Indonesia tries to assure tourists Bali is safe as volcano rumbles

Thousands of villages have been evacuated from areas near Mount Agung, which has been trembling since last month. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Indonesian government is trying to convince tourists across the globe that the resort island of Bali is a safe destination despite the increased activity of Mount Agung, which has been trembling since last month.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from villages near the volcano, and the authorities have warned tourists and residents to avoid camping or hiking within a 6km radius of the crater.

In efforts to convince tourists, the Tourism Ministry has started to organise "familiarisation trips" (fam trips) for travel writers and journalists in Bali.

The ministry has invited nine journalists from China, one of the largest contributors of tourists to Indonesia, to visit the island.

"With the fam trips, we want to convince tourists that Bali is a safe place to visit," the Tourism Ministry's official in charge of Asia-Pacific market development Vinsensius "Vinsen" Jemadu said in Jakarta on Tuesday (Oct 24), as reported by

This year, the government is set to welcome 15 million tourists from across the country, 2 million of whom are expected to come from China.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) recorded that 1.48 million Chinese tourists arrived in Indonesia in the period from January to August this year. The number is 54.78 per cent higher than the figure for the corresponding period last year.

There is not yet any data about the decrease in tourist arrivals, but hotels in Bali have started to report a number of postponements of their guests' arrivals, following the increase in Mount Agung's activity .

Indonesia straddles the Pacific Ring of Fire, where several tectonic plates meet and cause 90 per cent of the world's seismic activity, and has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.

A series of eruptions at Mount Agung between 1963 and 1964 killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds.

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