JAKARTA - Indonesia's Tourism Minister Arief Yahya is urging hotels and airlines operating in Bali to give special discounts to tourists who have been stranded following the closure of airports in Denpasar and Lombok.
The minister himself was unable to fly to Bali after the Indonesian authorities raised the threat warning from Mount Agung volcano to the highest level on Monday (Nov 27).
"Make sure all passengers who get flight cancellations and are forced to check back into hotels are given special rates of up to 50 per cent," he said in a statement issued on Monday (Nov 27).
The I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport was to be closed from 7am local time on Monday until 7am local time on Tuesday (Nov 28).
The airport said in a statement that 445 flights - 196 international and 249 domestic - and 59,000 passengers had been affected.
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said the closure of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport could last longer than 24 hours.
The airport on nearby Lombok island - also a popular tourist destination east of Bali - closed on Sunday as ash from Mount Agung headed in that direction, but reopened early Monday.
The minister also instructed low-cost airlines not apply flight cancellation charges or rescheduling charges.
"This is a very difficult situation for Bali's tourism industry, as well as for Lombok and Indonesia," Mr Arief said in a statement.
He also told the Immigration Office to grant one-month visa extensions to affected tourists, reported Jakarta Globe.
"Give sympathy to Bali tourists so they will not be disappointed and will come back to Bali because of its kindness and friendliness," he said.
Mr Arief has called on tourists in Bali not to panic amid the increased volcanic activity of Mount Agung.
Volcanologists have warned of a "very high likelihood" for a larger eruption, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said in a statement on Monday. The volcano expelled ash clouds as high as 4,000m above the crater and residents as far as 12km away reported low explosive noises and flares.
Indonesia's Ministry of Transportation and the Bali government will bring the tourists stranded at the airport to the nearest international ports.