Imran Ameer booked tickets to spend 10 days on the beaches of Lombok, near Bali, with his pregnant wife and 17-month-old daughter. Then Mount Agung in eastern Bali erupted, forcing the 28-year-old from Melbourne to scrap that plan.
He’s not alone. With a possibility of the volcano erupting again any time, scores of hotel rooms and flights to Bali have been left empty into the year end, casting doubt on one of the resort-island’s busiest seasons.
Five numbers show what’s at stake:
Tourism is important not just for Bali but also for Indonesia’s economy. The nation’s tourism revenue - much of which is generated on the resort island - accounted for 4.5 percent of gross domestic product last year, figures from the Tourism Ministry show.
The ministry says it’s maintaining its projections for the contribution to rise to 5.5 percent this year and 6.5 percent in 2018.
About 25 percent of hotel rooms in Bali are currently occupied, compared with as much as 80 percent in December last year, according to Tjok Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, chairman of Bali’s association of hotels and restaurants. The island’s tourism industry loses about 250 billion rupiah ($18 million) a day as a result of hotel room and other cancellations, Sukawati said.
Tourism in Bali - named the world’s top travel destination by TripAdvisor this year - directly and indirectly accounts for about 70 percent of the island’s income, according to the tourism board.
Indonesian flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia canceled more than 300 flights because of closures at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport and the Lombok International Airport after the volcanic eruptions. Services to Bali account for 30 percent of the airline’s daily total.
Garuda lost about $1 million a day when the airports were shut, according to estimates by Shukor Yusof, founder of Endau Analytics, an aviation consulting firm. Shukor estimated that PT Lion Mentari Airlines, Indonesia’s biggest airline, lost about $500,000 a day.
Almost a million people had been expected to visit Bali in December and January combined, said Anak Agung Gede Yuniartha Putra, the chief of Bali’s tourism office. Now, expectations are for no less than half the earlier projection. About 70 percent of Bali’s income comes either directly or indirectly from tourism, according to the tourism board.