Earthquake in Lombok Gives Bleak Perspectives to Tourism

Indonesia, Lombok, earthquake, data

Lombok destruction (source: Reuters)

Tourism in Lombok will face difficult times as earthquake tremors continue at regular interval, destroying not only infrastructure and people’s home but also tourism, one of Lombok’s most important job’s providers…

This is the third time in just a month that Lombok is being hit by an earthquake, plunging the island into disarray. The small island next to Bali lost already 500 people while leaving over 430,000 people homeless. A string of fresh tremors and aftershocks on Sunday- some of them reaching a magnitude of 6.9 brought further damage, killing around 15 people. Most of the new victims died due to the collapse of further construction. According to Indonesia National Disaster Agency ten thousands of home have been destroyed.

Relief agencies now fear that access to food, shelter and clean water is turning insufficient for survivors and the displaced population. Aid organisations have vowed to step up humanitarian assistance on the island while two dozen countries  sent aid -from medicine to financial help- to the island.

Once the situation gets definitely stabilized, reconstruction will be implemented with costs for rebuilding the island estimated to reach now over US$500 million. The Indonesian government appealed to tourists not to cancel their trips in wake of the wave of earthquake -particularly to Bali and Gili Islands (which are part of Lombok), two very popular destination for foreign travellers.

Lombok has emerged as an important tourism destination over the last decade with number of visitors rising sharply following the opening of a new airport in 2012. From 2012, total visitors arrivals tripled growing from 1.6 to 3.1 million in 2016 (latest available data for West Nusa Tenggara province). International arrivals grew at the same pace, jumping from 0.47 million travellers to 1.4 million in 2016. Lombok is one of the ten new destinations considered by the Indonesian government as a “new Bali”.

However, the earthquake is likely to change the rising popularity of the island as cancellations have already been recorded for Lombok but also for Bali. It will at least take probably between six months and a year to see a true recovery of the markets as tourists might feel that Lombok remains a risky destination.

In between, Indonesia Tourism Ministry reactivated its Tourism Crisis Center (TCC) following the earthquakes that struck Lombok on Sunday. Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said in a statement that the center’s main task was to monitor the 3As, namely tourist attractions, amenities and accessibility.

Talking to local online news website, the minister indicated that  TCC’s main focus is to provide accurate information to ensure smooth movements of foreign tourists, through the airport, seaports, bus terminals, roads, basic infrastructure and other utilities.

Visitors to Lombok Domestic International
2010 443,227 282,161
2011 522,684 364,196
2012 691,436 471,706
2013 791,658 565,944
2014 876,816 752,302
2015 1,149,235 1,061,292
2016 1,690,109 1,404,328