Tourists are leaving the surfers’ paradise of Bali after another Indonesian volcano Mount Sinabung erupted on Sunday. The volcano, located on North Sumatra, was spurting lava and ash 2.5km into the sky, forcing thousands of villagers to evacuate.
Bali is in a state of emergency after concerns that Mount Agung would also erupt, leaving some tourists questioning if a visit is worth the risk.
The volcano, which is located 70km inland from the popular Kuta beach, is emitting regular volcanic tremors (220 earthquakes around Mount Agung in one night). With white smoke clouding the scenic backdrop of Mount Agung 140,000 people have been evacuated within a 7.5 mile radius. Over 1500 tourists have also fled the island since the high alert was set.
Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country in the world (about 130). The last time Mount Agung erupted in 1963 approximately 1,000 people were killed.
Needless to say Indonesians are on edge and they’re not the only ones. Several countries, including Australia, Singapore, and the United States, have issued travel advisories alerting travelers to the risk. Many hotels are receiving cancellations due to the alert.
The tourist industry of Bali is feeling the impact of these premonitions the most. In Tulamben, a village on Bali’s east coast within the danger zone, all hotels have shut down and in Amed (just outside 7.5 mile radius), more than 180 hotels have emptied of tourists. There was not a single tourist in sight on Friday.
With the potential for an eruption to last a year, Bali’s surf industry could be in jeopardy.
“The last time there was an eruption they said it lasted one year and we can’t imagine that.” Made Pasaka, a dive instructor, told The Guardian “If it is the same again what are we going to do? We need to have a plan B.”
Bali gets about 3.7 million tourists including wave-hunters eager to see what the warm waters have to offer. However the Balinese government are insisting the island is safe for travel.
Bali’s airport is currently still in operation, however provisions have been made should this change, with flight companies carrying more fuel. On top of this the Indonesian government has assured travellers that they will extend their visas should they end up stranded on the island.