One of the leading tourist destinations in the world has been disrupted in recent weeks by the threat of a volcanic eruption. The volcano is on the north side of Bali, but the impact has been felt across the island. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.
The last time Mount Agung erupted on the island of Bali, John F. Kennedy was in the White House.
It was 1963, and the eruption killed more than a thousand people.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Indonesian government declared a level four alert for the volcano and ordered major evacuations within an “exclusion zone” of seven and a half miles.
The government said that included about 70,000 people from 27 villages.
But more than twice that number evacuated to shelters—fearing an eruption might go further than the government’s estimate.
At the end of last week, the local governor said people beyond that danger zone should return home.
The volcanic activity has not stopped, but scientists say there’s no way to predict when or if the volcano will erupt.
Even though it’s not close to most tourist areas, this is affecting the visitor industry.
The Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association reports about 5,000 travelers have cancelled their island vacation plans for this month – about 20 percent of the normal volume this time of year.
On Wednesday, the governor of Bali urged foreign countries to remove travel warnings that were issued because of the volcano.
He said he spoke to consular officials from more than 30 countries to explain the limited area at risk adding that Bali’s international airport is on the south side of the island – nearly 50 miles away from the volcano.