While some in the trade are concerned about the impact of cancellations, others are looking to a rosy future.
Understandably, the earthquake-hit Indonesian island of Lombok is starting to see countless travel cancellations after two major quakes just a week apart and hundreds of tremors and aftershocks – including a strong one this morning that brought down more buildings.
But the travel trade is determined to propagate the message that most parts of the popular destination remain unaffected and are safe for travel.
“[The first earthquake] did not have too much of an impact, and visitors continued to come,” Dewantoro Umbu Joka, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) for West Nusa Tenggara recalls to TTG Asia.
“But with the [second one measuring] a magnitude of seven on Richter scale, it’s become a concern. ASITA members report receiving many cancellations.”
He is particularly concerned about the Gili Islands, as around 80% of international travellers to Lombok also visit the trio of islands.
Estimating a loss of around 100,000 direct arrivals to Lombok due to the earthquakes, Indonesia’s tourism minister Arief Yahya assured that the government would try to keep up with its international arrivals targets by accelerating recovery in disaster-affected areas.
Lombok bookings will recover in two months, thinks Lalu Abdul Hadi Faishal, chairman of the Indonesia Hotel & Restaurant Association for West Nusa Tenggara.
“I think it’s normal to have lots of cancellations for a few days. This is a force majeure, everyone panics. But this condition will not last long. In fact, it can be faster than expected because the central government is involved directly in handling the situation,” he said.
“This is not the first time Lombok has been hit by a disaster. The experience of handling disasters, including the quick response to make sure clients are safe, makes Lombok tourism recover quickly.”
To assist with the recovery, the hotel association already plans to launch promotions to key source markets, including Europe, in September.