Lombok is set to receive an influx of Australian tourists
INDONESIA’S West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) is set to receive an influx of Australian tourists when low-cost carrier AirAsia officially opens its new route in February 2019.
The route will connect Lombok, an Indonesian island east of Bali, and Perth in Australia.
In July 2018, Lombok was struck by a series of earthquakes.
The first, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, struck West Nusa Tenggara and Lombok on July 29. Then on Aug 5, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Lombok again, flattening homes and destroying bridges.
The Indonesian idyll continued to be shaken by aftershocks for days after.
It was an extremely worrying predicament for businesses in Lombok, which also consists of the pristine Gili islands, as tourism is the top contributor to the local economy for the destination.
Lombok suffered at least US$437 million worth of damage, in addition to the loss of income suffered by independent businesses relying on tourism, but it has since gotten back up on its feet.
According to NTB governor Zulkieflimansyah, the direct flight aimed to increase the number of foreign tourists in Lombok and Sumbawa.
kompas.com quoted him as saying that NTB ‘s tourism recovery after the earthquake might speed up once the new route and additional flights to and from Lombok International Airport were realized.
“We have massively promoted [NTB tourism] to [create] the awareness that Lombok and Sumbawa are safe to visit,” he said.
AirAsia’s upcoming Lombok-Perth route will utilize jets which have a capacity of 180 passengers each and half the seats will be covered by the provincial government, with funding from Indonesia’s Tourism Ministry.
The arrangement will reportedly last six months. It will then be reevaluated once passenger numbers increase and stability returns.
Meanwhile, Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has encouraged people to hike Lombok’s Mount Rinjani, reassuring that it is safe for travelers following the multiple earthquakes that rocked the island.
Mount Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia and a popular spot for trekking tours, although it is not for novice hikers or casual travelers.
Following the earthquakes, it was announced that Mount Rinjani will be closed indefinitely for safety reasons as cracks were found in the area which will make it prone to landslides.
But the natural wonder is ready to welcome visitors.
“Climbing to Mount Rinjani is now open for tourists and nature lovers,” Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo wrote on his Instagram.
“Let’s take a trip to NTB, enjoy the beauty of nature, waterfalls, and savanna, along the road to the summit of Mount Rinjani.”
“In short, Lombok is safe to visit.”