Indonesia’s Bali faces Natural Disasters

The tsunami that left more than 400 dead on the coast of the Sonda Strait last month calls into question the economic future of this and other regions that want to boost tourism in that country, catalogued as mega-diverse due to its richness in fauna and flora.

With its beaches, its volcano on the horizon and its rhinoceros sanctuary, Tanjung Lesung in Indonesia aspire to be a “new Bali”, but natural disasters could put an end to its ambition. The tsunami that killed more than 400 people on the coast of the Sonda Strait last month calls into question the economic future of this and other regions that want to boost tourism.

In Tanjung Lesung, the tsunami arrived at night, without warning, after the collapse of part of the Anak Krakatoa volcano. More than a hundred people who were at the Tanjung Lesung Beach Hotel died and other establishments were devastated, including beach bungalows.

“Catastrophes can arrive anywhere in Indonesia,” he told AFP on a recent visit to the city. “Tsunami warning systems are needed, especially in tourist areas, and we are going to install them,” he said.

However, the tsunamis caused by volcanoes, unlike those caused by earthquakes, leave the authorities very little time to notify the population. In the city of Palu, the city most affected by the earthquake and tsunami in the Celebes, tsunami warning systems did not work since 2012 due to lack of budget or technical problems.

It was the case of the last tsunami, which was only detected when the wave had already reached the coasts of Java and Sumatra. “Now it will still be more difficult to promote the area because the buildings are destroyed and the volcano is more active, ” says Tedjo Iskandar, a tourism specialist who works in Jakarta.

Last year about 42% of the 14 million foreign tourists who travelled to Indonesia went to Bali, which meant revenues of 17,000 million dollars. The aim is to attract investors from China and Singapore, among others, to bring the number of annual tourists to 20 million.

The list also includes the temple of Borobudur, the paradisiacal island of Belitung, the island of Lombok, Lake Toba, Sumatra, the spectacular Bromo volcano or the Komodo national park, where the famous dragons live. But the tsunami could call into question these investment plans, such as the $ 4 billion planned for Tanjung Lesung.

Lombok was also affected this summer by an earthquake that left more than 500 dead and led tourists to flee en masse. A few weeks before the wreck of a ferry on Lake Toba left about 200 dead and missing. At the end of 2017, the Agung volcano regained its activity and left thousands of tourists stranded in Bali.

In the second half of 2018, the number of tourists in Indonesia sank as a result of the earthquakes in Lombok, an earthquake and tsunami in the Celebes Islands and a plane crash of a Lion Air flight between Jakarta and Pangkal Pinang, A transit locality for tourists going to Belitung. The accident left 189 dead.

Indonesia is one of the countries in the world with the most natural catastrophes because it is located in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of strong seismic and volcanic activity. The most recent catastrophes are proof of the lack of preparedness for the risk of natural catastrophes.