The 2019 Perceptual Challenge for Indonesian Tourism
Many Indonesians, and especially Indonesian tourism professionals would have been happy to see the back of 2018. This was a very difficult year for tourism to the country. Tsunamis and earthquakes in Sulaweisi, Lombok and most recently on the West Coast of Java brought death, destruction and disruption to locals and visitors alike. Bali’s Mt Agung occasionally belched ash just to remind Balinese that it remains a potential threat to airline movements as was the vase during late 2017.
In common with many tourism professionals I was shocked to hear about the destruction and casualties caused by the recent tsunami on the West Coast of Java although not surprised. I visited the region back in 1982 and climbed a smoking Anak Krakatoa when its summit was about 120 meters above sea level. My wife and I stayed at Carita Krakatoa Beach resort, one of many resorts inundated by the recent tsumami. During each night of our stay, we watched the flames which arose from what were then relatively benign nightly eruptions. Prior to the December 2018 eruption Anak Krakatoa had grown to an altitude of just over 300 meters. Anak Krakatoa was a remant of the original Krakatoa erpution from 1883. It appeared above the waves of the Sunda Strait (between Java and Sumatra) in 1927 and has been growing in height and ferocity ever since. Clearly it’s growth presented a danger to the West Coast of Java and the east coast of Sumatra. It was always a matter of time when Anak Krakatoa would impact on villages, towns and tourism resorts in West Java. The flat coastlines of West Java were highly vulnerable to a tsunami in the event of a severe volcanic eruption which came to pass in late December 2018.Indonesia can do little to prevent natural disasters (especially volcanos and earthquakes) from occurring but the events of 2018 should be a signal to broaden the promotion of tourism to multiple regions of the country. In recent years Indonesia has gone a long way to improve its emergency management services which saved thousands of people during 2018s spate of natural disasters. Everey crisis has an opportunity and the chief opportunity for tourism in Indonsia is to highlight and develop alternative tourism destinations and experiences within the country. After all Indonesia is a nation with 13,000 islands and many places which are only now beginning to be explored for tourism.