Multiple disasters in Indonesia should not discourage Australians from visiting Indonesia, according to experts.
Following the recent 5.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi and 7.0 magnitude earthquake and volcanic eruption in Lombok this year, some Australian tourists in Indonesia have worried about their safety.
The current advice from the Australian Government on the Smartraveller website is to exercise a high degree of caution “in Indonesia overall, including Bali”.
Perth-based Indonesia Institute chairman Ross Taylor said recent disasters in Indonesia had not affected the number of Australian tourists visiting Indonesia.
“I don’t think [disasters] impact Indonesia’s tourism sector very much at all,” Mr Taylor said.
“Looking at the figures this week, numbers [of tourists] are going back to normal.
“If there is any decrease of people going to Bali, it would be because of internal issues such as unemployment and schedule clash.”
Mr Taylor said there were three reasons why Australians still chose to go to Bali anyway, despite all the natural disasters.
“One, there are so many cheap airlines operating on the route between Australia and Bali,” he said.
“Two, Bali is dekat, close by.
“Three, Indonesian Rupiah has depreciated faster than the Australian dollar – when you compare having holiday in Bali compared to Thailand, Bali is now even cheaper.”
Mr Taylor said recent terrorist attacks, exploding volcanoes, and earthquakes did slightly affect Australians’ travel decisions.
Out of all three, earthquakes worried Australians the most, he said.
“Many Australians that I spoke to in Bali said earthquakes worried them more terrorism and volcanoes,” he said.
“[Australians feel] there are things they can do to avoid terrorism and volcanic eruption, such as staying in quieter place.
“With earthquake it’s quite different – there’s exactly nothing you can do.”
Curtin University Geology Professor Chris Elders said earthquakes had always been unpredictable.
“Because it’s so far below the ground – 10 or 20 or 30 kilometres below the surface,” Professor Elders said.
“For instance, in Australia, we can say there’s an earthquake of magnitude six occurs about once every seven and a half years.
“But to say exactly when it will occur or where it will occur is a really difficult thing to tell.”
Indonesia is located within the Pacific Ring of Fire, which makes Indonesia prone to multiple and large earthquakes.
The areas with the highest risk of earthquakes are located along the southern margin of Indonesia, according to Professor Elders.
The regions include Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Timor, Serang, Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea, and Sulawesi.
“Those areas contain a lot of active faults and are all are all places where earthquakes could occur,” he said.
Professor Elders’ advice to Australians travelling to Indonesia was to follow earthquake drills and tsunami warnings.
“You should always be aware that in Indonesia earthquakes and potentially quite large earthquakes can occur,” he said.
“If you feel a very large earthquake, the sensible thing to do is to move away from coastal areas and move to higher ground – irrespective of whether or not there was a warning.”
Indonesian meteorology and geophysics agency (BMKG) public relations head representative Hary Tirto Djatmiko said Indonesia remained a safe and comfortable destination for international tourists to travel to.
“Please come to Indonesia, Mr Djatmiko said.
“The fact that Indonesia is located within the ‘Ring of Fire’ is not something to scare you away, but it is a potential for tourism.
“It is important to note when a natural disaster happens in Indonesia, they do not happen in all parts of Indonesia.”