LOMBOK TOURISM RECOVERY WELL ON TRACK: Ministers Assessed
On Sunday, 16 September, two cabinet Ministers :Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, and Tourism Minister Arief Yahya flew to Lombok to personally inspect and assess for themselves how far recovery efforts have proceeded in the aftermath of the August earthquakes. Upon arrival in Lombok they were met by West Nusatenggara GovernorNTB TGH Zainul Majdi, to then proceed to Gili Trawangan, taking the speedboat from the Teluk Nara pier. Main focus for the inspection was to assess in how far tourist destinations, attractions andfacilities are back in operation to receive the influx of tourists . Inspected were the most popular tourist resorts along the popular Senggigi coast, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air islets off the north western coast of Lombok, and theMandalika beach resort along Lombok’s south coast.
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Upon arrival at Gili Trawangan , it became immediately clear that facilities like cafes and restaurants were already serving customers, while the Cidomo, the traditional horse-drawn vehicles were already busy taking passengers around the island. In order to get the best impression of the island’s condition the ministers decided to tour the island on the Cidomo horse cart.
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After inspection, Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan made the following assessment, as given to the media at the press meeting at Villa Ombak on Gili Trawangan:
On the whole, Gili Trawangan is indeed recovering rapidly, while schedule-wise, it is definitely well on track to operate, since a number of hotels, cafes and restaurants are even now already receiving visitors.
The Cidomo, the typical traditional transport on Gili Trawangan, must be retained and better organized. But the roads should be better paved, which will be implemented by the Ministry of Public Works. The roads could be either asphalted or use paving blocks depending on the assesment of the Public Works Minister. Work on it will start from November this year.
The jetty at Gili Trawangan will also be rebuilt to meet international standards to better sesrve the thousands of tourists who enjoy their holiday on the Gili Islands. It is scheduled for completion by November, as will be the jetty at Senggigi, from which place tourists ferry across from to the Gili Islands.
All amenities have also been inspected, and are divided into three categories, namely : firstly those that are lightly damaged. Secondly, those with average needs for repair, while the third arethose heavily damaged that need rebuilding. In general, however, there are no serious problems, while, as can be seen, a number of hotels are already operating.
Most worrying, however, is the poor management of garbage and the inadequate space for a garbage dump. The dump should cover at least 3 hectares to be able to contain some 10 tons of garbage per day. Its management system should follow the one applied at Labuan Bajo in Flores. The Gili islands must be kept clean, emphasized Minister Luhut.
Fiancial Facilities and Environment Restoration
On his part, Tourism Minister, Arief Yahya informed that actions taken by the Tourism Ministry are the following:
A clear three-point strategy for the speedy recovery of Lombok post the earthquake has been outlined. These are: firstly the recovery from trauma of tourism staff in charge of handling and serving tourists, in particular those working in the province of West Nusatenggara. Secondly, the speedy restoration of the destination itself and attractions, and thirdly, the continued marketing and promotion of Lombok and Sumbawa in all Marts and Events to boost and speed up tourist arrivals .
On Financial aspects, the Indonesian Financial Services Authority (OJK) has agreed to relax rates for the rapid recovery of the tourism industry post the devastating earthquake to include a reduction in electricity and water bills, regional retribution, as well as other facilitations in connection with company capital and bank loans through related banks and agencies, said Minister Arief Yahya.
As regards the 3A’s, (being Accessibility, Attractions and Amenities) of the destination, the Ministry of Tourism has already coordinated with and written to the Ministry of Oceans and Fishery and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to repair damages to the natural environment of the Gili Islands. These include : the restoration of coral reefs around the Gili Islands, and the repair of trekking trails up Mt. Rinjani. We realize that to compile a detailed inventory of damages incurred from the Lombok earthquakes must take time, nonetheless, we will continue to urge the Ministries in charge to repair these as soon as possible.
As for accessibility, Minister Arief Yahya said that he has coordinated with the Minister of Transportation aimed to urge the Ministry to restore damages to accessibility to affected destinations. Priority on the list are the restoration of the Teluk Nara port for crossing to the Gilis, upgrading of the pier at Gili Trawangan, the public pier at Senggigi, the tourist port at Bangsai, as well as the pier at Gili Air.
On his side, outgoing West Nusatenggara Governor TGH M.Zainul Majdi, warmly welcomed and thanked the national government for the swift actions taken for the speedy recovery of Lombok post-earthquake. He believes that a massive promotional campaign is needed for Lombok’s tourism to fully recover in the wake of the disaster. Many facilities that have remained unscathed in the city of Mataram,for instance, are able to organize meetings and conventions.
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