Christmas and New Year is fast approaching. After the past few months of a downturn in tourism, I am sure many tourist operators in Bali were looking towards the Christmas and New Year holiday to stem some of their losses.
So as I write this with the airport currently open and Agung settling down at least for the day, it seems like some people with trips booked to Bali are thinking about their options. Now, I don’t claim any expertise as to how the volcano is going to play out over the next couple of months, but my intuition is telling me that it is going to get worse before it gets better.
I don’t mean to scaremonger, and nothing would make me more happy than to see Mt Agung go back to sleep, but I believe people should avoid traveling to Bali for now. So if you have a holiday booked for Christmas or New Year, you should contact your airline as soon as possible and at least discuss the options you have, such as flying to an alternative destination, or postponing your trip.
If you do need to come to Bali, maybe you should look at flying into an alternative airport such as Surabaya or Jakarta and taking a domestic flight (if available) or traveling overland by bus or rail to Bali. At least you would have a chance of leaving the country in a timely manner if the Bali airport closes again.
I would imagine that with the current situation most insurance companies will not cover you. Check the fine print of your policy if in doubt, or call to confirm.
Bali is well into rainy season and many are reporting that the car/bus trip to Surabaya from Bali which usually takes around 12 hours it taking a great deal longer.
If you have accommodation already booked, contact your travel or online travel agent for options. You might be able to change the booking dates. If the agent is not helpful, try contacting the hotel directly. Most hotel proprietors should be sympathetic to your situation.
Bali tourism has had a campaign going on for the past few months emphasizing that, aside from the immediate area around Agung, Bali is safe for travel. I am not saying it is unsafe to be in Bali right now. The ash is a hazard though, and anyone who has any kind breathing problems such as asthma or emphysema should avoid coming to Bali for now.
I do find it admirable that the tourist visiting Bali over the past couple of months have been doing so to support Bali tourism. I can understand the feeling of people wanting to come to show their support, but people just need to understand the situation and the difficulty of leaving the island if the airport closes again.