While the situation with an erupting volcano in the eastern
portion of Bali could change at any time, most tourist activities and locations
on the island were open on Monday, said Diane Embree of Bali Barong Tours in
Westlake Village, Calif.
On Monday afternoon, Embree said she had spoken with ground
operators on the island earlier that day.
"People who are already there, their tours and
activities are going along as scheduled with the exception of the area right
around the volcano in eastern Bali," Embree said. "Some of the
temples and other places people might visit in eastern Bali would be within the
There are several popular diving areas located in the
evacuation area that are closed, she said, but many popular tourist areas --
like the southern beach areas and Ubud, an art and cultural center toward the
middle of the island -- are open.
However, Embree stressed that could change quickly.
Travel to and from the island is a different story. Numerous
flights have been canceled and the international airport is closed. It is tentatively
scheduled to reopen on Wednesday at 7 a.m. local time.
Embree said the government has arranged for buses to transport
tourists to the harbor at Gilimanuk, where they can take a ferry to East Java. But
the bus takes 4 to 5 hours to get to the harbor from most tourist areas on Bali,
and transportation from the harbor in East Java to an airport could take
another several hours. The ferry ride itself is around one hour depending on
water and weather conditions, Embree said.
"The bottom line is, if you really had your heart set
on it, could you get to Bali or out of Bali? Yes, but it could end up taking a
couple days either way," she said.
One positive thing has been the recent rainy weather: It has
been keeping the amount of volcanic ash in the air relatively low, according to
Embree's sources on the ground, but that, too, could change quickly.
Embree does not have clients in Bali, but several
honeymooning couples were set to travel there this week, and another handful of
clients are scheduled to fly to the island next month.
"Right now, what I'm finding is that most of my clients
who are due to depart for Bali this week are canceling," Embree said.
Those set to go farther out are still deciding what to do.
Embree herself still intends to take a trip she has planned
in January, but the volcano will ultimately determine her final plans.
The disruption to tourism will have a significant economic
impact on Bali, Embree said.
"Their livelihood depends on tourism. I mean, that is
it for Bali," she said. "They have a few other small industries, but
tourism is [mostly] it, and I think that people are going to probably be --
right or wrong -- choosing to stay away for a while."