"We will carry out a recovery program in a number of tourist sites (in Lombok), housings, and hotels. If the emergency response status ends in the next three weeks, we will do the recovery," Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said here on Tuesday.
According to him, the ministry has three programs to overcome the causes of the earthquake that shook Lombok Island and its surroundings, namely building a crisis center to provide information, providing services to tourists, and recovering tourist sites.
"This morning we have managed to evacuate 200 tourists, with the help of the Indonesian Armed Forces and the Police, from Gili Islands to safe locations. We hope the evacuation would be complete today so that all foreign tourists can be transferred to Lombok, from there to three main destinations, namely Bali, Jakarta, and Surabaya (East Java), and then to their respective countries," Yahya explained.
The minister could not ascertain whether there were tourists still trapped at a tourist site. Six tourists from Greece were stranded on a hill until Monday night (Aug 6) as they feared the occurrence of a tsunami after the earthquake.
"This incident is likely to disrupt the schedule of foreign tourists. On July 29, during the first earthquake, there were around 100 thousand foreign tourists leaving some tourist sites. In the past, when Mount Agung in Bali erupted, around one million tourists left Bali," Yahya remarked.
In 2018, the Ministry of Tourism had targeted 17 million foreign tourists, but the number is estimated to reach 16 million foreign tourists.
"We are optimistic that the recovery will not take too long. In Bali, we have completed the program within about three months," he added.
According to him, no country has issued a travel warning for its citizens to travel to Lombok until now. Most of the tourists coming to Lombok are come from China, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Europe.
"Until this morning, only China had issued a travel advisory for Lombok. We understand it, because it is a government?s obligation to remind its citizens to avoid places which are being hit by disasters. I thank the Australian Prime Minister who has expressed condolences and had not issued a travel advisory," he explained.
Data from the Head of the Information Center at the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, mentioned that the number of death toll from the 7 magnitude earthquake in Lombok, Sumbawa, and Bali on August 5, 2018, had reached 98 people. Meanwhile, 236 people were injured, thousands of homes were damaged, and thousands had taken refuge.
Most of the fatalities are in North Lombok District, because this area was the most affected by the earthquake.
Meanwhile, 2.7 thousand domestic and foreign tourists have been evacuated from Gili Terawangan, Gili Air, and Meno to Bangsal Harbor, North Lombok District, on nine ships.
They are traumatized and worried because of larger aftershocks and potential tsunami.
EDITED BY INE/H-YH