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Tourism

Is it still safe to go to Bali? Tour groups reassure Hongkongers as volcano eruption ‘imminent’

Tour groups in the city say risk is low as most visitors go to island capital Denpasar – which is more than 60km away from volcano

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 1:22pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 5:02pm

Hongkongers heading to the Indonesian holiday destination Bali will not be affected by volcanic activity on the island, tour organisers have said.

Nearly 35,000 people have been evacuated from the area as Indonesian officials say Mount Agung could erupt soon.

Authorities imposed a 12km exclusion zone around the crater, as increasing activity on Sunday sent strong tremors through areas in the eastern part of the island.

A spokeswoman for Hong Thai Travel Services, one of the city’s major agencies, said its tours heading to Bali were not affected at the moment.

“Mount Agung is not a popular destination for our tours, which usually stay in Denpasar,” she said, adding that the company’s only tour heading to Bali in the coming week would depart on Monday.

Steve Huen Kwok-chuen, executive director of Hong Kong’s EGL Tours, said his company had no tours currently on the island, but three groups, comprising 60 people, would head there between Wednesday and October 4.

Huen expected the tour to run as usual as the volcano is far from the capital of Denpasar, in the south, and that a visit to Mount Agung is also not included in the itinerary. The volcano is more than 60km away from the capital.

Huen said various factors had to be considered before deciding whether to make changes to tours.

“Tours can be affected if planes can’t operate or the government has issued a black Outbound Travel Alert [against the territory],” said Huen.

Huen was referring to the highest level of a three-tier warning system issued by the Hong Kong Security Bureau on the risk of travelling to foreign countries or territories. A black alert means visitors are urged to “avoid all travel” as there could be “severe threat” to those visiting.

Currently Syria is the only country with a black alert issued by the city’s government.

Indonesia is among 20 countries or territories with an amber alert, the lowest level in the system. Visitors are advised to monitor the situation and be cautious as there could be “signs of threat”.

A Security Bureau spokesman said the government would continue to monitor and assess the situation in Indonesia.