The Jakarta Post
A number of hotels in Karo regency, North Sumatra, are offering special packages to foreign and domestic tourists following the slump due to the impact of the Mount Sinabung volcano, which is till emitting clouds of ash and hot dust.
The hotel operators are offering discounts of between 30 and 65 percent of their normal rates.
Director of Taman Simalem Resort, Eddy Tanoto Sukardi, said his hotel had offered the special package to a number of neighboring countries, especially Malaysia and Singapore, because the largest number of foreign guests came from those countries.
Eddy added that foreign guests were still wary of visiting Karo due to the eruptions which remain frequent. He said most foreign guests preferred to visit Karo in April.
'Many guests from Malaysia and Singapore have already booked rooms for April as they are afraid to come now due to the impact of the current volcanic activity,' Eddy told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Eddy claimed that since the first eruptions in September last year, the hotel occupancy rate had sharply dropped. He said in November 2013 his hotel had experienced reduced revenues of up to Rp 300 million (US$25,000), adding that the biggest loss, of Rp 1.2 billion, was recorded in December 2013.
Eddy said his management had offered a number of special packages to foreign and domestic visitors in anticipation of further losses, which could put the hotel out of business. He said one of the special packages was a discount of 30 percent.
Hotel Sibayak sales manager, Yaumil Sukidi, said the hotel management had offered a 65 percent discount on hotel rates to guests as an effort to prop up the occupancy rate, which had been declining in the past four months
'We have no other choice to survive than offer our Hot Promo program in the form of a 65 percent discount to staying guests,' said Yaumil, adding that the Mount Sinabung eruption had badly hit the hotel industry in Karo.
He said the losses suffered by Hotel Sibayak had reached Rp 300 million, Rp 450 million and Rp 600 million in September, November and December respectively.
Director of Erni Tour and Travel Agency Tandeanus Sukardi said the government, through the tourism office, was expected to help the slumping tourism sector in Karo regency by spreading accurate information through the media, including social media, on Mount Sinabung's activities.
He said many visitors might not be aware that the volcano's level of danger was currently located within a radius of 5 kilometers from the mountain peak, while most of the tourist attractions in Karo were located between 15 kilometers and 40 kilometers from the mountain.
Separately, volcanic activities of Mount Marapi in West Sumatra have intensified in the past three days. The 2,891-meter high volcano discharged ash up to 700 meters and spewed smoke as high as 400 meters from its peak.
'As of 2 p.m. on Thursday, Mount Marapi erupted five times and spewed white smoke twice up to 300 meters high, but the eruption which took place between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. was not recorded because the peak was covered by clouds,' said volcano observer Bujang of the West Sumatra office of the Geological Disaster Mitigation and Volcanology Center (PVMBG) on Thursday.
Bujang urged residents and climbers not to go beyond a 3-kilometer radius of the mountain. Authorities have set an alert status for Mount Marapi since August 2011 when it discharged ash as high as 1,000 meters and covered Padangpanjang city and Tanahdatar, Agam and Padangpariaman regencies.