The Jakarta Post
The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) administration denied on Tuesday a report that a number of cruise ships would cancel visits to Lombok Island because of garbage in the waters near its beaches.
“There has been no cancelation of trips to Lombok until now, and certainly not because of garbage,” the province's Tourism Agency head, Lalu M. Faozal, told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
He said that at least 26 cruise ships had registered to make a stop in Lombok throughout 2019. In January, a German-flagged cruise liner docked in Lombok with 1,800 passengers.
The agency recorded three cruises that stopped in Lombok in the last three months, including by the MV Star Legend and MV Aidavita.
“On March 15, we will welcome the MV Sun Princess at Lembar Port. The cruise liner is scheduled to bring around 1,500 visitors. We know this because we are the ones handling it,” Faozal said.
Lombok is a popular transit point for cruise ships that are usually on their way to explore the eastern part of Indonesia as far as Raja Ampat, Papua.
Erry Ardiyanto, the general manager of state-owned port operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) III in Lembar Port, said on Monday that he had received reports from cruise ship tour agencies in Singapore that three of the 26 cruises would cancel their visits because of garbage on the island’s beaches.
“Garbage in tourist sites [on the island] is the major complaint, but we have tried to overcome the waste problem,” he said as quoted by tempo.co.
Dewantoro Umbu Joka, the chairman of the provincial chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA), agreed with Erry, saying that garbage had become a major problem for the island’s tourism.
“This is a problem that we should solve together,” he said.
The government has promoted the island as one of the “10 new Balis” in its efforts to boost tourist arrivals in the country. Other destinations that are also being promoted are Lake Toba in North Sumatra and Labuan Bajo, which is close to Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara.
The country has recently secured a deal to host Dorna Sports’ MotoGP for a slot in the 2021 season, and the event will be held on a new circuit in the Mandalika Special Economic Zone in Lombok.
Tourist activities on the island, however, are currently struggling after a series of earthquakes that devastated many parts of the island in August.
The number of tourists in Lombok decreased following the quakes. The Tourism Ministry reported that between September and December 2018, the figure dropped by a whopping 66 percent compared to the same period the year before.
The ministry's data shows that before the earthquake up to 10,000 foreign tourists arrived at Lombok Praya International Airport every month. After the earthquake, the figure fell to 3,000.
Faozal insisted that the report of canceling cruise ships was not true and it would hinder the recovering tourist activities on the island.
He added that the local administration and relevant stakeholders were serious about waste management. They have been cleaning the rubbish around the beaches routinely since the earthquakes.
He said the agency had made a complaint to Pelindo regarding the alleged false report.
“The report is far from the truth,” Faozal said, adding that the agency had conducted a further inspection around the port.
He expressed the hope that the public would also participate in returning to the spirit of Lombok tourism following the administration’s program of Zero Waste launched earlier this year. (das)