Quake shudders tourism:
The powerful earthquakes that struck the Indonesian island of Lombok in recent weeks killing some 400 people have sent holidaymakers fleeing, raising questions about how its lucrative tourism sector will bounce back.
Two deadly tremors a week apart – accompanied by dozens of aftershocks – wrought widespread damage on homes and livelihoods, striking during the crucial tourism season, when hotels, local businesses and seasonal workers earn the bulk of their annual revenue.
In the Gili Islands, a popular backpacker and diving destination just off Lombok’s northern coast, thousands of terrified tourists jostled on powder-white beaches for departing boats.
Lombok’s airport was briefly crammed with holidaymakers rushing to get flights out, while the main tourist drag of Senggigi has been left deserted.
Alfan Hasandi depended on peak season tourists to see his family through the rest of the year. He and his brothers ran a now shuttered business on one of the islands, Gili Air, offering boat tickets, snorkeling, trekking and vehicle rentals, usually earning five million rupiah ($350) a day during peak season.
“We hope we can rebuild...but it’s impossible because people are still traumatised,” the 25-year-old told AFP. “Our homes have been completely destroyed... we don’t have money to rebuild, we need help.”
Located in the one of the most tectonically active areas in the world, Indonesians are used to natural disasters and its tourism industry has bounced back from catastrophes