Bali is in crisis and Mt Agung hasn’t even fully erupted yet. Some are claiming that the impact of the minor eruptions and threatened eruptions is worse on the tourism industry than the impact of the Bali Bombings in 2009, with around 80% of Bali’s economy is related to or reliant on tourism. But there is hope, and the strong local community is coming together to support each other.
The members of BookGreener, the community of changemakers of Bali have started the campaign #IaminBaliNOW, and are working tirelessly to help Bali in this dire situation. Alex, the founder of BookGreener kindly gave up some of his precious time to speak with us.
Fiona: What’s your connection to Bali and how did you become so passionate about supporting the Balinese?
Alex: I founded BookGreener, a strong community of mindful business owners who share the same passion for Bali and common values. We believe we need to preserve the very reason why people choose to come to Bali. The Balinese offer us constant inspiration on how to behave as a community. Bali is a blessed island and anyone who stayed here will tell you how powerful the land is and how it changes people. I believe it is partly due to the presence of Mount Agung.
Fiona: What is #IaminBaliNOW and where did the idea come from?
Alex: The average Tourism Business in Bali is losing 1000s of dollars income each day, thanks to a volcano that may not erupt for months. The social media campaign #iaminBaliNOW is modelled after a similar very successful scheme, trialled and tested in Nepal. It is a crowd-sourced, social media campaign to advise friends and visitors that Bali is open for business and tourism as usual. The campaign showcases Bali as it is now, with reliable, up-to-the date information, facts, photos and stories. The #iaminBaliNOW campaign is the brainchild of the members of BookGreener, travel agents, resorts, shops, restaurants, yoga centers and suppliers, all located in Bali, who care for their island. It has the support of tourism experts and special input and guidance from our friends in Nepal, who launched Nepal Now, after the devastating earthquake the country suffered in the spring of 2015.
But #IaminBaliNOW isn’t just a social media campaign. We also have created a comprehensive webpage dedicated to providing facts and advice for travellers in relation to a possible eruption of Mount Agung. All the answers to questions you may have are HERE.
Fiona: Wow, what a great initiative. What else is being done in Bali to support the local businesses?
Alex: We are organising a series of meet-ups, like mini-conferences, which are almost an excuse to get people together. It’s half getting educated and enlightened on how we should communicate, following the expert advice from Raj Gawali who started #IaminNepalNOW. But it is also about everyone coming together, we need to collaborate and support each other. This is probably the biggest message to the world; we are in Bali, Bali is strong.
We also organize weekly meet-ups and brainstorm the next initiatives and actions. We are the ones we have been waiting for and we invite anyone interested in the Volcano to join the conversation. All information on our facebook page HERE.
Fiona: For tourists travelling to Bali, how can they get involved in the #IaminBaliNOW social media campaign?
Alex: It’s really easy.
1. Print & laminate a #iaminBaliNOW poster available on the Facebook page.
2. Take selfies in beautiful locations and share on social media using #iaminBaliNOW
Fiona: What about for people based outside of Bali, how can they help this situation?
Alex: Over 70,000 people are cold, wet, hungry, distressed and sick, living in temporary evacuation camps for months due to the threat of Mt Agung's eruption. THIS ARTICLE provides a list of some great organisations who you can help.
Here are my other tips:
- Never say Bali is safe… no one will believe you
- Tell inspiring stories about Bali and get travellers to share their experience
- Try to understand why people are genuinely afraid and address each issue
- We have an opportunity to go deeper in our understanding of Bali as a destination