Mon, 03 Jan 2000

Indonesian flights empty over Y2K fears

JAKARTA (JP): Lack of promotion about Indonesia's readiness to face the Y2K bug has caused a drop in the number of tourist arrivals to the holiday resort island of Bali during the New Year holiday period, a local official claimed.

The head of the Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture's office in Bali, Luther Barrung, said in Denpasar on Saturday that some flights had to be canceled due to the low of number of passengers.

"The fall in arrivals can be seen in the small number of European tourists," said Luther.

He pointed out that there were only a small amount of passengers boarding Garuda Indonesia flights from Europe, forcing the national flag carrier to cancel its flights during the New Year holiday.

He noted that out of 200 Japanese tourists, there were only 70 confirmed passengers.

Luther said that reports of Indonesia's unreadiness to face the supposed Y2K bug had turned many tourists away.

The Y2K bug refers to a programming glitch in computers whereby when their clocks turned to '00' at midnight on Friday last, many systems may not have recognized the date as 2000, but rather as 1900, resulting in problems ranging from billing errors to power outages. However, as has been the case since the roll over date, there have been few problems reported.

"This is all due to a lack of promotion from various national institutions, causing tourists to think that Indonesia really isn't prepared to face the impact of the Y2K bug," he said as quoted by Antara.

The head of Garuda's office in Denpasar, Mohammad Azhar, also remarked that the airline had to cancel its Denpasar-Perth and Denpasar-London routes for the New Year because there was simply no demand.

"Most of the tourists from abroad, particularly those from Europe, were worried about the Y2K bug and chose to cancel their departures," he explained. (mds)