Can you imagine what it might be like to struggle to provide for your family?
Can you imagine what it would feel like to come up short and see loved ones go hungry?
Because of the severe downtrend in tourist visitors to the Lombok region – owing to the coronavirus pandemic – fishermen are out at sea daily to catch food for their families, knowing that no one has any reason to buy any of their excess produce off them. Restaurants simply are not interested in keeping these contractors in work, given they have their own nightmarish business situations to deal with.
A local Lombok fisherman struggled to provide for his family and was one of these victims that was forced out to sea to catch simply to survive.
Except the ocean swells do not care about your wealth or health. The swell that day that the fisherman realized he had nothing to give his family for dinner that night was the worst experienced in Lombok for the entire month. It would have been crazy to go and contend with those waves for some measly fish. But there was little other choice than to chance death and gamble with injury for this particular fisherman, whose heart was breaking at the very thought of returning empty handed.
Unfortunately, the sea swell being just too powerful, he did not return at all.
This disheartening story is echoed all over Lombok. Locals who have families on their farms are keeping them there, even unemployed, just to ensure they get fed and sleep in a warm bed.
This is the hidden face of suffering during a pandemic in a country that revolves around it’s tourism industry. The mountain tracks and surf beaches are empty, and it is hurting lives every single day that it remains that way.
As you can imagine, it has been tough on businesses since the border closure at the end of March. The only tourists seen in Lombok are people currently stuck in Bali (domestic tourism is allowed), who are in for a treat – empty line-ups, especially in usually busy Gerupuk.
Places like Canggu in Bali are still fully booked. This is worrying however, because although it is great that a huge domestic appetite still exists throughout the 250 million population of Indonesia, places like Lombok are being overlooked. This is because the area often attracts international travelers for very niche reasons like the surf or hiking available here. Governments are trying hard to simplify cleaning schedules and impose sanitization standards to get the area as open as possible in the coming months.
Many business owners in the region are doing the right thing, providing for their employees. Service industries like surf schools and rentals along with hotels and lodges are doing it especially tough. These businesses are finding it hard to navigate through legislation that allows them to operate, and then on top of that must somehow attract visitors to the region that require these services!
Domestic travelers in the Bali region should make it a priority to explore the amazing terrain and experiences on offer in Lombok, from the glorious heights of Mt Rinjani down to the golden beaches of Gerupuk Bay.
International readers can also contribute to the stabilization of Lombok. We urge you to take up opportunities to donate and support local charities like Lombok’s Forgotten Children and the Endri Foundation. These charities are doing amazing work in the area to support those who simply cannot support themselves. If you have ever been truly scared for what tomorrow will bring, then you can relate to what a lot of Lombok is experiencing right now. They need your help, and this is a fantastic opportunity to book that holiday in Lombok for next year. Nothing is worth more than hope. Thank you.