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Indonesia holds Cabinet meeting in Bali as volcano threatens tourism

JAKARTA Indonesian President Joko Widodo was yesterday scheduled to hold his cabinet meeting on the holiday island of Bali in a bid to reassure visitors that there is nothing to worry about from the rumbling Mount Agung volcano.

Authorities last month raised the alert status of Mount Agung in north-eastern Bali to the highest level as it spewed ash and other volcanic material.

Mr Widodo will take the unusual step of gathering his cabinet in Bali as part of government efforts to assure visitors that the island is safe to come to and to stave off a major drop off in visitor numbers during the upcoming holiday season.

"For those who have plans to vacation in Bali, there is no need to doubt or be worried about the status of Mount Agung, Bali is very safe to visit," Energy Minister Ignasius Jonan said in a Twitter message after visiting an observatory overlooking the volcano before the cabinet meeting.

The cabinet usually meets at the state palace in capital Jakarta or on its outskirts in Bogor.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said this week that Indonesia was expecting an estimated 15 trillion rupiah (S$1.41 billion) in lost income and around a million fewer tourists because of the volcano, according to daily newspaper Kompas. - REUTERS

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