Boasting vibrant culture, breathtaking mountains and hundreds of kilometers of pristine beaches and tropical forests, Bali remains one of Asia’s premiere tourist hot-spots. However, like many locations that have borne the brunt of fast-paced development of tourism and industrial infrastructure, the sheer number of visitors to Bali is increasingly placing the island’s environment and culture under pressure. Bali is currently facing numerous environmental issues such as pollution, loss of important natural systems, lack of water and electricity and inappropriate development that impacts on local communities.
Agung Wardene, the executive director of the Bali chapter of the environmental group WALHI, points to tourism as the main cause of the island’s environmental degradation.
“With more hotels being built every day the demand for water is growing. Water shortage is a huge problem. Most water in Bali is used up by hotels, creating problems between the tourism industry and farmers,” he says.
Bali’s economy relies on tourism, and the tourism industry in turn relies on the island’s natural assets as a draw card for visitors. How environmental and cultural degradation posed by tourism is managed or mismanaged is crucial to the future viability of Bali as a tourist destination.
Agung says that the current level of expansion within the tourism sector is not sustainable.
“Tourists come to Bali to enjoy the beaches and nature, building more luxury hotels and infrastructure will not help tourism in the long run because it will damage the environment,” he says. “The current tourism policy needs to be re-evaluated.”
Despite inadequate regulation enforcement and lack of incentives, many players in Bali’s tourism industry have been proactive in establishing sustainable tourism practices.
Linda vant Hoff, the co-proprietor of the Sarinbuana Eco Lodge and an avid environmentalist, says that the international market wants more responsible environmental management.
“If the government won't enforce [environmental management regulations], the industry just has to get on with it anyway... To see the future, look at the high occupancy, international standards and efficient operations in the hotels in Bali that have worked through an involved process to achieve Certification via Green Globe.”
Heeding the call, some hotel owners on the island have instituted ambitious environmental projects, from water treatment and conservation to organic farming of produce for their restaurants.
Numerous eco-lodges and eco-village stays have been mushrooming across the island, not only raising environmental awareness among visitors, but also incorporating the three major pillars of economy, community involvement and ecological conservation.
Sarinbuana Eco Lodge
Tel: +(62) 361 743 5198
Awards: Wild Asia’s “Best Eco Lodge in South East Asia” 2007-2008
Rates: Bungalows from Rp 1 million ++; budget rooms from Rp 100,000
Bali Mountain Retreat
Tel: 0828 360 2645
Rates: From Rp 150,000 – Rp 910,000
Uyah Amed Hotel
Tel: +62 363 23462
Rates: From US$36
Bali EcoAdventure & Resort
Tel: +62 361 901 874
Rate: From Rp 420,000
Bali Udayana Kingfisher Eco Lodge
Tel: +62 (0) 361 7474204
Rate: From US$60
Awards: Green Globe Eco Certificate since 2005
Puri Lumbung Cottages
Tel: +62 362 92810
Price: From US$72
Awards: Green Hotelier certified; Tri Hita Karana award
Agung Bali Nirwana
Tel: 081 2394 7308
Rate: From US$145
Price: Alila Ubud from US$224++; Alila Manggis from US$155++; Alila Uluwatu from US$580++
Awards: Alila Ubud and Alila Manggis have been certified by the Green Globe since 2007 and have won the Tri Hita Karena and the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism 2008 award.