Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bali Tourism Chief: Too Many Hotels Foreshadows the Death of Cultural Tourism

The chief of the Bali Tourism Service (Dinas Pariwisata Bali), A.A. Gede Yuniartha Putra, has sounded a warning on the pages of the Bali Post that despite rising tourist numbers on the Island hotel occupancies continue to decline. He blamed this contradiction on the proliferation of new hotels and a the very short length of stay for tourist visitors.

Culture Under Threat

Yuniartha expressed the concern that the escalating price war among hotels in Bali threatens the Island’s cultural heritage. “Bali is full of hotels. There are also illegal villas owned by people form outside Bali; there are even villas owned by foreigners registered in the name of Indonesian nominees. These are rented out directly in their (the foreigners) home country. The decline in occupancy rates is Bali’s ‘karma’ due to too many hotels,” he said, speaking on Monday, February 3, 2015."

As a provincial official Yuniartha lamented there is little he can do to stop overbuilding of hotels as that power resides with Bali’s municipalities and regencies. At the most, he said, the Province can only coordinate with the regencies to make the granting of licenses for new hotels more difficult. The Province estimates Bali has nearly 4,000 hotels with some 50,000 rooms. “As a result, the current competitive environment is unhealthy. But the power (to control hotels) rests with regencies and cities. All we (the Province) can do is recommend to them and try to prevent the growth of new hotels continuing (in this manner),” he explained.

Yuniartha confessed a similar problem exists with sub-destinations located in the regencies and cities where his office can only recommend that attention be paid to the infrastructure leading to tourism objects, reduce traffic congestion and guard the level of cleanliness at the actual tourism objects. 

A member of Commission II of the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), A.A. Ngurah Adhi Ardhana, also observed that the length of stay for tourists coming to Bali is declining. He said that in the 1990s until the year 2000 the length of stay for tourists ranged between 12 to 15 days, a figure that today has changed to just 5 to 8 days. Ardhana observed that quality tourism is being abandoned in Bali as people now only came for a very short stay, attracted by the low prices offered by hotels.

Adhi Ardhana blamed the minimum amount of tourism promotion undertaken in Bal as also contributing to shorter length of stays. The lawmaker has complained to Governor Pastika regarding the small amount of money allocated for tourism promotion in the 2015 Provincial budget.  Ardhana said that the industry and not the government now largely carry out the bulk of tourism promotion in Bali. 

Ardhana also expressed concern that the combination of escalating food price and declining room rates in Bali is turning the Island into a cheap destination attracting tourists with little interest in culture. This, he said, is unfortunate, given the remaining strong appeal of Bali’s culture.  He called for a more even distribution of supporting infrastructure to cover all parts of Bali as a means of creating a “new destination” that can be promoted by all elements of the tourism industry in Bali. 

At the same time, Ardhana warned that is the present situation is allowed to continue unaddressed it will spell the death of Bali tourism based on culture and the local population.  This will happen, he said, because we have allowed rich investors from outside Bali to enter the Island and erode the Island’s former glory.

Yuniartha admitted that there are minimum funds for tourism promotion in Bali, with only Rp. 900 million (US$72,000) allocated by the province for that purpose.

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