Monday, April 27, 2015

Balinese Voices: The Development of Tourism

The Bali Post recently carried an editorial written by Nyoman Sumawijaya, a Balinese living in Cimahi, West Java.  Always eager to share informed local views on development issues, presents a free translation of excerpts from that editorial.

Editorial: Bali Tourism Development Must be Evaluated
By Nyoman Sumawijaya

Based on a study, Bali’s tourism business is not healthy. Using a study undertaken by French researchers (SETCO) in 1975, Bali’s maximum carrying capacity is 24,000 starred hotel rooms. However, the current reality indicates Bali already has 55,000 starred hotel rooms (sic) – an amount twice the stated carrying capacity of the Island.

(Editor’s Note: 2014 the Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association estimates there are 77,946 starred hotel rooms in Bali.)

The Provincial Government should be able to give guidance to regency and municipal administrations to slow down development in Bali’s South through stricter enforcement of permit requirements and other policies, while at the same time, extending incentives for investors to establish projects in North Bali. In this way, a more equitable distribution of the benefits of economic development and social welfare can be achieved, while at the same time reducing the environmental pressures on the Island’s south. There will be no need to change conservation areas into agricultural tracts. Such changes should only be undertaken if there are no other alternatives available.

Equitable Development

The Governor as the provincial leader must consider development in all the regions of Bali. Remote areas of Bali such as Karangasem and Buleleng have been left behind in terms of development when compared to regions in the south such as Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar, Tabanan and Klungkung. The regions of Bangli and Jembrana are also among the regions of Bali left far behind in terms of enjoying the benefits of Bali’s development. The Government should earnestly try to encourage investment in the Island’s north. One way to do this is to slow investment in the southern regions of Bali. This can’t be done if the Government accelerated development or changes environmentally protected areas into agricultural lands.

Bali’s north and east have potential for economic development. Local residents, in accordance with their limited capabilities, have already transformed a number of places in these areas into tourism areas. Tulamben, Gerombong, Pantai Ahmed, Lovina in Buleleng, and Banuywedang have all been created as tourism areas by local residents. The conservation of the coral reef by the people of Les (Buleleng) has been the object of much attention by international tourists. But, due to a lack of attention from both the provincial and central governments, tourism development in the Island’s north and east remains slow.

If we want to examine closely the recent opposition to the development of geothermal electricity in Bedugul, the main cause was jealousy from the people of Buleleng who saw that they secured little benefit from the development of PLTP Bedugul. This should be noted. Jealousy has already been reared its head.

The Problem of Water

Plans to reclaim Benoa Bay remains controversial and will certainly create a large number of problems, many of which have been discussed.

Another problem that is of equal importance in connection with the planned reclamation of Benoa Bay is that of water supply. The area to be developed in Benoa Bay cannot possibly supply water sufficient to meet its needs from surrounding water sources. The project’s water needs will have to come from Denpasar, Badung or Gianyar. Meanwhile, at the present time, these areas are already unable to meet their current water requirements. This lack of water means many members of the public and industrial companies in south Bali must accept water that fails to meet standards of both quantity or quality.

Green development? Green development still needs much discussion. When wetlands are converted into developed land, can this be considered green development? (At Benoa Bay) of the 838 hectares to be reclaimed, 300 hectares will be converted into art centers, hotel, restaurants and sports areas. These areas will also produce carbon dioxide (CO2) with much of these facilities to be air-conditioned. While short term steps can be taken to reduce the effects (or carbon footprint), but little can be done in on a regional or long-term basis.

Maybe at some point in the future we will reclaim the beaches of Benoa and other beaches in Bali. But at the present time, it is best to concentrate on developing other areas that are less challenging and pose a smaller environmental risk. Management theory dictates the alternative with the least risk and smallest sacrifice is the best one.

There are still many land areas in Bali that can be developed for tourism. East Bali, North Bali and West Bali have yet to develop due to a lack of infrastructure support. There are many domestic and international tourists who are interested in visiting tourism objects such as beaches, historical sites and community activities in Karangasem and Bulelelng, but who are compelled to limit their visits due to the lack of suitable accommodation.

If we are agreed that the main attraction of Bali as a tourism destination is the Island’s art and culture, then we need to create tourism object in many locations. Many areas of Bali remain like empty canvasses waiting for artisans and architects to create ideas that will attract tourist visitors.

The way the Balinese construct rice terraces is unique and can become a tourist attraction. Look at how the Balinese create and care for their homes, full of loving artistic touches. There are many temples and unique architectural objects that can serve as attractions to draw tourists to Bali. In fact, many tourists call Bali “the island of the Gods” due to the large number of temples found in Bali.

© Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to

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