Bali is famous for its pristine white sandy beaches, and while the majority of holidaymakers to Bali stick to the coastlines, the island has so much more to offer. From cultural villages to stunning natural landscapes to adventurous hikes, ATVs, and zip lines, Bali caters to every kind of traveler.
Although Bali has welcomed over one million tourists back to the island in the last month, the sub-sectors of the tourism industry are not bouncing back at the same rate. While coastal resorts like Kuta and Sanur are seeing hotel occupancy increase, experiential travel inland is struggling to bounce back.
According to the Tabanan Tourism Office, only 9 of the regency’s 26 tourism villages have reopened after the lockdown. Head of the Tabanan Tourism Office, I Gusti Ngurah Agung Suryana, blamed the lack of innovation and marketing from tourism village managers. Though there may be greater forces at play. Innovation alone will not be sufficient in bringing tourists back to Bali’s famous tourism villages.
The cost of marketing is high and village leaders need support in the promotion of the experiences they offer to the right audiences. He also urged that local residents must play an active role in bringing tourists to visit. That participation from local residents in the form of sharing culture is the cornerstone of the tourism model, without their enthusiasm the programs won’t recover.
He explained “we continue to encourage to redevelop the potential of existing local wisdom, including how to promote the existence of tourist villages, because current tourism must be supported by the existence of tourist villages. Tourists are tired of traveling in urban areas, and have chosen a new atmosphere in the countryside”.
Suryana went on to say that he is coaching tourism village managers to promote their experiences through social media since this is a budget-friendly option that is accessible to many of the 17 tourism villages that have struggled to reopen. He said ‘’We in the district only provide encouragement for coaching through WhatsApp groups so that the tourist village continues to grow’’.
Suryana explained to local reporters that the 17 tourism villages are located in 10 sub-districts across Tabanan. Tabanan is a large Bali Regency that covers key tourism hotspots like Tanah Lot Temple, Balian Beach, and Ulun Danu Beratan Temple. The tourism programs in the 17 villages largely offer nature tourism, trekking, and cultural experiences. The demand for nature, culture and adventure-based tourism in Bali has not bounced back as quickly as the demand for beach and coastal travel.
Although Suryana may feel alone in his efforts to revive the village tourism programs in Tabnana his sector has not been overlooked. On Monday Indonesia’s Minster Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno held a press briefing to announce tourism targets for the remainder of 2022. He also explained his strategy to increase and diversify tourism across Bali.
In July Bali will host International Conference on Ecotourism in West Bali National Park. This is an opportunity for the island to address the slower recovery of the ecotourism sector, despite global trends leaning toward ecotourism becoming the norm.
Bali is also hosting the G20 Summit in November and the organizers have put a strong focus on showcasing Balinese culture and heritage. The summit is followed by a series of field trips for delegations. Although these trips are thought to be heading to Guyana Regency, the media attention around these events could help turn more eyes onto what neighboring Tabanan has to offer.
The bounce back from the impacts of 2-years of the pandemic has sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in some communities in Bali. In Temesi Village in Gianyar Regency, a group of young conservationists is working to put the village’s hidden waterfall on the tourism map.
It is clear that communities across Bali are working hard to ensure that everyone, especially micro and small businesses, benefit from tourism revenue in the island’s recovery.
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