Bali is undergoing a surge of rapid tourism development; there are new resorts, villas, beach clubs, and apartment complexes under construction across the island.
Key areas that are experiencing the bulk of the investment and development include both Canggu and Uluwatu and their surrounding villages, as well as the outlying island of Nusa Penida.
While many see high investments coming into Bali as a positive sign for the economy, many share substantiated fears that this seemingly never-ending conversion of the natural landscape into tourism infrastructure is an irreversible threat to life on the island.
A viral video that is currently doing the rounds shows satellite images of Bali’s previously rural landscapes over the last decade is shocking to see.
Rice paddies, farmland, and rural villages around Canggu have been replaced with hotels, restaurants, villas, and resorts.
Bali lovers across demographics feel that the island is struggling to strike a balance between preserving culture and natural landscapes and tourism development, which supports the local economy.
Mounting waste management issues, near constant traffic congestion in tourism resorts, and a rise in bad behavior by a small significant number of foreigners all point to undeniably negative impacts of mass tourism on the small provincial island.
As local residents, expats, and tourists have joined together to voice their concerns, over the last year a significant number of development projects have been canceled or protested against due to the damage the construction could do to the landscape.
Many of the projects that have been canceled, paused, or protested against have failed to produce the correct building permits, meaning that the government has been in a position to step in and cancel construction.
This had been the case in Nusa Penida this week, where construction on what was set to be a luxurious new villa in Pejukutan Village has been brought to a halt.
The Head of the Klungkung One-Stop Integrated Services Investment Service, I Made Sudiarkajaya, told reporters that the foreign investors behind the project had proceeded with construction before they had acquired permission to do so.
According to Sudiarkajaya, the investors had only applied for a Business Identification Number and no further permits, licenses, or building applications.
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The villa in question was set to include a helicopter landing pad and an expansive swimming pool.
The construction teams had laid foundations and had even started building walls before the authorities were able to close the project down.
The case has been handed over to the Klungkung Regency Judicial Team to supervise and regulate any further work on the project.
The Regent of Klungkung, I Nyoman Suwirta, has been made aware of the case and has told the media that he has communicated directly with the people responsible for the project, though he did not reveal their identities publicly.
He has suggested that the necessary permits will be applied for in due course and that construction will likely continue once all paperwork is in order.
The Regent told reporters that he ‘not want to give the impression that there was a ban on investing in the area.’
This construction project in Pejukutan Village is close to iconic tourist attractions like Diamond Beach and Thousand Islands Viewpoint.
The eastern edge of Nusa Penida receives a huge amount of visits from tourists every day, and the island is only growing in popularity.
The Regent and his teams are also grappling with the desire to develop tourism on the island and protect the natural landscape.
Regent Suwirta recently confirmed that he has submitted legislative changes and applications that, if granted, would see Nusa Penida become a protected geopark.
This would make it harder for construction projects that cause environmental harm to go ahead.
While Bali is a destination loved by the vast majority of tourists, one of the most common complaints by visitors is noise disturbance from construction projects neighboring existing accommodations.
This is an issue that tourism businesses and the authorities are acutely aware of and has been cited by many Bali lovers as their reason for traveling to different destinations for their vacations.
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