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Bali Tourists Are Showing More Interested In Modern Hotels Than Heritage Design 

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Bali is a travel destination that is always evolving.

Once upon a time, tourists could only stay at small, locally run guest houses and were afforded the most generous of welcomes and the most basic of amenities.

Nowadays, everything has changed.

Villa in Bali from Above.jpg

It seems that every single day, a new hotel, resort, or guest house is opening up in Bali, or at the very least, a project proposal is unveiled to the world.

With all this development showing no signs of stopping, project planners have a balance to strike: cave into trends and tourist demand, please the global accommodation market, and rigidly stick to preserving and uplifting Balinese culture by integrating Balinese design into every aspect of the tourist experiences. 

Leaders in Bali are concerned that new hotels and resorts are ignoring regulations that stipulate all buildings and developments must be created in alignment with cultural values and design principles.

This is not something that designers are requested to do out of generous spirit; rather, these are legal policies that have been in place for decades. 

The chairman of the Indonesia Restaurant and Hotels Association, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati (known mostly as Cok Ace), has shared his concerns that more hotel building applications are being submitted without due respect for Balinese culture.

He said that there needs to be an update to the building licensing system so that hotels and other accommodation buildings, like private apartment blocks and villas, can’t skirt around the rules.

He told reporters, “Suddenly there are large buildings, there are buildings that are very far from the rules of traditional Balinese architecture, and when the Provincial Government asked, they [the licensing department] say that it a separate matter. The problem is not that simple.”

Cok Ace said that in order to maintain sustainable tourism, the licensing system must be improved. Without quick action, the speed and direction of development in Bali could cause irreparable damage to the physical and cultural landscape.

He wants to see the licensing rules be applied more rigorously to building projects across Bali to ensure that architectural projects are built in accordance with the law and Balinese customs.

He shared, “There are mechanisms that we can implement to cover these weaknesses or eliminate these violations. And there is a solution we can put in place, namely submitting objections that can be submitted through the district, city, and provincial systems.”


Cok Ace noted that the massive construction of hotels and villas in Bali seems to be uncontrollable. Firstly from a design perspective and secondly from a spatial planning perspective.

He noted that increasingly, buildings are not complying with one very specific and important piece of legislation: Regional Regulation Number 5 of 2005 concerns Architectural Requirements for Buildings. 

He said, “There are also large buildings going into the interior of the villages. The basic principles of permits and environmental assessments are the same as before because the Regional Regulations have not changed.”


Cok Ace continued, ‘When you violate environmental regulations and yet say the permit has been fulfilled, why is there not a demonstration [of proof]?”

“This means that something is left behind; information has been neglected at this time because all stages must be fulfilled.”

Moving forward, Cok Ace wants to see existing regulations for land development and building adhered to the letter.

He also wants a spatial planning and tourism development survey completed. He says that a more accurate picture of supply and demand for accommodation needs to be completed for Bali before development is allowed to run wider than it is already. 


He concluded, “How much does Bali need tourists? Whether 10 million or 7 million, there can be projections of what accommodation needs to be built. That’s what tourism actors, especially hotels, need to join the associations so they have more valid data.”

Bali is on a mission to promote more sustainable and culturally respectful tourism, and this mission touches every aspect of the tourist experience.

This means they want to see tourists visiting cultural attractions, eating local food, and staying in accommodation that is built according to Balinese regulations that have been put in place to preserve cultural heritage and protect the environment in accordance with Balinese philosophy. 

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Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Who makes and enforces the rules mr. Cok?

Look in the mirror. All your troubles are your own misdoings. Corruption and ignorance for decades, then complaining about the consequences. Can't even put 1+1 together there.

Roland Vee

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Let's ask this simple question... How is it, that if there are 'rules', then, why are these 'rules' being abused?? Could it be that money talks and BS walks!

Na Kolohe

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

If you want to see how unregulated tourism has destroyed the landscape and culture of the people, take a good hard look at Hawaii. Government greed and corruption destroyed the local's lives and traditions for the sake of the almighty dollar. And sadly, outside interest are the ones profiting from this travesty.


Thursday 22nd of February 2024

@Na Kolohe, Good observation. The same is in progress in Bali although done without any consideration for proper zoning, rain catchment areas, drainage, roads, set-back from beaches and roads etc. Downhill fast.


Tuesday 20th of February 2024

Any developments permitted in rice paddies should be low density single storey alang alang villas respecting the green belt.


Tuesday 20th of February 2024

Why only go after resorts? Look at some of the trends:

1) Ugly Indomaret/Alfamaret popping up everywhere with bright signs and lights.

2) Jakarta style shop houses built along all major roads (basically concrete boxes with tin roof)

3) Subdivision of plots into tiny 75-100m2 land with no allowance for rain catchment or wildlife as almost 100% utilized for building

4) Rice/green zones are developed despite huge billboards stating huge fines/jail if doing so -- like in my area.

5) Out of control land prices. When will Bali be forced to accept high rises?


Tuesday 27th of February 2024

@Exp, I agree with you 100 %