Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster has recently announced plans to implement a cap on the number of tourists who can visit the island annually. The policy change has sparked a huge discussion in Bali, and some local leaders are urging caution.
The Chairman of the Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) for Tabanan Regency, Tabanan, I Gusti Bagus Made Damara, has told reporters that the proposed quota system must be very carefully formulated before it is implemented.
Tabanan Regency neighbors Bali’s most popular tourism regency of Badung. Tabanan Regency is home to leading tourist attractions like Tanah Lot Temple, the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Uluan Danu Baratan Temple and Mount Batukaru.
In fact, Tabanan Regency has plenty to offer travelers and holidaymakers in Bali. Not only is the regency home to some of the most picturesque black sand beaches and quiet surf spots but also some of the most stunning jungle retreats on the island.
While many travelers head to Ubud and the villages around Gianyar for a jungle immersion, there are breathtaking forest retreats in Tabanan that are not to be overlooked.
As the dialogue around proposed tourism quotas and other major proposed policy changes like banning the visa on arrival for Russian and Ukrainian citizens and banning all foreigners from driving in Bali, some tourists and tourism stakeholders are understandably anxious about how and when these proposed changes will be bought into effect.
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Damara told reporters that while the public dialogue has its positives, that action is what is needed now.
He noted that the conversation around sustainable vs. mass tourism and quality vs. low-quality tourism is nothing new. Damara reminded reporters that this discussion has been ebbing and flowing in academic circles in Bali since the 1980s.
He said, “Now, the most important thing is the translation. Don’t just talk, considering that it was discussed in 1985. Incidentally, I am an alumnus of the Faculty of Tourism at Udayana University,”
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Damara voiced his concerns that a tourism quota could have a negative impact on small, independent hospitality businesses in Bali.
He explained that quotas should not inadvertently further concentrate tourism in Badung Regency, home to the island’s busiest resorts like Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu, Uluwatu, and Nusa Dua.
Damara continued, “This should also be a serious concern if the quota for foreign tourists on vacation to Bali is limited. Because in Bali tourism, local people also participate. They provide inn-class accommodation or small hotels.”
As a key tourism stakeholder, Damara’s statements will have a big impact on the conversion at large. He warned that as the island continues to recover from the impacts of the plasmid, tourism should not be allowed to ‘die’ again.
He concluded, “Be careful with applying restrictions on tourist quotas; you might go bankrupt later. That’s why we need to sit down and discuss it. What’s the formula like? Anticipate what kind of negative impact it will have.”
Governor Koster’s proposed tourism quotas would actually still permit millions of tourists to enter Bali every year. Despite a series of major policy change proposals in recent months, the provincial government is still keen to welcome 4.5 million international tourists to Bali this year.
During the announcement, the Governor explained how the tourism quotas, and other new policy changes, could look be implemented.
He explained, “[the quota] is limited to seven million foreign tourists, for example, per year, with certain criteria, so it’s tightened. For example…[tourists must show] a minimum [amount] of money to carry in savings. Don’t let [tourists] only bring IDR 10 million enough for a week and suddenly stay in Bali] for a month.”
For now, it remains the case that there is no limit to the number of tourists allowed into Bali, and there is no limit on the number of visa-on-arrivals that can be issued by the Department of Immigration online, or at the Ngurah Rai Immigration Offices at Bali Airport.
As a country, Indonesia is aiming to welcome over 7 million international visitors in 2023, with a local target of 4.5 million foreign tourists visiting Bali.
As the high season approaches, Bali is braced to welcome tens of thousands of travelers and holidaymakers to enjoy the best that the island has to offer. From the rolling surf of Canggu to the jungles of Ubud, from the sandy shores of Lovina to the exclusive resorts of Nusa Dun, Bali is open and welcoming and is still set to have the busiest year for tourism since the pandemic began.
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