Bali beaches are famous for their informal, slightly ramshackle yet charming beach bars. The beach huts of beaches like Berawa have become the life and soul of tourist hotspots, providing visitors with cheap bars and epic views, and local vendors with a place to run their small businesses.
On the 15th of May, Berawa beach’s row of iconic beach huts were demolished by bulldozers following multiple warnings from the Badung Civil Service Police Unit. The beach huts that had housed cafes, bars, trinket shops, and surf shacks were knocked down because the owner of the units did not have the correct planning permission.
Despite the huts being there for years and benefiting the local economy, the Badung Civil Service Police Unit declared that they must be ripped down.
The demolition of the 30 semi-permeant beach huts had been a long time coming. The owner had been ordered to remove the buildings himself before the 1st of April 2022. Since he had not followed orders, the police took matters into their own hands. Before the demolition the site was cleared and the police held talks with the business owners who had been operating from the beach huts.
Only six of the thirty businesses can operate on a mobile basis. A spokesperson for the Badung Civil Service Police Unit said that there was no way around the demolition, that not only were the beach huts considered unsightly and ‘slum-like’ that they were violating spatial planning and land use. The spokesperson continued to say that should the Badung Civil Service Police Unit have only issued an eviction notice that it would not be long until businesses started using the premises again.
Travelers returning to Berawa Beach after the Covid-19 lockdowns will be disappointed to not be able to have a Bintang on a bean bag by the famous beach shacks; though there are still plenty of bars operating along the length Berawa Beach.
The building has been demolished but the people who ran the stalls still need work. Local reports suggest that the vendors and Tibubueneng Village have formed a committee. It surely won’t be long until an agreement is made and vendors can operate on Berawa in a new way.
The now jobless staff of the 24 units that were unable to operate without premises make up part of the 3.48 million people in Bali who are of working age. It was announced this week that Bali’s unemployment rates are edging closer to pre-pandemic levels. It is hoped that Bali will soon see an even steeper increase in the number of tourists visiting the island.
Since the central government scrapped PCR-testing for arrivals and removed the outdoor mask mandate on Tuesday, the regional government in Bali is doubling down on its efforts to vaccinate all Balinese citizens. Increases in vaccine rates will have a positive impact on the confidence levels of potential travelers.
Berawa Beach may look different from how it looked in its pre-pandemic days for now but many people welcome the demolition. Real estate in Bali is a precious commodity and it is only fair that business owners operate within the spatial planning laws to ensure that the island’s iconic landscapes are preserved. Whatsmore, proper land planning and building regulations ensure safety for both local people and visitors.
Large beach clubs already have a monopoly on the Canggu area where Berawa Beach can be found. In the years running up to the pandemic, Canggu underwent a building development boom. Whether the trend will continue in a post-pandemic economy remains to be seen. Developers may have their sights set on other areas further up the coast.
Although the beach huts are gone, the world-famous surf of Canggu isn’t going anywhere. Surfers and sun-worshippers will continue to visit Berawa and no doubt entrepreneurial locals will find a way to serve them.
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