It seems that anything is possible in Bali, especially when it comes to developing new tourism offerings. Just as it seems the island has all bases covered, a new tourism activity makes its presence known. Village leaders in Bali have confirmed that Australian investors are seeking permits to develop skydiving tourism in Tabanan Regency.
According to local leaders, ideas for the development have been in the pipeline since 2019. In light of the pandemic and the amount of time it naturally takes to get a project like this off the ground (pun intended), the permit applications have only just been submitted to the relevant authorities. Speaking to the media, the Chief of the Kelating Customary Village, Dewa Made Maharjaya, said that the new venture is a positive thing.
He said, “The latest developments that have not been obtained are still waiting for permission from the center, while the permits in Bali have been completed,” Meaning initial permits for business operations have been granted. Now the project is awaiting final sign-off from the highest authorities.
Progress is certainly being made. Maharjaya confirmed that investors and business developers have held meetings and come to sign agreements with the local community and land owners. He confirmed that investors had transferred funds to land owners to lease the land required for the skydiving experiences to operate.
The center will be built on 7.5 hectares of land that is currently owned by 25 local people. The land will be rented on a long-term lease. He confirmed, “We have also met with the leadership, Regent Sanjaya, and had an audience with the leadership [team]’.
Maharjaya suggested that the skydiving operation would be seasonal so as not to impact the viability of agriculturally productive land in Kelating Village. He noted, “The construction site is in Banjar Dangin Jalan, east of the Kahyangan Puseh Temple”. He also confirmed that the Australian and Jakarta-based investment team have coordinated meetings with the Tabanan Tourism Office and suggested that progress in that regard has been positive.
As for the permission to fly aircraft in southern Bali, Maharjaya said that the fly zone for the skydiving experience is far enough away from the airspace used by I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar. Currently, there are two companies offering skydiving experiences in Bali. One is SkyDive Bali which, in fact, operates out of the Gili Islands, and the other is Tour East Indonesia, which offers an indoor skydiving experience.
The development of a skydiving tourism experience will undoubtedly trigger mixed feelings from both local residents and tourists alike. Though Maharjaya and his community largely see the investment as a positive development, others will raise concerns over the environmental impact of both the infrastructure required to run the experience. As well as the potential noise pollution caused by aircraft flying over residential areas.
Although leaders in Bali have committed to promoting more environmentally friendly tourism and keeping infrastructural developments in alignment with Balinese values, many projects receiving an official sign-off appear to oppose this. Even the Tourism Minster himself has said how he wants to see Bali promoted as a destination for ‘serenity, spirituality, and sustainability’.
In light of new research findings from Udayana University, environmental leaders and vulnerable communities in Bali are opposing further tourism development. Groups are speaking up about the impact tourism development having on the increase in natural disasters.
Although the final permissions are yet to be granted for the skydiving tourism program if the local community is on board, the paperwork and investments are all in order, and the chances of the venture being given the go-ahead are extremely high. No doubt the venture would also garner kickback from helicopter tour operators and paragliding guides who offer ariel adventures on the Island of the Gods.
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