Skip to Content

Is There Meaningful Demand For Sustainable Travel In Bali?

Share The Article

Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Offering the full spectrum of tourism experiences, from the ultra-luxurious to the shoestring, from the mountain tops to the coral reefs, from family-friendly holidays to the soul-searching solo journey, Bali’s tourism industry offers it all.

Two People Snorkel Off Waters in Bali.jpg

For years now, political leaders and stakeholders in Bali’s tourism sector have been calling on the industry to introduce meaningful sustainability practices to ensure that the sector reduces environmental harm and evolves in alignment with traditional Balinese values.

Nevertheless, the tourism sector is a multi-billion dollar industry like any other and is ultimately fuelled by supply and demand.

The sector has a responsibility to be a tastemaker, but without catering to the demand of visitors, the industry would collapse.

Cyclists Tour Through Rural Bali.jpg

So as Bali moves ever further from the period of introspection provided by the pandemic, is there meaningful demand for the sustainable travel opportunities that political leaders and stakeholders want to see more of?

Top 5 Travel Insurance Plans For 2023 Starting At $10 Per Week

Easily Earn Points For Free Travel

Tourists in Bali Jungle.jpg

2023 Tourism Targets

Indonesia’s Minster for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno, has set clear targets for tourism arrivals in 2023 and outlined the ways in which the country’s leading destinations will attract more visitors. Minister Uno says he wants to see 7.4 million international arrivals in 2023.

The Bali Tourism Office has been told by Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster that the provincial target for international arrivals is 4.5 million, still less than the 6 million average annual international arrivals before the pandemic. 

Speaking at the time of the announcement of the 2023 tourism targets, Minster Uno explained, “This can be achieved if the focus is on two strengths, namely nature, and culture. In addition, tourists with special interest in ecotourism, spiritual tourism, and religious tourism”.

Tourists Stand On Clifftop in Bali

More recently, the Deputy Governor of Bali, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, also known as Cok Ace, has called on the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) to prioritize investment in developing sustainable tourism practices.

He told representatives of the PHRI, of which he is also the Chairman, that “investment should not damage Balinese nature, Balinese society, and Balinese culture.”

Cok Ace also noted that the supply and demand for accommodation is not evenly spread across Bali and that this generates issues in regard to sustainability practices across the province.

In some areas, there is so much demand that quality and adherence to sustainability values move away from being a priority so as to capitalize on the opportunity. In other areas, demand is so low that sustainability values are also compromised in a bid to generate any revenue possible. 


Pending Ban on Mountain Activities

In order for sustainable tourism to become a universal standard practice across Bali, legislation is key. Change can come from the top down as well as the bottom up.

There is an increasing amount of legislation being implemented to ensure that ‘Balinese nature, Balinese society, and Balinese culture’ are protected. 

Discussions are underway to implement heavier controls of tourism activities on Bali’s sacred mountains.

Following a series of sacrilegious events, spiritual leaders in Bali are working in partnership with the provincial government to draft new policies that will limit tourism activities on Bali’s sacred mountains to preserve the landscape’s spiritual nature. 

Hikers and Climbers Walk Down From Mount Agung On A Sunny Day In Bali.jpg

Introducing Rules for Dolphin Watching

Sometimes in the transition to sustainable-as-standard, supply and demand meet in the middle. In the popular resort town of Lovina in North Bali, new legislation is being drafted to better manage the dolphin-watching tours on offer in the area. 

The new regulations are being designed to create standard operating procedures that not only ensure parity for tour operator tariffs but also prioritize visitor safety and the health and well-being of the dolphins and their fragile ecosystem.

The new regulations will stipulate that boat operators must stay 25m away from dolphins, not block their direction of travel, nor chase them to get a sighting


The move comes as tour operators have agreed that standard operating producers would benefit their business and as tourists are taking to social media to highlight the unethical practices of some tour operators who harass the dolphins in a bid to please their guests. 


Demand For More Than Beachside Relaxing 

Then there is the demand for sustainable travel experiences from travelers themselves.

Speaking from Jakarta in December 2022, the Deputy for Marketing of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Ni Made Ayu Marthini, talked about travel demand trends the department had observed and would be responding to in the year ahead. 


She said that more and more travelers to Bali are seeking a “high-quality destination…filled with activities”.

She noted that travelers want to do more than just relax at the beach and that there is increasing demand for meaningful tourism activities that align with the values of younger travel demographics, especially adventure, experiential, sustainable, and even regenerative travel.

She said, “the age range of [tourism] market consumers in Indonesia is currently dominated by the millennial generation who are hungry for knowledge and information that is interesting, concise, and clear. So, as a means of promotion, it must be catchy, concise, clear, and full of pictures”.


Even with just three examples (of which there are many more), it’s clear to see the relationship between supply and demand and sustainable travel offerings. It is clear that there is demand and an even clearer intent to supply sustainable tourism opportunities.

This poses the next question, with many environmental issues hitting the headlines in Bali, can the transition to sustainable-as-standard happen quickly enough?

Remove All Ads & Unlock All Articles… Sign up for The Bali Sun Premium

Plan Your Bali Holiday:
Book The Best English Speaking Drivers For Airport Transfers & Tours
Choose From Thousands of Bali Hotels, Resorts, and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most Properties
Book Cheap Flights To Bali
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance That Covers Medical Expenses In Bali

For the latest Bali News & Debate Join our Facebook Community


Enter your email address to subscribe to The Bali Sun’s latest breaking news, straight to your inbox.


Sunday 9th of April 2023

The primary focus after "pandemic" restrictions ended were on increasing mass tourism numbers, so of course "sustainability" efforts would suffer. It has all become about multi billion profits that are barely, if at all,shared with the local communities.


Sunday 9th of April 2023

Your (Bali government) biggest concern should be garbage processing.

There is almost 0 garbage collection in Bukit. Daily plastic burning in Balangan, Ungasan, Pecatu, Bingin.

Bukit is considered the higher quality area with more expensive villas, etc. How long do you think the foreigners will put up with toxic smoke in the air all the time?? Nobody, who is willing to pay the high prices for the nice villas, will accept danger to their health because of your inaction.

Garbage collection and processing is government responsibility, which there is none at the moment.


Monday 10th of April 2023

Correct. I asked the local Desa rep. here how come he always come on time to collect fee for trash collection but never seem to collect any trash? He turned red face and started to mumble about "problem pak".

It is basically centrally controlled economy. A minister in Jakarta decided to close Suwung landfill before G20 and nobody locally moved fast enough for replacement.

So we sort the trash ourselves and only leave the organic one out for collection (now every 3rd week or so) in a closed container sprayed with insecticide, while the rest have to wait until things are back on track. Talk about a developing nation sliding back into a 3rd world country.


Saturday 8th of April 2023

How about an article about covid in Bali because yes there is covid in Bali and tourists coming back from Bali coming down with covid despite having to be vaccinated to enter Bali…I guess it’s something that the Bali governor doesn’t want you to know and is more worried about banning athletes from Israel…

Wayan Bo

Sunday 9th of April 2023

@Chubs, everybody should know that pandemic isn’t over yet.


Saturday 8th of April 2023

This talk about "sustainability" is all well and good.

I asked ChatGPT [Yes, this is for real]: "Answer with one word has Bali become a party destination?"

ChatGPT: "Yes"

So there you have it. Looks like Bali is "sustainable" for the beach club owners at least.

Rex Potter

Saturday 8th of April 2023

Was the author of this article on acid or mushrooms?

Wayan Bo

Sunday 9th of April 2023

@Rex Potter, on Arak Madu perhaps, CHEERS