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Key Indonesian Figures Fear That Tourism Will Be The Ruin Of Bali

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As Bali works to build a tourism model that is both culturally dignified and sustainable, key political figures in Indonesia are raising concerns about the level of development on the island.

As investment in tourism infrastructure continues to boom, Indonesia’s fifth president Megawati Soekarnoputri voiced her concerns about current trends. 

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During a seminar on the “100-Year Future Direction of Bali’s Development’ held in May this year, Megawati Soekarnoputri shared her disgust at the rising number of cases of unruly, disrespectful, and even lawless behavior by some tourists in Bali.

She voiced her support for Governor Koster’s plans to crack down on the illegal actions of foreigners on the island, including the introduction of specialist task forces, the proposed tourism tax, and greater financial checks on tourists.

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Ibu Soekarnoputri called on investment in tourism in Bali to be reassessed, a statement that has certainly got tourism stakeholders talking, even three months on.

Ibu Soekarnoputri even said that Bali risks becoming overrun by the negative impacts of mass tourism, issues that are widely acknowledged to be coming to fruition in Hawai’i. 

Ibu Soekarnoputri called for hotel construction to be stopped, for investment to be refused, and that plans to create new tourist facilities (everything from villas to theme parks to cafes) should be bought to a halt. Yet, it does not look like the ex-president’s wishes will be granted anytime soon.

Despite her support for Governor Koster, key tourism stakeholders in Bali are just starting to speak up about the need for more investment in the province. 

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The Chairman of the IHGMA Bali (Indonesia’s Hotel General Manager Association) has told reporters that Bali will remain a strong magnet for investment for many years to come.

Dr. Yoga Iswara has said, “Bali is still attractive to investors to build tourism accommodation.”

Yet, he did not deny the risks involved in allowing the tourism development boom to play out without restriction. 

Dr. Iswara said, “If Bali is damaged, then tourism will also be damaged and even die. Symptoms in that direction have begun to appear, for example, in terms of natural damage, traffic jams, garbage, and hotel [room rates] wars. Because of the desire to profit from tourism, anything is permissible; in the end, tourism dies.”

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It is not only the IHGMA that believes that investment could still create positive changes in Bali. The Indonesian Minster for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno, has long been vocal about his commitment to sustainable development in the tourism sector in Bali.

A move he says will bring great benefit to tourists and local people. 

Minster Uno says that the new era of tourism in Bali is dependent upon ‘green’ investments. Speaking at the International Tourism Investment Forum in late July, Minister Uno shared his vision for tourism in Bali in a post-pandemic era.

He wants to see investment and interest in Bali spread more evenly around the island. He noted that small-scale, sustainable tourism initiatives will be the future. 

Tourists-on-Padang-Padang-Beach-in-Uluwatu-Bali

Minster Uno told reporters, “We believe that investment after Covid-19 will prioritize [tourism] investment that is personalized, localized, has a bigger impact but smaller size.”

He added Apart from that, [the] investment [needed] refers to green investment, and this is the future of our economy.”

The Minster is keen to see tourism in Bali reframed as an essential part of economic development on the island and not something that should be condemned.

He explained, “We have to think outside the box in developing existing tourism potential. Because tourism is not a problem, tourism is part of the post-pandemic economic solution.”

Ariel-View-Of-Rural-Bali-With-Hotels-and-Villages-In-Countryside

In fact, the Ministry of Creative Economies and the Department of Immigration is already working to create a new residency-by-investment style visa that will help attract high-wealth individuals and influential investors to the country.

Naturally, Bali is the main selling point for the so-called ‘golden visa’. It is evident that tourism development in Bali is showing no sign of slowing down, but neither is the demand for travel in the province. 

Resort-Hotel-Area-Of-Nusa-Dua-Bali

Bali remains one of the most highly sought-after destinations in the world. Bali Airport has seen a more than 100% increase in tourism activity in the year so far compared to the first half of 2022.

The island is well on track to surpass tourism targets, and despite concerns about badly behaved tourists ruining the reputation of the Island of the Gods, Bali is busy and bouncing back better than expected. 

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Exp

Sunday 6th of August 2023

Quote "Tourism Will Be The Ruin Of Bali"? Already is in many locations.

Mdequay

Saturday 5th of August 2023

Ibu Mega can voice her disgust about those incidents by foreigners. Indeed part of these are disgustable. But disgustable practices by Indonesian government officials towards Indonesian citizens also do occur all over Indonesia. Maybe she should push for fair and transparent juidicial system, further improving law enforcement practices and equal treatment of both citizens and visitors. That would really make the impact she hopes for?

Mr Bear Snr

Saturday 5th of August 2023

When Covid hit Bali the Javanese Investors/business owners, bailed from Bali. Those who stayed and looked after the Balinese when they had no income are now reaping the benefits. Numerous attempts have been made to entice Western tourists to Java etc but the semi-sharia laws are the road block. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Chris

Saturday 5th of August 2023

I have thought this for a long time. Much better to limit the number of tourists/ travellers. Forget about trying to control everything Maintain well, the infrastructure already in place. Make sustainability a priority & keep the place clean. Keep the money in Bali & forget overseas investment. The smaller family homestays & resorts suit Bali & the size of the island. Preserve the rice terraces & the jungle. Why are all the young travellers flocking to the islands......simplicity, natural beauty & culture ??

Wayan Bo

Saturday 5th of August 2023

It’s already the case for at least far over two decades.