In what is becoming an all too familiar sight, another tide of plastic waste has washed up in one of Bali’s leading tourist destinations. While the seasonal tides that have been carrying an increasing amount of garbage tend to wash up along the southern coast, around Kuta running westwards towards Canggu and beyond, a tide of trash landed in East Bali this weekend.
Locals have suggested, “snorkeling in Bali isn’t about meeting fish, but plastic waste”. The issue of plastic waste washing up on Bali shores is causing problems for holidaymakers, divers and locals alike. The Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants (PHRI) of Karangasem Regency, I Wayan Kariasa, shared his thoughts on the matter with local reporters.
Kariasa explained, “Many tourists complain about the amount of plastic waste they find on the coast and on the beach. Especially, tourists who want to do snorkeling because they feel uncomfortable”. Karangasem Regency attracts a reasonable amount of international tourists, though it is domestic tourists that make up the majority of the area’s visitors.
Kariasa explained that the accumulation of plastic waste on Karangasem’s beaches this weekend came from both on and offshore. He described how much of the debris was washed up on the shore, but in some areas, the trash had traveled from in-land communities as a result of heavy rains.
The Chairman shared his hopes that the issue would be tackled as soon as possible and confirmed that he is calling on the provincial government to do more to raise awareness about waste management within local communities. He further explained, “this plastic waste can damage the environment, especially if it is scattered on the coast, which has been visited by many tourists, such as Candidasa, Amed, Wates and others”.
Over the weekend, one visitor to Wates Yeh Malet Beach in Karangasem Regency shared his experience with reporters. I Putu Mei Anggarsipta, 23, told reporters that he was shocked by the volume of waste on the usually pristine beach. He said “I come here quite often in the afternoon. But now there is a lot of plastic waste. I hope that the relevant parties will quickly handle it so that it will return clean so that visitors will be comfortable”.
As the Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants for Karangasem Regency, Kariasa is concerned that the sight of plastic waste on the beaches and in the area’s best diving spots could deter visitors from coming during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Last week Kariasa told reporters that hoteliers in the area are pinning hopes on a flurry of last-minute bookings over the Nataru holidays.
He explained that by the beginning of December, hotel bookings for Karangasem Regency had reached 35%. He said, “With the current achievements, we are optimistic that we can continue to improve. We predict it will be above 40 percent”.
Karangasem Regency is perhaps best known for its diving tourism, with dozens of dive shops offering freediving course, PADI certification and snorkeling trips in the waters around the east coast. Karangasem is also famous for the Black Sand Beach and Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang, also known as the Gates of Heaven that overlook sacred Mount Agung.
The issue of waste management is a topic of conversation that is receiving increasing attention. In late November, Indonesia’s Former Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti, spoke to the media about the need for a specialist task force in Bali to deal with the ocean plastic that washes up on the island’s beaches. The Island’s Deputy Governor Tjokorda Oka Arta Ardhana Sukawati, also known as Cok Ace, has been vocal in his encouragement of communities taking more responsibility for waste management at a village level.
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