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Top Officials Say Bali Tourism Boom Could Threaten Human Rights

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The topic of tourism development in Bali attracts extensive input from officials, leaders, business developers, and tourists themselves.

During a panel discussion held ahead of Human Rights Day, leaders in Bali say tourism development risks human rights violations. 

Ariel View of Sanur Resorts Hotel Development

Speaking at a panel discussion titled “Encouraging Inclusive and Sustainable Tourism’ in Denpasar on Monday, 19th March, the Indonesian National Human Rights Committee raised concerns that unregulated tourism development in Bali risks causing human rights violations. 

Commissioner Prabianto Mukti Wibowo said, “This is a concern for all of us when we talk about tourism and human rights.”

He continued, “In several places, we see that many tourism activities cause conflicts, for example, over issues of land, environment, water resources, food including the rights of women workers, children and people with disabilities.”

Commissioner Wibowo noted that the tourism sector could and should be a catalyst for improving the quality of life for people on the island, from individuals through to whole communities.

He wants to see support from both businesses and tourists themselves for sustainable and inclusive tourism.

This, according to Commissioner Wibowo, could look like supporting tourism businesses that promote equitable employment and community development and have strong environmental values. 

Commissioner Wibowo wants to see more tourists and tourism businesses crate “meaningful relationships with local communities, providing access to people with disabilities and building trust in local people and communities.”

Specifically, Commissioner Wibowo wants to see greater accountability for tourism developers who are building resorts, villas, hotels, guesthouses, and other tourism infrastructures in Bali.

Like many other leaders, including ex-Deputy Governor Cok Ace, he wants to see a full-scale spatial planning and environmental impact analysis conducted across Bali to get a comprehensive picture of the land’s layout. 

Just last month, serious concerns were raised by tourism leaders that by 2025, there may be too many hotels in the Canggu resort area alone, leading to an economic collapse.

Commissioner Wibowo said that better infrastructure needs to be in place for tourism development in Bali to hold businesses and investors accountable.

He noted that responding to complaints of building laws being ignored is not a sufficient approach. 


Commissioner Wibowo said, “We work based on complaints. Without complaints, there is no legal standing for us to handle it unless it is a big case that attracts public, including national, attention. Then, we can take the initiative.”

The topic of human rights and just tourism development in Bali may well remain hot for many more years to come.

As Indonesia prepares for a new presidential term to begin, plans and policies are being laid out for the next political cycle.

The Republic of Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission has designated business and human rights as a priority issue for 2022 to 2027. 


In practice, what can holidaymakers and travelers in Bali do to ensure that they have the vacation of their dreams and do not support businesses operating in shady ways behind the scenes?

Supporting businesses that genuinely have the island of Bali and the Balinese people at the heart of their values and operations is one way.

In Balinese philosophy, there is a principle called Tri Hita Karana, which literally translates to the ‘three causes of well-being’ and is used as a way to describe harmonious relationships between the Gods, humans, and the natural world.

View of ocean in Bali

Businesses that pay a living wage, minimize environmental impact, support other local businesses within their operations, and implement the principles of Tri Hita Karana are all working in the right direction.

These values are normally pretty evident when reading a tourism business’s About Us page. 

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Saturday 23rd of March 2024

It seems the tourist is being used more frequently as a scape goat for internal problems in Bali these days.


Saturday 23rd of March 2024

Gentrification is the real problem!! Driving up prices only Russians and Aussies may be able to afford. The locals are selling their lands or leasing their villas in a heart beat knowingly that many sold or leased to foreigners are on a lease hold and that would secure their children’s future income. However that scheme is also an ecological problem!!!


Friday 22nd of March 2024

Total nonsense. The human rights crisis is when the tourists leave.


Friday 22nd of March 2024

How many of these problems could be avoided or overcome if Bali introduced and enforced zoning and relevant business codes.

A code at Provincial level with some parameters which are non negotiable. Limited variations allowed at Regency level.


Saturday 23rd of March 2024

@Shorty, They already have elaborate zoning maps and very detailed regulations for what is allowed or not within each zone. E.g. Denpasar including Sanur.

But as you alluded to; enforcement is non existent. Social status like caste, well connected and most important money decide what will be allowed or not. I know from first hand experience after attempting to shut down night club located inside a residential area near my house; An issue elevated to Satpol PP Bali province level without success. A lot of meetings and bla bla but at the end nothing changed as owner was untouchable.


Friday 22nd of March 2024

These same corrupt officials just ignored these same problems and now it's much too late to do anything meaningful about them.