Tourism leaders in Indonesia and Bali are calling on the industry to establish a safety certification to help protect both travelers and businesses. Speaking during a panel discussion, tourism expert Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya called for the island to create a series of health and safety standards to help regulate the sector.
Wijaya said, “Bali has a unique destination, second to none in the world. Bali competes with Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, to European countries. This must, of course, be maintained so that Bali is of higher quality, the management is higher quality, and our target is premium class tourism”.
He noted that Bali has topped the charts as one of the most highly recommended tourism destinations in the world for the last 15 years. Complementing the island’s unique character, abundant natural wonders, and cultural heritage, he impressed on the audience of tourism specialists that the safety side of the sector needs urgent attention.
Wijaya explained, “For our tourism workforce, it has been proven that we are needed worldwide. But for our destinations or tourist objects, the quality must continue to be improved so that we can still compete with other countries”.
He used the example of bamboo swings that can be found at some of Bali’s leading tourist destinations, like the Tegalalang Rice Terrace. He continued, “It’s not bad, but bamboo and wood have an age. When should they be replaced, and so on. The same goes for rafting, there must be certification, what is allowed and what is not allowed”.
Safety standards for rafting experiences in Bali have come under scrutiny in the last month after two serious incidences hit the headlines. On the 3rd of October, an American tourist went missing. Sadly he is now assumed dead after falling out of a raft on the Ayung River, and a week-long search and rescue effort bringing no evidence of his whereabouts.
Nine tourists and two guides survived the tragedy, but the 62-year-old American citizen disappeared after the raft capsized and was forced off course during a sudden swell of water in a flash flood.
Just days later, a family from Australia shared a similar ordeal, though thankfully, all involved made it back to dry land without injury. Aimee Everard was on holiday in Bali with her husband, their two young children, and her mother. Explained that the first part of the rafting journey went smoothly but that towards the end of the ride, things turned into a nightmare. Following the tour guide’s instructions, her family paddled the raft toward the bottom of a waterfall.
The force of the water sucked the raft under the surface, causing everyone to fall out. Everard and her husband were able to grab the children and scramble up the rocky banks. However, her mother was washed downstream and out of sight. For a terrifying half an hour or more, they did not know where she was or whether she was injured. Fortunately, they could eventually hear her calling to them from the other side of the river further downstream.
Just this week, a tourist in Bali ended up in hospital after falling from the clifftop at Broken Beach in Nusa Penida. Though 27-year-old Alvalino Kesanda fell 40m as he lost balance after failing to land a somersault for a photo, some would argue that a simple railing may have prevented his fall.
Safety protocols may also help tourists make better choices. On Wednesday, 2nd November, an American tourist was rushed to hospital after falling while trying to climb the rocks at Aling-Aling Waterfall. A falling rock crushed the 22-year-old’s leg.
Though it is not safe to climb Aling-Aling Waterfall, it is safe to climb and jump from Kroya Waterfall, which lies further down the jungle trail. Tourists will always be responsible for their own judgment calls, yet more public safety information can support more informed choices.
Wijaya called for local regulations to be improved to help protect tourists and, in turn, tourism businesses. He suggested creating a safety certification in partnership with the local government to maintain the quality of tourism experiences across the island.
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