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Traveler Favorite Resorts At Risk Of Overtourism Says Bali Professor

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With the introduction of the Bali Tourism Levy just around the corner, discussions about whether or not Bali is on the brink of overtourism are hot on everyone’s lips.

One top professor from Bali says it’s a way off yet but that the situation needs to be addressed. 

Tourist Walk Through Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali.jpg

In a definition laid out by the United National World Tourism Organization, over-tourism is considered to be “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences the perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitor experiences in a negative way.”

The UNWTO definition also acknowledges that overtourism can occur in localized areas of a bigger tourism destination. 

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The opposite of over-tourism, in this instance, would be sustainable tourism, which the UNWTO describes, in part, as “Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.”

While many would say that Bali’s biggest and busiest tourism resorts tick this box, some experts say it’s a matter of perspective. According to Wayan Suardana, the Dean of Udayana University in Denpasar, overtourism has not yet struck all of Bali. As he sees it, the over-concentration of tourism in the southern regions must be addressed as a priority. 

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He noted that Badung Regency, home to Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu, Jimbaran, Uluwatu, and Nusa Due, are all heavily concentrated with tourism businesses.

As is Gianyar Regency, around Ubud, and Denpasar. Suardana stated that comparatively, tourism activities in Karangasem Regency, Buleleng Regency, and Jembrana Regency are lagging behind and are sitting on the opportunity as tourists looking for a more off-the-beaten-track expense. 

In his eyes, there needs to be an investment in policies that support economic equality and the development of stature in these areas.

Roads and public transportation are another key priority. Suardana says that after the pandemic and as Bali approaches post-recovery growth, attracting high-quality tourism is the aim of the game. 

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Some key destinations and attractions in Bali are already planning ahead to mitigate the impacts of overtourism.

In Penglipuran Village, the island’s most popular tourism village, leaders are already putting safeguard strategies in place. 

Speaking to reporters last year, The Head of Pengligpuran Tourism Village, Wayan Sumiarsa, “Every time there is a meeting with traditional village officials, I always say that if Penglipuran Village is left [to overtourism], there will be many negative impacts. What we are aiming for, namely to become sustainable tourism, will be very, very difficult to achieve.”

Penglipuran-Village

He noted that in many cases, the emergence of overtourism is because attractions and destinations become victims of their own success.

He explained, “Over-tourism in Penglipuran would not be because we are silent, but because we are making innovations that make potential tourists interested in coming here.”

He concluded, “We are not just standing still; we are trying to find solutions or potential for us to develop so that visiting tourists don’t just pile up in villages.”

Penglipuran-Village-1

While the impacts of over-tourism are clear to see on the communities and the landscape, it is not always imminently clear how overthrust negatively affects travelers. Yet, it is hugely detrimental. 

The impacts of overtourism are multifaceted and include overcrowding, loss of authenticity at destinations (read selling out), higher prices, and environmental deflation.

The topic of increasing prices is also front and center right now. Many Bali lovers are fearful that the island won’t be an affordable travel destination for much longer.

Woman-In-Luxury-Swimming-Pool-Ubud-Hotel

Increasing prices are being noted across the board, partly as the island fully recovers from the pandemic but also due to inflation that is caused by the huge demand for travel in the province. 

Officials are seeking to attract higher quality, longer-staying tourists who are interested in sustainable and culturally respectful tourism in 2024, so Bali lovers can expect to be encouraged to explore areas outside of Badung Regency and embrace the wonders of Karangasem, Jembrana, and Buleleng. 

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J West

Tuesday 30th of January 2024

“Run the risk of over tourism”…!!!! 5555555 ! That’s a joke….right? Don’t put me on your ‘ Most Wanted’ poster, don’t waste the ink, I'm never going back to Bali, ‘ The Island of Garbage. Is it so wrong to tell the truth’?

Exp

Monday 29th of January 2024

Overtourism? What about number of gangsters flowing into Bali?

3 Mexicans gangsters arrested yesterday for shooting one member of a Turkish gangster group "on holiday" in Mengwi. Bali police had to call in national police SWAT team.

So why is Bali of interest for international gangsters to bring their conflicts here?

wilter

Thursday 1st of February 2024

@J West,

Customs is in on it with the Police here.

J West

Tuesday 30th of January 2024

@Exp, Bali is a close port to Australia. Oz is a focus for Mexican dope stuffed into fishing smacks to feed an insatiable population. Every island chain in the South Pacific has become a transit point for container loads of cocaine, weed , meth and fentynal.

Theo

Monday 29th of January 2024

With the new tourist tax, the visa cost and general increased prices I think there may perhaps be fewer families visiting.

M

Monday 29th of January 2024

Oh dear... you can't copy what works in Jakarta and paste it in Bali. Jakarta has infrastructure, Bali is a rock, divided between South and North by Gunung Agung. You can't dig your way trough for obvious reasons, there's no train infrastructure such a high speed train which drives around the obstacle. The streets are an argument since decades but instead of going it on, I see more and more rukos, cafes and shops coming up along the main road. You want only rich buses? The North will die completely without the backpackers, meanwhile Nusa Dua will end up as next Kuta... please not. Dear Politicians think before talking, you should be held responsible for your faults and actions. We need a mix of different kind of Tourists. Bali isn't St.Tropez nor Monaco or Miami Beach. First we should do our homeworks (infrastructure, changing mindset, following rules) and after it we can be selective. It will take time and efforts. But don't destroy our future and hopes just because greed conclusions taken without the help of expertise.

Andrew

Monday 29th of January 2024

I don't agree with your definition of the opposite of overtourism. The opposite of overtourism is simply undertourism, meaning a location that has tourism potential and is "underknown and/or underequipped" to handle any or more tourists. Sustainable tourism is a point on the line somewhere between over and undertourism: a point where the quality of local community, environmental sustainability and tourist satisfaction is met. Reasonably accurate studies need to be done to quantify these needs, and then have the controls in place to limit the infrastructure to suit, and importantly, to slow the 'goldrush' effect that soon follows an increase in tourist interest (dollars). Let's be honest here, the local community can most often be as money hungry as the tourist desires are at spending it: and therein lies the true clash of sustainability. Uluwatu and Canggu (seasonally) recently come to mind here. Bali-envy is a phrase that could be used across this country. Now, being a middle-aged, well travelled Austalian man, I would suggest to all young (and/or inexperienced) travellers to go to Bali for their first international destination. Why? Because it is close, reasonably safe and culturally different. Also, because it is cheaper (NOT CHEAP) than most other prospective first-time destinations. Particularly, the young and financially limited travellers should never be discouraged from finding their travel satisfactions. Bali still offers this opportunity. The young and inexperienced traveller can be taught the respect and decency of sustainable tourism and they should always remain a credible target of such policies. I personally travel (the best that I can at least) at the level of the local community so as to remain at their level of life and existence understanding. This helps me experience their world all that much better. This is my personal travel satisfaction. A AU$3k per night hotel room will not encourage me any more to go snorkelling with a Manta ray. In fact, it will only distance me further from the happy and proud local that helped me find, enjoy and forever remember that experience.