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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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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