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Changing Demographics May Change Bali’s Character
balidiscovery.com's coverage of the long term effects of changing tourism demographics on local culture and society [Changing Demographics May Change Bali's Character] and the resulting call for more-modern-less-cultural attractions in Bali evoked lively responses from a number of readers.
• Stephanie Morrison of Tucson, Arizona wrote to say:
"Thanks for writing your newsletter, helps me stay in touch with the island that has my heart!
The article on Changing Demographics May Change Bali's Character made me disgusted. My husband and I went to Bali in December of 2002. This was our first visit, but will not be our last. I had been wanting to go to Bali since 1997 when I saw a Travel Channel episode on it calling it the last paradise. Well, after finally making it to Bali, it was everything and more than I expected. I immediately fell in love with the island, people and culture. I have been dreaming about going back ever since we arrived back in the U.S..
The thing most important thing that captured my heart in Bali was the culture and people. I think that if they set up amusement parks, such as a Disneyland, this would just help to destroy the amazing culture of the island. This is not something that should be modernized. The people of Bali honor their culture and if you want to visit the island you should also honor and cherish that culture.
Please let the people know that they do not need to modernize themselves to get tourist."
• Chris Davis in Australia offered the following succinctly put comment”
"Please don't let these 'mega' fun parks ruin the beauty of Bali, you don't need a Disneyland or indoor snow slide in Bali."
• Barry Hyland of Crows Nest, N.S.W., Australia told us:
"I'm horrified by the suggestion that Bali needs a crass tourist facility like Disneyland. My family and I have holidayed in Bali around nine times from Sydney, and believe it is near perfect. What could be improved is the cleanliness of the beaches, with rubbish collected from the sand and the shoreline. Also, the open drains and state of the footpaths, which are dangerous."
• Diah, a Balinese reader was most upset at the suggestion that Bali culture might take a back seat to more modern cultural attractions:
"I'm Balinese and I realize so many things happen in Bali, but 'dunia fantasi' - what a stupid idea! If you want a family tourism objects like that just go to Jakarta or somewhere else – don’t come to Bali if you what that kind of 'modernity.' We, the Balinese people, need more support to keep our traditional culture and the holy spiritual value of our land."
• Carole Ste-Marie had this to say:
"My question is: if we are to find in Bali what we can find elsewhere, why bother going to Bali? It has to remain distinct. Although amusement parks are fun, people seem to have forgotten that they can live without all trivialities."
Has Anyone Seen Our Tourists?
Our examination of the effect of growing tourist numbers in the face of declining length of stays and lower spending [Has Anyone Seen Our Tourists?] brought the following responses:
• Sue Rodger asked the following question:
"Could it also be that the number of shops and restaurants has grown and now there are so many there are actually too many? If tourists are spending shorter time here then there are only so many shops and restaurants you can visit in that time!"
• Bob from Australia offered an alternative suggestion as to the cause of seeming anomaly of "missing tourists" in Bali:
"I am a regular traveler to Bali and am often told from locals that business is still very quiet. So it is hard to believe Bali is booming with tourists.
Friends of mine traveled recently and were so disappointed in Bali. They said it isn't the bargain place to buy things, not the way it used to be! We must remember this was one of the reasons people once flocked to Bali.
I, too, have experienced over the last few years that things have gone up a lot in price at all levels, especially at markets. It's like vendors having sold so little over the bad years are now trying to catch up on past losses. Maybe understandable but it's not going to get tourists spending up.
Apart from inflation running high, some businesses are trying too hard to recover their past loses. In the past, things were cheap but a lot of things were sold. My friends were amazed to find markets were not much cheaper than shops but without the quality.
This is what I think we call in the west, Hyper Inflation, the worst sort of inflation.
I fear Bali's 'inflation' is actually this 'hyper inflation,' where a sick economy is trying to recover but instead of reducing prices to encourage demand, you start increasing prices to recover your business losses but sadly this only decreases demand, discouraging people to buy.
Bali needs people returning and to reduce prices to make it the buying holiday it has always been. It will be very hard at first, but in the long run prices will naturally increase, as the demand increases and outstrips supply. At the moment there is a lot of everything at too high a price and it seems without many big spenders."
• Leenie took another perspective:
”Seems that the $25 on arrival is having an effect on people staying any length of time. It's quite costly if there is a family of 4 to 5, this all adds to the cost of a stay in Bali. I don't understand why the government doesn't understand this? Or, if it does, it doesn't take any notice that the locals are suffering big time. This saddens me. Also if you don't have $25 when you arrive and us your credit card you are charged for a cash advance. This is not good either, many of my friends have been very upset by this."
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