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Mass Tourism – A Good Fit for Bali?

Leaders Weigh In on Whether Current Efforts to Grow Arrival Numbers Will Benefit Balinese Culture and Tourism.

(6/16/2007) A recent article in the Indonesian-language NusaBali suggests that natural carrying capacity limits imposed by Bali's infrastructure and the innate sensitivity of local culture dictate that mass tourism should not be part of Bali's long-term tourism plans.

I Putu Anom, the Chairman of the Tourism Studies Program at Bali's Udayana University called for an urgent creation of an alternative to the current trend to develop mass tourism to Bali. The Educator argues that the Island's infrastructure, land reserves and water supply will not sustain mass tourism. He contends that other tourism approaches, such as Ecotourism, will bring tourist staying longer but in lesser numbers and are therefore more environmentally sustainable.

A dissenting view was offered by John Ketut Panca, past-Chairman of the Society of Indonesian Professional Conference Organizers (SIPCO), who said a means must be found to handle both mass markets and more elite jet setters in order that all levels of Balinese society can materially benefit from the Island's tourism industry.

Commenting separately, Al Purwa, Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA), supported Anom’s view saying that tourism practitioners need to asses if Bali can realistically support mass tourism. Current efforts to seek higher arrival numbers in the absence of a clear infrastructure development plan need to be urgently reviewed.