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Is Bali Tourism Unfriendly to Local Culture?

Bali Tourism Think Tank Chairman Complains that Island is Losing its Cultural Connection.

(2/2/2008) The Chairman of Bali's Chapter of the Indonesian Tourism Think Tank (MPI), I Wayan Budarmaja, recently told the Bali Post that the Island is becoming increasingly unfriendly to the Island's endemic culture.

Budarmaja complained, "there is a tendency as though the design of tourism is only concerned with serving the desire of tourist visitors, with no orientation to the needs of the people of Bali and their culture."

In his capacity as MPI Chairman, Budarmaja is calling for incentives to be given to the people of Bali to preserve their land, culture and religion in order that these elements can form a sustainable contribution to the Island's tourism. At the same time, he has called on tourism stakeholders from government, the private sector and the general public to find common synergies to preserve the cultural foundation of Bali's tourism sector.

The MPI Chairman told the Bali Post that the Balinese people have little say in the planning, development, supervision and evaluation of local tourism. He complained that the Balinese have become mere tourism objects and passive observers in the tourism industry when, ideally, they should be the central "subject" of tourism and active participants in the tourism process.

Budarmaja concluded by saying Balinese tourism has lost its cultural context. Tourism, he contends, is now only measured in terms of its business value with little regard for investing in the preservation and development of Bali's culture.