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A Governor's Obsession

Bali's Governor Pastika Shopping to Buy a Hotel for Bali.

(2/22/2010) After launching programs to provide a free basic education and health care for all Balinese, Governor Made Mangku Pastika has revealed yet another idea in his plan to create Bali into a sustainable tourism destination beneficial to the people of Bali. That idea, if realized, would see the provincial government of Bali and the regency of Badung owning a property in an elite tourist area, such as Nusa Dua or Jimbaran.

As reported by Bali Post, the Governor's desire is prompted by the fact that it is still extremely rare to find a major, starred hotel in Bali owned by Balinese businessman. Most major hotels are owned by business people from areas outside Bali or by international hotel chains. This state of affairs does not please the island's chief executive. In the same vein, Pastika has asked if the Balinese are content to become only room boys, gardeners or security guards at the modern and luxurious hotels that now fill their island.

The governor believes that there are many benefits, both economic and otherwise, to be derived if the government of Bali owned its own hotel. On the economic side, such a business would provide an income stream to the provincial government that will provide direct economic benefits to the Balinese people. Off the balance sheet, Balinese ownership of a major hotel would provide a valuable opportunity to preserve, protect and promote local culture in keeping with the core values of Tri Hita Karana. Tri Hita Karana reflects the Balinese commitment to maintain balance in relationships between all members of society, between man and nature, and between man and the Almighty.

The Governor floated his idea before members of the media at one of his regularly scheduled coffee mornings. In subsequent clarifications from the governor's office, such a project would not necessitate the construction of a new hotel but could be achieved through the acquisition of an existing hotel property.

Funding for a hotel acquisition could be secured via savings in the provincial administrative budget. Streamlining and cost-saving measures introduced by Pastika's administration in 2009 have helped increase deposits held by the province to Rp. 400 billion (US$42 million). Such savings, together with improvements in tax collection, have convinced Pastika that Bali could secure the money needed to buy a 200 + room hotel.

Explaining the Governor idea further, Putu Suardhika who serves as a provincial spokesman said: "Now we get nothing from tourism, because, for the most part, the big hotels and starred hotels are owned by people from outside Bali. With non-Balinese ownership the profits also flow to areas beyond Bali."

Suardhika went on to list the many economic benefits that would flow from the provincial government's ownership of a large hotel, including, dividends that would accrue to the people of Bali, tax revenues and greater employment opportunities for the local population. This is turn would provide more revenue to the province allowing educational and health supports started by the current administration to be widened further.

The governor is seeking support from provincial and regencies House of Representatives for his idea to allow the next step of the actual acquisition of a hotel to take place. The governor's office, however, was quick to point out that they have little desire to actually run a hotel, preferring to leave that to a recognized international hotel brand.