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The Mismanagement of Bali Tourism

Bali Tourism Leaders Call for a More Holistic, Inclusive Manner of Managing the Island's Tourism Industry.

(2/22/2010) Bali activist and academic, Wayan Geriya, says that Bali's tourism industry lacks holistic management. The anthropologist and long-standing observer of tourism on the island made his comments at a gathering of 50 leading tourism figures meeting at the office of Bali's governor.

Quoted in Radar Bali, Geriya said that Bali's tourism is in dire straits because decisions are being made without reference to the carrying capacity and recovery capacity, with too much emphasis being placed on quantity before quality. The results of this approach are inflecting deleterious effects on Bali that are both extreme and long-lasting.

Geriya identifies six basic mistakes that Bali is making in how it manages tourism:

One Island under a Multi-Management Systems approach.

An Orientation that Places Quantity Before Quality.

A failure to synchronize the development of culture and tourism.

The "so-called" three pillars of Balinese society (i.e. tourism, agriculture and handicrafts) are in decline.

Bali's international tourism image of unlimited goods is in conflict with the local reality of limited supply.

Taxes collected from the hotel and restaurant sector are not prioritized for the use of those sectors.

Also speaking at the same gathering of tourism leaders was the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board, Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, who complained that the process of policy making by the government fails to include input from the private tourism sector. Citing just one example, Wijaya told of how the visa-on-arrival fee was recently increased without any reference to travel agents who have committed programs a year in advance.

Wijaya said there are many difficult problems being faced by Bali's tourism industry. He pointed to the increase by 1,000% of the tax on ground water wells and the failure of the government to provide a viable solution to the unbearable burden this represents to local hotels. Wijaya continued: "How can the (tourism) industry follow such a rule when the State Water Board (PDAM) is not even able to adequately provide a water supply. This is a very strange situation. We hope the government will consult with us before making decisions and new regulations."

He continued his examination of poor public policy management of Bali tourism, pointing to the lack of adequate electrical supplies, inadequate air access and poor ground transportation problems. Responding to an enthusiastic audience, Wijaya proclaimed: "Just imagine, all we (the travel industry) can do is debate these issues in seminars, while no workable solutions are ever given. You know, we just make noise but no solutions are offered. Look at electricity - what system is appropriate to Bali?"

The day-long seminar invited a number of speakers who evaluated the results of 2009 and proposed steps and plans for 2010.