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Will Tourists Abandon Ubud?

Small Road, Lack of Parking Facilities and Disregard for Law are Spelling Trouble for Bali's Hillside Community of Ubud.

(5/3/2010) A recent threat by travel agents to abandon Bali's hillside resort area of Ubud due to traffic congestion is causing concern among those who would be adversely affected by any adverse decline in visitors. Bali Post says the regent of Gianyar, Oka Artha Sukawati, himself a native of Ubud, is concerned with Ubud's traffic situation and is adopting means of improving traffic flow as a central program of his administration.

Ubud's worst traffic congestion occurs between the hours of 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, reaching its peak at 3:00 pm.

The traffic gridlock is blamed primarily on the lack of off street parking with employees and customers of the many popular restaurants and guest houses parking their vehicles on Ubud's narrow roadways. Adding to the problem is the way many simply ignore traffic and parking regulations. Cars and motorcycles parked in no-parking zones; drivers heading the wrong way on one-way streets; and public transport embarking and disembarking their passengers in the middle of flowing traffic are only a few examples of the "its my village and I'll drive as I want to" mentality making visits to Ubud unattractive for tourist visitors.

Also cited as a cause of traffic jams is the daily visit by at least 30 large tourists buses to Ubud. Once banned from the village, these behemoth transports overwhelm the small village streets causing delays wherever they travel or park.

Oka, who heads the regency's government is also a tourism business owner and the chairman of the local Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), says, "as a tourism industry participant, I hope there is an appropriate solution to overcome Ubud's traffic congestion, so convenient traffic flows in Ubud are achieved not only for the tourist visitors but also for the people of Ubud in the near future."

The head of the regencies transportation and information department, I B Gaga Adisaputra, says Ubud's traffic jams are mostly due to a lack of alternative roads and the shortage of parking space. He said that a concrete solution to the traffic problem will only be found when the local people and tourism stakeholders sit down to work out this problem.

Ubud must devise a master plan for development to overcome traffic jams and other problems confronting the community.