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Will New Tourism Projects Accelerate Bali's Decline?

Leading Academic Warns Plans for New Airport and Rail System Spell Disaster for Bali.

(1/31/2011) A senior professor at Bali's Udayana University, Dr. Wayan Windia, warns that the establishment of an international airport in Buleleng, North Bali, and a proposed slow railway to circumnavigate the island will only serve to accelerate the destruction of the island.

Quoted in the national news agency Antara,Windia said, "I don't agree with the building of a second airport in Bali after the main airport of Ngurah Rai or the construction of the slow rail system." Professor Windia serves as the chairman for the subak irrigation system laboratory system at the Agriculture faculty of the University.

The former House of Representative member flatly rejects proposals favored by Indonesian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, to build a 2nd international airport for Bali and a new rail system in order to spread the economic impact of tourism to all parts of Bali.

"The development of these new supporting facilities will indirectly accelerate the 'destruction' of Bali - from physical, social and cultural aspects," said Windia. The professor and acknowledged expert in agricultural matters believes that the coastal area of Buleleng is best preserved for developing agriculture to provide products for sale to the tourist areas to the south. Windia warns that the proposed new international airport in the north will directly or indirectly occupy thousands of hectares of agricultural lands for both the airport and the hotels that will have be built to serve the guests. The demands for land created by the new airport will add further to the current loss of 700 hectares of agricultural land to tourism activities every year in Bali. "Because of this," said Windia, "if the development of the second international airport in Bali is realized, then the destruction of Bali cannot be avoided."

The distinguished academic reminded that an international tourism study conducted by International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (SCETO) in 1975 stated the maximum carrying capacity of Bali tourism was 24,000 starred hotel rooms. But, today, Bali has more than 55,000 starred rooms exceeding by two times the maximum capacity stipulated by that expert study.

Windia called on the government to temporarily stop building within the tourism sector and instead turn its attention instead to the agricultural sector.

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