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(4/16/2011) Bali is proactively tackling issues of waste management, sustainability and community support, says the chairman of Bali Hotels Association, Jean-Charles Le Coz.
Keen to underline Bali's green credentials in the face of soaring visitor numbers, Le Coz pointed to a number of ongoing initiatives, as well as awards that this most desirable of destinations has garnered.
"As one of the world's top vacation spots, the Indonesian government is forecasting 7.7 million visitors in 2011 in total, up from around 7 million in 2010," said Le Coz. "This is great, but we have to be mindful of the impact these huge numbers can have on the environment."
Le Coz pointed to Bali's "Say No to Plastic" (SNTP) initiative, which has run since 2007. Volunteers assist in educating and supporting local businesses and the community in their efforts to reduce the use of plastic, and to re-use and recycle it.
"From the beginning of this year, BHA has also launched its own sustainable initiative: "Say No to Disposable Plastic," added Bipan Kapur, director of environment of BHA. "This initiative is being supported by the 100 BHA member hotels; ‘Green Champions' from each hotel have been enrolled to drive this initiative in their respective resorts," he said.
SNTP has also formed an alliance with Galleria Mall in Bali which will assist in educating shoppers on how to reduce their reliance on plastic bags. "It is this sort of partnership that will truly benefit Bali, as it educates the public about ways they can really help," said BHA's Le Coz. He also noted that BHA itself is also encouraging member hotels to show proactive commitment to the environment.
As well as supporting the initiatives above, BHA has requested the full participation of its members in observing Earth Hour/Day; in clean up days in Bali; and in collaboration with other environmental organizations and programs.
And as far as the hospitality industry at large is concerned, Le Coz pointed to local hotels that have been awarded international certification by global green groups. For example, EC3 Global, an international environmental management and certification company, recently awarded the Meliã Bali Resort the prestigious EarthCheck Platinum Certification. This makes the resort one of only five hotels in the world to be so honored.
"We believe the hospitality industry in Bali is highly dependent on the island's unspoiled environment and the culture of its people," said Jim Boyles, general manager of Meliã Bali. "Visitors come especially to enjoy Bali's unique cultural heritage; a better living standard and quality of life for the Balinese people will ensure the future of Bali's hospitality industry," he added.
Nikko Bali Resort and Spa, also a BHA member, has, meanwhile, undertaken its own green initiatives, investing in environmental programs and new facilities , as well as creating a campaign called "Nikko Bali Goes Green." The hotel also recently went through an audit process led by TUV Rheinland to achieve ECO HOTEL certification, specially developed for hotels that are taking measures to be environmentally friendly.
Commenting on developmental issues on the island, Jack Daniels, president director of Bali Discovery Tours and editor of the Bali Update newsletter, said, "While there's no denying Bali has more than its fair share of developmental challenges ahead, there are a number of important currents of change in the community that give long-term observers of the local tourism scene cause to be optimistic," he said.
"First and foremost, there's a growing movement of well-informed and motivated young Balinese who are actively involved in environmental and developmental movements. Developers and sometimes-venal officials can no longer act with impunity as their actions are now scrutinized by an unprecedented number of Bali activists and a free press," said Daniels.
"Moreover, the business of saving Bali is a vision increasingly shared by Bali policy-makers and the public—Bali's popular governor Made Mangku Pastika aggressively pushed through an island-wide zoning and spatial planning law in 2009 that is now actually being used to close non-conforming businesses and halt projects that threaten the island's environment," added Daniels.
"The governor has also been aggressive in pursuing measures to conserve ground water, reduce plastic trash and, most importantly, improve the lot of the Balinese through public health and education programs," he said.
Said BHA's Jean-Charles Le Coz: "At the end of the day, like every popular, successful tourism destination, Bali as a whole has to manage its visitors' impact, its hospitality industry and, indeed, the island itself in a greener way—and I'm glad to say it is doing so."