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Seeking Their Share of the Tourism Pie

Bedugul Residents Preparing to Levy 'Special' Charge for People Passing Through their Village When Entering the Botanical Gardens.

(5/16/2011) Large public protests over past months by local communities surrounding the Pura Tanah Lot Temple demanding a larger say and share in the revenues generated by tourist visitors have now set a pattern to be duplicated in other areas of Bali.

Bali Post reports that residents living near the Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya Eka Karya Bedugul) in the village of Candi Kuning are threatening to close access roads to the park if they do not receive a share of gate receipts.

A village leader in Candi Kuning, Made Mudita, told the press that villagers have never received any financial contribution from the Botanical Gardens, despite the park's thousands of visitors each month. "From the beginning, we have never received a contribution from the income of the Kebun Raya. This is what makes us upset," complained Mudita.

Mudita admits that the park belongs to the Central Government, but points out that the road that provides access to the park is owned by his village. Because of this, the villagers think they are entitled to a share of the park's income.

Feeling that their interests have been ignored in the past, villages have resolved to demand an entry fee to the park from every vehicle passing through their village. "Because we are paid no attention by the management of the Kebun Raya, don't blame the local residents if they stop vehicles to demand compensation," Mudita warned.

If villagers demand a "local fee" from motorists entering the park, they will be duplicating a growing practice along many Bali roads where local villages impose "access fees."

Mudita said the villager have little care if they are accused of damaging Bali's tourism image. He defends the proposed action saying it is necessary to open the eyes of the park's management to the plight of the surrounding community at Candi Kuning. Mudita bitterly complained that to date the only contribution received by his fellow villagers form the Kebun Raya is the trash and refuse left in their community by its many visitors. "Let's let everyone know that we never receive any consideration. All we get is rubbish," he protested.

Mudita has sent a letter requesting a contribution for village development and rubbish control, but to no avail. He said all the rubbish generated from the park accumulates in the village of Candi Kuning resulting in the pollution of the nearby lake.

In addition to complaining about the lack of a financial contributions from the park, the villagers are also raising questions about the building of villas within the confines of the Kebun Raya. The villagers claim they should be given the first right to operate villas in the park instead of seeing that privilege going straight to those in the central government.