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Predators in Paradise

Bank Indonesia Deputy and Udayana University Rector Say the Balinese are Getting the Short Shrift from Bali Tourism

(1/30/2012) A deputy of the Bali branch of Bank Indonesia offered a biting rebuke on the current state of Bali tourism in comments publish by The Bali Post.

According to I Made Sadguna, despite record numbers of visitors to Bali, the Balinese people are only reaping table crumbs and substantial negative impacts from the island's tourism industry.

Continuing his verbal indictment, Sadguna said: "There are many predators in Bali's tourism system who are threatening the sustainability of the island's tourism. The Balinese are only dispensed trash - be that physical trash, social trash, and even cultural trash."

Made Sadguna called on the island's provincial government to pursue quality tourists who seek tourist products and activities beneficial to the people of Bali. These steps, he believes, should include the development of spiritual tourism, nature tourism and similar activities that will mitigate the negative influences of tourism growth. Adding: "If this can be achieved, the income of the people will increase, the economy will grow rapidly, inflation will be low and employment opportunities will be created. Economic growth will become sustainable."

Lending support to Sadguna's viewpoint was the rector of the Udayana University, Prof. Dr. I Made Bakta. The man in charge of Bali's largest institution of higher education said the bounty of Bali tourism is only enjoyed by a small select group resulting in economic disparities that are unfair. "We (the people of Bali) only earn small dribbles (of prosperity) and negative outcomes, because the enjoyment accrues to people from outside Bali." said Bakta.

The educator said community leaders have to get a new focus on sustainable tourism. "We must not only play the role of receiving donations when (in fact) it's the regulations that need to be redrawn," said Bakta

Bakta also that tourism stakeholders must not only pursue quantity, but also quality in tourism in the form of tourist visitors with higher spending levels. "In addition to seeking quality visitors, Bali must also develop tourism with a positive impact. Through products such as spiritual tourism, nature tourism and alike the negative impact of tourism can be reduced," he explained.

This can be achieved, he believes, if the government, academics, tourism industry members and the people combine forces. 'I am optimistic that Bali tourism can advance, especially as we continue to have a high branding value," said Bakta.