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Bali: A Victim of its Own Success

Bali Tourism and Political Leader Claims Baliís Culture and Infrastructure Can't Sustain Mass Tourism

(3/11/2012) The National News Agency Antara quoted the chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali), Tjokorda Oka Arta Ardhana Sukawati, as recommending that the total number of tourists visiting Bali should be controlled and based on the actual carrying capacity of the island.

“Controlling does not mean forbidding people to come, but to recruit tourist visitors based on the cost of accommodation offered to them. If we sell accommodation in our region at low prices, it's clear who will be visiting us, making the island only more crowded,” explained Tjokorda who also serves as the regent of the Gianyar regency of Bali.

Tjokorda did not deny that the current development of tourism in Bali is more focused on quantity of tourists over the quality of those visitors.

The PHRI official pointed to the extreme traffic congestion increasingly encountered in Kuta, Simpang Siur, Sanur and Tanah Lot. He also bemoaned that Bali’s electrical and water supply is not commensurate with the number of island visitors.

“As a result, supply and demand are not in balance. This situation must be controlled. If we continue to offer the same product to the same market segments this will result in the systematic destruction of Bali’s tourism industry,” warned the Gianyar leader.

He added that the booming tourist numbers also brings with it the threat that Bali’s culture and traditions may be degraded over time. Tjokorda said there are indications that sacred ceremonies are becoming increasingly defamed for commercial purposes.

“This condition, if allowed to continue, will reduce the price of tourism services in Bali. At this time, for the Asia region Bali is still relatively inexpensive,” Tjokorda said. He added that traditional values in Bali are being marginalized by the rapid develop of tourism.

“Taking Ubud as an example of an arts and cultural center in Gianyar, roads that once were dedicated to serve traditional requirements have now been made subservient to economic priorities,” he said. Tjokorda mentioned how villagers who once paraded en masse in ritual mapeed parades, must now walk in single file to allow public transport and private vehicles to travel down roads.

“This is the consequence of tourism development in that area,” Tjokorda concluded.

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