Thursday, September 2, 2010

Over-explotation of Bali

Indonesia has a many attractive places for local and foreign tourists to visit, the most popular one being the Island of Bali.

Please find below an article about Bali written by Anak Agung Gde Agung, former Minister of Tourism,  quoted from The Jakarta Post.

Is Bali overexploited?

Anak Agung Gde Agung, Jakarta | Thu, 09/02/2010 9:36 AM | Opinion
The answer to the above question is a resounding yes. Yes, Bali is definitely, and badly, overexploited. One has only to glance at the data below to be convinced that this is the current state of affairs there:

Bali last year had 5.75 million foreign and domestic tourists, which is almost twice the island’s population of 3.9 million (the ideal population based on the environmental support capacity is 1.5 million).

Of these 3.9 million “inhabitants”, the number of migrants from Java, Lombok and other parts of Indonesia has been rapidly increasing these past few years and currently is about 400,000, making the indigenous population only 89.7 percent of the local “inhabitants”.

All of Bali’s 48 beaches have undergone acute erosion, so much so that its coastline has lost 181.7 kilometers of land this last decade, which amounts to 41.5 percent of the island’s total shoreline.
In one year alone, in 2008, the satellite data showed that Bali lost 88.6 kilometers of its beaches, caused mainly by massive disregard of zoning and coastline laws.

This last decade, the average temperature in Bali rose from 28 to 30 degrees Celsius to 33. This is caused mostly by an increase in population density.

The number of hotel rooms, excluding those in the fast mushrooming villa complexes, has shot up
to 78,000 while the optimum number is 22,000, as indicated by the survey commissioned by the government.

A hotel room consumes on average 300 liters of water per day. With 78,000 rooms, this amounts to at least 23,400,000 liters of precious water used daily by the tourist industry.

The result is a massive shortage of water in various parts of Bali and acute seepage of seawater penetrating inland, with sea levels rising by 50 centimeters in most coastal areas in Bali.
Massive illegal logging is occurring in the forests of West Bali, endangering the island’s few national parks. 
Since 1983, Bali has lost 25,000 hectares of its forest, indicating a drastic reduction of one fifth of its forest reserves within a 20-year period.

The island’s pride, the Bali tiger (panthera tigris balica) is now long extinct and will soon be followed by its rare bird, the Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi) of which only a few dozen currently remain.

Around-the-clock traffic jams are now an everyday phenomena in most parts of Bali, especially throughout the regencies of Badung, Gianyar, Tabanan, Buleleng and the major highway around the whole of the island.

Bali has lost on average 1,500 hectares of lush agricultural land per year to the tourist industry over the past 30 years. Considering Bali’s small land mass, this is an enormous alienation shift.

The situation is especially critical since agriculture is the basis of Bali’s culture and land is regarded as
sacred by the islanders. With each land transaction, the temples, communal way of life, ceremonies and rituals of the Balinese who once lived on that land disappear in one swipe.


In its place comes a hotel, mall or restaurant that every day exudes an alien way of life, fast replacing the indigenous culture.

While the biodiversity erosion are caused by an overuse of natural resources due to an influx of tourists and changes in lifestyle are severe enough, the cultural erosions caused by the land alienations are more critical as they lead to the rapid extinction of the Balinese custom, tradition and identity.
Why has such a calamity befallen Bali? The answer lies in the government, both at the central and provincial levels, together with the tourist industry’s over focus on Bali. 

This has its background in the mid-1970s when Indonesia, short of cash, decided to finance its development program through tourism. Bali, being already well-known worldwide, became the prime cash-cow target.
Since then, little has changed. This over-exploitation of Bali does not only erode the bio-cultural heritage of the island, but tends to inhibit the development of Indonesia’s many other magnificent tourist sites.

Take, for example, the Borobudur temple, the UNESCO–recognized world heritage site attracted only 85,000 visitors last year compared to more than 1 million for the similar Angkor Watt temple in Cambodia.
Another icon, Toraja, known for its unique ethnic culture, was only able to entice 5,000 tourists in 2009.

This also goes for Bunaken, famous for its world–class sea coral formations, which brought in an average of only 10,000 visitors annually versus Thailand’s Pattaya with 4.5 million tourists yearly.

Is it any wonder then that Indonesia, with its countless diverse treasures, could only attract 6.4 million tourists in 2009, a fraction of Singapore’s 10 million, Thailand’s 15 million and Malaysia’s 22 million visitors for that same period?

To save Bali from further rapid erosion and, at the same time, develop the other promising tourist sites throughout the archipelago, the government needs to do some fast-yielding rehabilitation programs.
This can be done by picking a selection of quick-win tourist sites that need only a little refurbishment in order to bloom.

Such examples are the Borobudur, Bunaken and Toraja, which need only small infrastructure touches to turn them into world–class tourist attractions, as they already have the international reputations to do so.

At the same time, the government needs to come up with a relevant branding statement as a national marketing tool to encourage the right type of tourists to come and visit Indonesia.

The right type of visitors will admire the land’s culture and create a spiraling upward effect of similar tourists coming, provoking more admiration for the local heritage.

It is high time that such a move be made by the government to foster more tourist attractions nationwide and save the biocultural heritage of Bali, which is on the brink of losing its self-identity.

17 comments:

bolehngeblog said...

if I've noticed, people tend to forget Bali today with its own culture, they become imitators of western culture ... free sex, etc. is one of absorbing foreign culture and forget their original culture. is reasonable if the population decreases

Catalin B. said...

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colson said...

The article reads like a sensible analysis. Though I think developing other tourist highlights will have no direct impact on Bali. Immigration and deforestation on the other has.

I just wonder what did the ex-minister himself do to improve conditions when he was in charge


@bolehngeblog: Do you really equate western culture to free sex?

Anes said...

Best of development plans - is the maximum benefit for society and the environment.
So far have not done a comprehensive development, a mature plan came from the discussion where all parties involved.
But sometimes for the sake of something else is hidden, so the role of communities of all to provide ongoing review of government performance.

H. Nizam said...

Bolehngeblog,
I judge it! Balinese are quite strong in maintaining their art, culture, tradition and religion.
For that reason outsiders love Bali, not just for the beaches.
The sad thing is that there doesn't seem to be good plan for development that protect nature.
Re: the side effects you mentioned happened in other places, not just in Bali.

@Catalin B,
It's a pleasure for me. I'll check it out.

@Colson,
I also wonder what has the ex minister, originated from Bali, has done to improve the condition when he was still in charge.

@Anes,
I agree that there should be a comprehensive development plan accepted by members of the society.

Kiwi Riverman's Blogesphere said...

Don't kill the golden goose?

H. Nizam said...

Peter/Kiwi,
You can say that.

Yari NK said...

Harry, I am always unhappy to find modernisation, tourism or everything else you name it brings on threat to our precious species.

But I believe it's been never too late to replan the modernisation so the species living in the island can survive for millennia to come...

H. Nizam said...

Hi Yari,
Actually modernization doesn't have to sacrifice things that already exist.
We have all the laws that protect nature and punish violators.
But the great problem is that law enforcement is very poor.
The authority tend to ignore violations, and only enforce the law when the situation already worst.
Like many Kaki-5 hawkers in Jakarta, they start little by little on the pavement/trotoir but after some time they occupy side of the road.
Same thing with the illegal housings on the side of rivers.

waliz said...

sadto hear but bali..i hope one day i can put my step on this very spiritual island..ki$$ for u

H. Nizam said...

Hi Waliz,
It is very sad that Bali can be like that.
Thank you for the ki$$.

Luke said...

Trouble with Bali in my opinion is that is has gone the way of some parts of Spain and become a playground/quick get away for another country. Some parts of Bali are almost undistinguishable from some western towns and places I know, same for Spain. Spain for the British and Bali for Australians.
Thailand, Malaysia and other Asia countries are ferocious at marketing in the west and that is what keeps their tourists coming.
I have been to many more beautiful parts of Indonesia than Bali but sadly the one thing Bali offers is ease. Ease of language, ease of accommodation and ease of access. Perhaps too sucesfully. Banka and Belitung whilst trying to promote themselves clearly fail as there are not the flights, infrastructure or tourist information nor ease of access which would serve them well despite the beaches and islands being far nicer, cleaner etc

H. Nizam said...

Hi Luke,
You are right. There are so many other beautiful places in Indonesia which are do get the attention that Bali get. If places like Bangka & Bintan, Manado or Raja Ampat (Papua) can be developed like Bali I am sure more tourists will come to Indonesia.

TUKANG CoLoNG said...

aku sebagai orang bali juga melihat, pulau ini udah dimanfaatkan secara gag bijak. dulu turis kesini karena panorama dan budayanya. tapi sekarang, sawah, hutan, dah gag ada lagi. udah gag alami. dan budaya, masyarakat bangga bisa mengikuti jaman, padahal ini semua akan menjadi bom blunder

H. Nizam said...

TUKANG CoLoNG,
Sangat disayangkan pembangunan dilakukan secara babi buta tanpa mempertimbangkan perlunya menjaga
kondisi alam yang ada.

Budi Nurdiansyah said...

Nice article and also important...
Http://Budinurdiansyah.blogspot.com

H. Nizam said...

Budi Nurdiansyah,
Thank you for the kind words.