Tourism in Bali
However, Bali s tourism development occurred quickly and without proper planning. Therefore, tourism has caused some serious damage to the island’s environment. As one example, the sleepy village of Kuta became a tourist enclave, with its natural resources degraded and its infrastructure overwhelmed. This paper will discuss the origins of tourism in Bali and how it has affected the island’s environment. It also will discuss proposed alternatives to let tourism and the environment coexist in a more balanced fashion. Description
Mass tourism in Bali began in 1969 with the construction of the new Ngurah Rai International Airport, allowing foreign flights directly into the island, rather than arrival via Jakarta. Three years later, in 1972, the Master Plan for the Development of Tourism in Bali was drawn by the government of Indonesia. The government wanted to make Bali the “showcase” of Indonesia and to serve as the model of future tourism development for the rest of the country. (1) The plan was financed by the United Nations Development Programme and carried out by the World Bank.
A consulting company from France, SCETO, drew up the plans, which called for the development of tourism in the southern peninsula of the island, Nusa Dua, and allowing day- trip excursions to the interior in order to protect the cultural integrity of Bali, the island’s main attraction. (2) The plan was to cater to well-to-do tourists from Australia, Japan, Europe and North America. The original government strategy did not produce the expected results. Instead of attracting the well-heeled to luxury hotels and resorts, the island drew many young and budget-conscious travelers,eager to see more f the island than just resort facilities. Consequently, the tourist industry in Bali unintentionally evolved in order to cater to two types of tourism: the “package-tour group high-spending tourists on the one hand,” and “individual low-spending tourists on the other. ” (3) Locally owned tourist facilities sprung up in Kuta, Ubud, Batur, Lovina and Candi Dasa to cater to the increasing number of budget travelers.
The big, luxury resorts pampering the upper- scale tourists were owned by big multinationals from both Indonesia and abroad. 4) It was not until the 1980s, however, when an oil market collapse forced Indonesia to promote other exports and investments that the expected tourism targets the government anticipated were reached. Moreover, after Garuda Airlines, the Indonesian airline, decided to allow foreign airlines to fly directly into Bali, tourism soared. Tourist arrivals in Bali grew from 30,000 in 1969 to 700,000 in 1989. (5) From 1990 to 1993, these numbers rose from 2. 5 million to 4 million. (6) Bali’s population in 1992 was about 3 million. 7) The rapid and unplanned tourism development of Bali has had a great impact on its natural environment, affecting water resources, increasing pollution and localized flooding and putting pressure on the island’s infrastructure. (8) There has been an increasing generation of waste due to the rising local population and tourist numbers. In the capital Denpasar, for instance, about 20 percent of the solid waste was not collected or disposed of. Instead, it was left in “informal” landfills, dumped into canals or left on the streets. 9) Other environmental problems due to mass tourism are deterioration of water quality in coastal areas and destruction of coral reefs, which are used in building construction. (10) Hotels have been built along the coast and other areas without regard to the water supply and waste disposal capacity, and many commercial developments do not conform to provincial regulations regarding the protection and integrity of historical and sacred sites. Candi Dasa, which attracts travelers wanting to escape the crowds in Kuta and Sanur, already shows the strains on the environment due to unplanned tourism.
The coral reef around the shoreline has been damaged by the villagers who use it for building new guest houses. But as the reef disappeared, beach erosion began. To save what remained of the beach from washing out to sea, “a row of monstrous concrete sea walls was built, worsening the erosion and adding an eyesore. ” (11) Because of this environmental degradation, Candi Dasa is losing tourists, and is “well on its way to becoming Bali’s first tourist ghost town. ” (12) It is not only the coastal regions that have been affected by tourism development.
Many large inland agricultural areas and river basins have been affected as well. There has been a steady loss of agricultural land, in particular the wet irrigated rice fields, or sawahs, because of the increasing urbanization and tourism development. (13) Ubud, the quaint inland artist’s village, has not been able to escape environmental damage done by tourism. As the town is becoming more popular, the rice paddies around the area are being drained in order to build more guest houses. 14) The best example of the impacts of rapid tourism development in Bali, however, can be seen in the town of Kuta, located on the isthmus south of Denpasar and north of Nusa Dua. Around 1970, before tourism exploded in Bali, Kuta was a small Balinese village of 9,000 people, with little economic or cultural importance in Bali. (15) Most of the population was poor, deriving its income from farming and fishing, although land was not very productive and the income from fishing very sporadic. 16) There were no restaurants and only two small hotels located in the outskirts of the village. The only potential resource of the village was the beach, although the Balinese had no value for it since it was not productive land and spiritually impure. (17) Although Kuta was by no means targeted by the government’s tourism plan of Bali, its location close to the airport, its beach access, inexpensive airfares from nearby Australia, along with the villagers’ ability to respond to tourists’ basic needs, allowed it to unintentionally develop into a tourist mecca.
By looking at the numbers, it is evident how tourism exploded in such a short period of time. Tourist visitors in Kuta (18) 1972| 1973| 1974| 1976| 1979| 1980| 6,095| 14,522| 18,010| 14,852| 36,052| 60,325| | | | | | | By 1980, a third of the tourists coming to Bali stayed in Kuta. (19) By 1975 there were more than 100 locally owned hotels and 27 restaurants compared to 2 and none respectively in 1970. (20) This rapid development of Kuta produced many negative effects on the town’s environment and infrastructure. Kuta became a “polluted, unpleasant, and diminished” town. 21) The coral reefs were badly damaged since much of it was sold for the construction of the airport and new roads for Nusa Dua. This was not only a loss of a natural resource, but also caused severe beach erosion of about 2 centimeters a year, and loss of beachfront property during high seas. (22) There were severe trash problems along the beach, much of it from plastic bags and drinking straws. As Hussey points out,”[a]t low tide, the wet sand is now a slick morass of trash, and plastic bags and straws bob on the surface of the murky waters. (23) Tourism development in Bali also has had an adverse effect on some of its wildlife. The Sangeh Monkey Forest, one of the most popular tourist places in Bali, is home to the long-tailed macaque. Unfortunately, bad management of the site and uneducated tourists have caused a “twisted relationship” between the tourists and the animals. As researcher Meredith Small discovered, these “normally gentle and friendly animals had turned into beggars and thieves. ” The animals “stood up on two legs and yanked on clothes.
They jumped on people, pulled hair, and rifled pockets. ” Tourists are warned not to wear glasses, hair ribbons, or handkerchiefs around the monkeys. (24) Food vendors and hawkers contribute to the problem. They encourage tourists to feed the animals. Also stationed near the entrance to a local temple are men who call themselves “guides,” who sell photos of tourists feeding the monkeys. Small describes the typical scene: As a tourist enters, a guide tags along offering tidbits of information (mostly incorrect) about monkey behavior.
At the first sight of a monkey, the guide pulls bits of food out of his pack and puts it on the tourist’s shoulder. The monkey, of course, leaps up. The animal quietly munches away, and the Polaroid camera flashes. The monkey is then shooed off, often hit, and the guide demands 6,000 rupiah (about $4). (25) The guides also bolster stealing among the animals: when monkeys pilfer a non-edible item, the monkeys are rewarded with bananas or peanuts, which perpetuates the behavior. It is thus clear how uncontrolled tourism can affect animals behavior as well as the natural physical environment.
The pressure that tourism has brought to Bali’s infrastructure and natural resources eventually forced the Indonesian government to impose a freeze on hotel construction in 1991 in order to control growth. (26) The government realized that the poor planning and rapid tourism development that Bali went through could in fact ruin the island s physical and cultural assets that were, and still are, its main attractions. The island’s government also decided that Bali needed to diversify its economy in order to avoid dependency on the tourism sector.
This policy divided the economy into three areas: agriculture, making up 32 percent of the island’s gross domestic product; finance, industry and services, making up 35 percent of the GDP; and tourism, making up 33 percent. (27) By 1991 exports had jumped 17 percent, more than half of the US$ 225 million earned by small companies producing traditional fabrics, garments and handicrafts. (28) In fact, traditional exports from small, labor-intensive industries, such as paintings, batik, silver and wood carvings, have averaged a 20 percent growth. 29) The government is also looking for more balanced tourism development, since the southern part of the island is being strained by increasing tourism. The island’s planners have solicited the help of a United Nations agency for planning a more balanced tourism development for the rest of the island, emphasizing cultural integrity and the environment. Part of the plan includes encouraging the Balinese to lease instead of selling their land to developers, and to assume new policies that “increase awareness of the need to avoid commercialism of the culture . . . ” (30)