why are you important? Because you can be a part of the problem, or be a part of the solution.
It all depends on the choices you make as a consumer. After decades of
being one of the most popular tourist destination and one of the most
loved tropical holiday islands, which created a continuous growth in
tourists numbers, Bali is under pressure. Pollution, uncontrolled tourism developments, and traffic are the most pressing issues.
There are many pros and cons about tourism and particularly mass tourism, and many people have many opinions about it. One should not get tempted to point fingers in any direction. This topic is complex and in order to understand, why Bali's where it is, and where Bali could be in the future, one needs to look at issue from many angles.
The quote: Oh, Bali is not what it used to be, might sound appropriate and sad, but to be honest, which part of the world, that is home to more than 4mio people, is how it was 30years ago? Sydney has changed. Singapore has changed. Every city in the world has changed. Where there are people, there is change and development. Whether we like it or not. The question is: Can we achieve balance and create sustainable development - in tourism and all other areas.
One fact can not be denied: Mass-tourism is a part of Bali now - for better or worse. Bali needs tourism. And tourism has created jobs and income for millions of Indonesians - not just Balinese, who have a hard time to find work otherwise.
Society is changing
When you talk to the young Balinese it becomes quickly very clear, that the new generation simply DOES NOT WANT to work on rice fields anymore. This is regardless of the fact, that tourists find the sight of a hardworking farmer during sunset hours, very romantic, while they are sipping their cold drinks.
Bali is swiftly changing from an agricultural society into a service oriented society. And the island and its people have to adapt.
40 years of solid tourism growth have created structures and systems that heavily depend on the tourists. This dependency will not change. Therefore mass tourism will stay a part of Bali's future. How Bali will manage that dependency is the crucial question. How to create a Bali that learns from its own mistakes and the mistakes made in other countries in the world? How can all stakeholders share a similar vision of a green(er) Bali that provides for the Balinese and their children?
We all, Balinese, foreign residents and particularly every visitor coming here, can contribute to a sustainable Bali. And we believe, that the tourists have the greatest power of all. They impact every little aspect of the tourism business, because of their choices as a consumer. And they need to know about their power, and that this power comes with a responsibility. if this power will be combined it into one idea, one aim, then all other stakeholders will have to listen and adjust their way of doing business.
There are many challenges Bali is facing today. Far more than
many wish to admit. And if Bali does not get a hold of the environmental
and infrastructural problems, tourists will one day turn their back on
it. But there is no reason to be pessimistic. The Balinese have already overcome many challenges, and they will continue to do so.
The level of investment from the rich and powerful from all over
Indonesia is extremely high on Bali. Many people who do have the power
to create change once they are motivated to do so, have an interest to
keep the ship floating.
To be honest, although Bali is far from perfect when it comes to environmental protection, social equality, corruption, law enforcement, Bali is still doing very well overall - particularly compared to any other region in Indonesia.
The Balinese have kept a very strong connection to their religion and local customs. They love their island, they strongly believe in Karma and the idea that doing good is an obligation, and they are peaceful and very welcoming. There are many good reasons, why Bali has gained such an incredible positive reputation over the last few decades. The Balinese are their own asset. Nice beaches, restaurants and a few handcrafted souvenirs can be found all over South East Asia. No need to come to Bali for that. But Bali is special. There is this special vibe, that makes so many come back.
Still, it's an island surrounded by water, therefore land and resources are of course limited. It's in Indonesia - therefore a part of the developing world, part of a democracy that still tries to find its foundation, and by being the number one tourist destination in Indonesia, it attracts not only businessmen, that have Bali's higher good in mind - to put it mildly.
We are talking about corruption, greed, mismanagement, lack of competence, lack of political will, lack of education, pressure from the central government in Jakarta on local government bodies.