Bali: ‘Hotel moratorium fails’

Bali: ‘Hotel moratorium fails’

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Another day. Another piece of news on over-development.

The implementation of a moratorium on new hotel development in Bali’s southern regions is considered to have failed, as the regional administrations keep issuing permits for new hotel projects.

Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, chairman of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) Bali chapter, questioned the commitment of the three administrations in south Bali (Badung, Denpasar and Gianyar) to following up the policy issued by the provincial administration in 2011.

“The policy has not been well implemented by the regencies. As they continue to grant permits for new hotel projects, we can say that the moratorium has failed,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“I understand that it’s not easy to control development because the regency administrations still pursue higher revenues, thus continue to issue new permits,” said the former Gianyar regent, popularly known as Cok Ace.

“How can the provincial administration control hotel development, while the regencies are still competing to increase their revenues?”

His question was quite ironic, since Cok Ace, during his tenure as Gianyar regent, strongly opposed the moratorium and refused to implement it.

He added that the regency administrations needed to change their perspective and not purely prioritize pursuing higher revenues. “Indeed, the success of a regency is indicated by high revenue. However, high revenue doesn’t always guarantee the welfare of its people.”

Therefore, rather than continuing to grant permits for investors to build new hotels, he suggested the regency administrations develop community-based tourism, to enable the people to directly feel the impact of tourism. He cited Pemuteran coral conservation project in Buleleng as a good model of community-based tourism.

The rapid growth of budget hotels, villas and non-starred accommodation has transformed the island into a holiday paradise for budget travelers. Many new hotels and villas are opening in Kuta, Sanur, Denpasar and Nusa Dua, despite the oversupply of hotel rooms in those areas.

Bali has now more than 90,000 rooms, mostly located in the south. This figure has outstripped tourist demand.

In 2011, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika initiated a moratorium on new hotel development in southern Bali, encompassing the island’s three richest regions.

The moratorium was designed to tackle the southern regions’ room oversupply, as well as guiding investment to other regions in the north, west and east.

However, new hotels continue to be built in southern Bali as the moratorium has been ignored by regency officials, who have the authority to issue hotel permits.

Tourism advisor Warwick Purser stressed the urgency of reinforcing the moratorium, saying the island — particularly the southern part — had been overdeveloped.

“The policy should be reinforced. Stop new hotels for a period of time. It’s enough. Then it [the need for accommodation] can be reviewed again after five years,” he told Bali Daily.

“The moratorium failed because it’s not being controlled. It needs more than just words, there should be real action,” said Purser, who helped develop the tourism master plan for Bali in the late 1970s, in conjunction with the World Bank.

Cok Ace said PHRI was aware that many hotel permits had been issued, although not all the projects had started.

“We have checked at the licensing office. Many new hotel projects are in the pipeline, so we will have a lot of additional hotel rooms this year.”

He also said that many of the new projects were driven by property investors, as well as those who were suspected of money laundering.

“There are various motives to build new hotels in Bali, including possibly laundering money. This is a threat for the people who are serious about the hospitality business on the island.”

Cok Ace suggested that mapping was needed to analyze the need for tourist accommodation facilities.

“Setting up a zoning policy is urgent, to identify which areas are still have potential for new accommodations, and what type of accommodation suits the areas,” he said, questioning the development of some city hotels in Ubud, saying they were examples of unsuitable accommodation for the area.

The Jakarta Post

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