Prominent tourism figures in Bali are giving their full support to efforts to develop Bali into a quality tourist destination through the promotion of community-based tourism.
Agung Prana, a senior tourism practitioner, said Bali did not need “modern” products to attract visitors.
“The island has fantastic cultural and natural assets that already attract millions of people,” Prana said.
According to Prana, Bali needed to address the damaged inflicted on the island’s ecology and preserve its rich culture.
Prana said he had worked on a coral conservation project in Pemuteran Bay in Buleleng regency in North Bali, for a number of years.
“This remote place, was once unattractive to many tourists,” Prana said.
Alongside the local community and international experts, Prana’s project was successful.
As such, Pemuteran Bay is now an environmentally friendly tourist site and an important research center for coral reef conservation, where the local community is involved in conservation and tourism activities.
“We now welcome international tourists who really respect our nature and culture,” Prana said. “Foreign tourists come to Pemuteran because of our success story. I don’t think Bali needs a ‘Disneyland’ or any other theme park to attract people to the island. Millions of people already know about Bali’s rich tradition.”
I Ketut Ardana, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel agencies (ASITA), said Bali had already developed a road map for tourism, which placed natural preservation, culture, tradition and community involvement as its main priorities.
“What is more important is the realization of its road map and consistency in implementing any policy based on the road map,” Ardana said
Members of ASITA are required to support green tourism, community-based tourism and cultural-based tourism, by promoting them to their clients.
Tjokorda Oka “Cok Ace” Artha Ardana Sukawati, chairman of Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants (PHRI), described the development of tourist accommodation and facilities as having shifted to meet the demands of outside investors.
Many investors with huge capital are now developing accommodation and facilities similar to those in Western countries.
“The rapid growth of apartments, condominiums and the Benoa Bay reclaimation plan have contributed to the explosion of outside investors, who might want to change the face of Bali,” he said.
The reclamation of Serangan Islet left many environmental and social problems. “The problems have not been addressed yet. Why should we not repeat the same mistakes with the planned Benoa Bay reclamation and development projects,” Cok Ace said.
Separately, Sugeng Supriyanto, owner of a travel agency focusing on European and American markets, said: “Bali remains a favorite destination for travelers from Europe and America. They come to Bali to enjoy its nature and to learn more about its culture and traditions,” he said.
At present, many of his clients opted to continue traveling to other places outside Bali such as Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara and Toraja in South Sulawesi.
“Some of have complained that south Bali is a crowded and unattractive holiday destination [because of the concentration of development projects].”
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