Tourism is Literally Killing Bali

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#1 Tourism is Literally Killing Bali

Post by fountainhall » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:34 am

An article in today's Guardian written by an Australian journalist confirms what many other articles on Bali have been saying. Tourism is gradually changing Bali and the nature of the Balinese. There are just too many of them. As soon as a new area becomes trendy, within a couple of years large hotels and resorts are being constructed. Traffic is so bad in some places that even the placid Balinese are becoming angry with tourism development.

Worse, water is becoming scarce. Tourists use up 60% of the island's water and it is becoming scarce in the tourist-heavy south of the island. Water tables have dropped 50 meters under parts of the island over the last 10 years. 60% of watersheds are now officially 'dry'.
tourism operators with deep pockets can drill further underground for water “literally suck[ing] up their neighbours’ water . . . The damage could become irreversible once aquifers suffer saltwater intrusion, rendering the groundwater useless for domestic purposes.”
She focuses on Canggu which she was sent to cover for a magazine 3 years ago. Then it was the new 'in' destination. Since then it has been ruined by development.
We could be anywhere – but we’re in Bali – and all of this is new. The rice paddies have been gobbled up, and this sprawling replica hipster-urban village has sprung up in their place, like the saloon set on a Western movie . . . we’re killing Canggu
I used to love the simplicity of Bali, staying in a hotel which was just a series of huts on a hill with gauze netting as windows and showers which were buckets with holes on a rope, the hope being there would be enough water left by the time you pulled it above your head. I loved the friendliness of the Balinese.I loved walking through the rice paddies everywhere hearing to the faint sound of gamelin orchestras. I loved learning about Balinese culture. I loved the almost ritualistic walk to a stream or a water spigot around 5:00 pm when men, young and old, would strip off and wash. I fell in love with those glistening brown naked bodies.

My hotel was just outside Ubud. I stayed 10 times in 5 years. Tourism development in the early 1980s was slow and concentrated around Kuta and Sanur. But over those years I could see its onward march.

I only returned once. In 2005 my bf really wanted to visit. I was hesitant but agreed. My heart sank. The Ubud I knew was destroyed. The ketchak dance we went to one evening was totally tourist oriented. It was nothing like my earlier experiences when I had felt a guest in a large Balinese family. I have never been back and nothing would take me back. I prefer just to remember the amazing island as it used to be. ... the-locals

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#2 Re: Tourism is Literally Killing Bali

Post by fountainhall » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:24 pm

(This was posted as a response to Jun's post underneath this one)

Bali was almost a paradise. But I suppose those who discovered the island in the 1930s, including a number of artists like Walter Spies, would have been appalled at how it looked by the early 1980s! To add a bit of balance to my earlier post, my bf actually loved the trip. I also have friends who visit every August. But they stay well away from the tourist areas and can afford one of the Aman Resorts. Once there, they basically just chill out and have little desire to travel around. They are not very adventurous!

I am sure if you avoid the densely populated tourist ghettos, there will still be parts of the island that are underdeveloped. When I was there the neighbouring island of Lombok had just started to attract interest from the tourism industry. I wonder what it is like now. Maybe like Bali used to be - although I assume it must be Muslim whereas a large part of Bali's attraction is its version of Hinduism and its very unique culture.

I suppose there must be some parts of our planet where manageable and sustainable tourism is practised. Elsewhere, it must be hard for poor rice farmers to resist the lure of big bucks for their land. But once the money has been used up over the years, they are left with nothing.

I remember being taken by one of the staff at my little hotel outside Ubud to see some land not far away at Sayan. It was glorious. A strip of clear land on a ridge behind some trees that faced west and looked out over a valley with rice terraces on both sides. There was no development anywhere to be seen. I was told that the cost of enough land to build a small Balinese style house with a garden and pool would be about £2,000!! With inflation that would now be about £35,000 I guess. But now there is no land. A developer bought some of it and built 6 luxury villas which went on to the market at US$1.5 million - each. Mick jagger bought one. Now there are more as well as a Four Seasons Hotel. Last year it was voted the No. 1 hotel in the world by readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine! That was definitely one of my many investment mistakes!!

Copyright: The Four Seasons Bali

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#3 Re: Tourism is Literally Killing Bali

Post by Gaybutton » Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:35 pm

Another example of people trying to make money don't give a damn about what they're doing to the environment as long as they can reap huge profits. To hell with future generations.

Stephen Hawking predicted humans will be extinct within 1000 years. The way things are going - greed and power taking precedence over everything - I don't think it will take anywhere near that long.

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#4 Re: Tourism is Literally Killing Bali

Post by Jun » Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:12 pm

Thank you for the post Fountainhall. It sounds like Bali was a fine place to visit at the time.

A few things come to mind here.
1 When looking for a southern hemisphere holiday destination, Bali immediately comes to mind. I'm currently figuring out when I might go there. However, perhaps it would be better to look at all of the Pacific region and figure out what other destinations remain relatively unspoilt.

2 Considering Bali is developed and there is no turning back the clock, they probably need to manage the island better. Increase taxes on fuel & vehicles. Put in a decent bus service, bus lanes and so on. If water is scarce, get the Israelis to build a desalination plant.

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