Sun, 12 Jul 2015

In a front page report published in the Bali Post on domination of the Island’s tourism business by non-Balinese and titled “Bali is Left the Task of Protecting Culture,” saw prominent members of the local community voice their concerns and disappointment with the current state how Bali is governed.

A free translation of that article follows.

Bali is Left the Task of Protecting Culture

Tourism in Bali is developing quickly with this small island becoming the largest source of foreign exchange in comparison to other provinces in Indonesia. Sadly, the tourism shine has come off of the “Island of a thousand temples.” Bali faces many problems, including an uncontrolled growth in accommodation that is detracting from the quality of its tourism product as Bali becomes a cheap destination.

Just imagine that in 2011 the number of rooms in Bali stood at 62,000 - increasing 16,000 rooms from a total room count of 46,000 in 2009. This rapid growth in new rooms is estimated to reach a total room count of 80,000 in 2014. The resulting massive oversupply has left accommodation business operators unable project a positive return on their investments.

What’s more, the government is preparing to allow foreign nationals to own land in Indonesia via a revision of Government Regulation Number 16 of 1996 on the ownership of private residences by foreign nationals resident in Indonesia.

The Rector of Undiknas University, Professor Dr. Gede Sri Darma, DBA,, says the end result of this change in policy will pose a further threat to the Balinese people who will own an increasing smaller share of the assets in strategic areas of Bali. In time, he warns, the Balinese will lose their identity. Adding: “In fact, that is the reality of the moment. We, as Balinese, are left to protect our culture, ensuring that it can continue to exist. We need to be aware that changes in our culture are brought directly by those migrating to Bali. Policies that are ambiguous are the reason that Balinese culture is being destroyed.”

Professor Darma claims, policies that allow foreigners to own property are one form of foreign direct investment among changes being brought on by the ASEAN free trade zone of 2015.

He continued claiming it has become difficult for the Balinese to safeguard their culture in the face of an onslaught of global influences. “Culture represents an agreement or shared perception of people (living in a locale). Therefore, if newcomers take part in developing our culture, clearly Bali will loose its unique characteristic,” said Darma.

The chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tourist Villages (ADWI), Jro Mangku Kandia, sees the problems developing in Bali as the outcome of government policies For this reason, he maintains that it is the government's responsibility to restore Bali tourism to its original state.

Kandia added: “The government must protect the Balinese. It’s not only that accommodation is owned by foreigners, but also outsiders hold jobs such as guides and hotel workers. Moreover, in Papua, a foreigner owns a ship that is rented to visitors. This is because we and the government are being inattentive.”

The ADWI chairman said the government must protect the people and help develop a home stay industry in cooperation with local residents in order that local population can become the focus of tourism and not only its long suffering victims.

“I think that providing tourism training at no charge the public will stop them from being merely the object of tourism but also help them become tourism practitioners. If all policies only provide freer access to foreigners we will eventually be displaced,” said Kandia.

Kandia said the solution to the problem is for the government to demonstrate greater loyalty to the people. “Our people are loyal to the government, but the government is acting badly towards the people,” he complained.

He said that all along Sanur Beach, Kuta and Nusa Dua the biggest share of these areas are now owned by outsiders. He contends that this is also the case with operators in Bali’s handicraft industry, with most involved in this sector now coming from outside Bali.

“As much as possible, this situation needs be halted. Bali only reaps traffic jams, rubbish and other problems while the profits of tourism are being taken away from the Island,” he said.

He contends that the high rate of outside investment in Bali is to blame for this capital flight and its resulting loss to Bali’s economy. Raw products for items produced in Bali and those who make them are now originating from areas outside of Bali

“We are not opposed or allergic to outside investment, But Bali does not have a great need for outside labor. Many Balinese are unemployed because of competition for jobs with non-Balinese,” said Kandia.

He concluded, saying capital flight can be prevented through certainty of law and a regulatory atmosphere that encourages domestic investment.