Fri, 08 Apr 2011

From: The Jakarta Globe
By Made Arya Kencana & Camelia Pasandaran

Denpasar. While most government officials seem allergic to criticism, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said on Wednesday that he had no problem with Time labeling the island a hellish holiday destination.

“We cannot deny it. It is a fact,” Pastika said “If Bali is allowed to continue [like this], it will become hell for tourists.”

In an April 1 article titled “Holidays in Hell: Bali’s Ongoing Woes,” Andrew Marshall examined the various problems faced by the resort island, from garbage to beach pollution and traffic congestion.

The magazine article covered similar issues to those uncovered in a Bali Tourism Office survey that found one of the first complaints tourists made after arriving in Bali was that litter was out of control, Pastika said.

“It is true that we are dirty, much more than other countries,” he said.

Pastika also said he had received numerous complaints about the island’s increasingly congested traffic, including from participants at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in May 2009.

He asked Balinese people not to become offended by the article or send letters of protest or rebuttal to the magazine.

“The facts are there and Time only wrote what it saw,” Pastika said. “It is a magazine with a high level of credibility. We should look at this as a chance for introspection.”

He said he hoped the report would open Balinese people’s eyes to the problems that urgently needed to be addressed.

“It should not be like it is now, where the construction of a new toll road is held up or the moratorium on the building of new hotels is opposed,” he said.

Ida Bagus Subhiksu, head of the Bali Tourism Office, said he was not worried of the impact of the report.

“It could even be positive. Tourists who have visited Bali might want to check the veracity of the report,” he said, adding he was gathering tourism industry professionals to discuss the appropriate response to the report.

“We will try as best as we can to ensure Bali regains its image as a heavenly island,” he said.

On Wednesday, Kuta’s famous beach saw a massive clean-up operation. “Almost every day, Kuta receives the equivalent of 20 to 100 trucks of garbage,” said Anak Agung Ngurah Tresna, who heads the Kuta Beach Task Force.

Tresna said the beach will now be cleaned five times daily, instead of the usual two to three .