Bali To Begin Fighting Against Overtourism

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Indonesia’s Minster for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno, has issued statements calling for Bali to start mitigating against the risks of overtourism.

Bali is the most famous travel destination in Indonesia and is considered to be the country’s flagship tourism offering.

Ariel View of Nusa Dua In Bali.jpg

Welcoming over 6 million international tourists a year before the pandemic, the island is showing signs of the negative impacts of tourism, something Minister Uno says must be reckoned with quickly. 

While Bali has certainly benefited from the positive impacts of tourism in many ways, it is evident that the huge pressures the tourism sector puts on the island’s natural resources, infrastructure, and communities are starting to become too much.

Some may argue that the effects of overtourism have been felt on the island for the last decade or more, but officials within the government are more aware than ever that protection mechanisms must now be put in place.

Battling the negative impacts of over-tourism before it’s too late will help protect local communities, the environment, and, in the long run, tourists’ experience too.

Overtourism is defined by the United National World Tourism Organization as “the impact of tourism on a destination, or parts thereof, that excessively influences the perceived quality of life of citizens and/or quality of visitors experiences in a negative way.”

Examples of the implications of over-tourism include a rising cost of living for local people, and the redirecting of resources to the tourism sector away from local people, in turn reducing the quality of life and livelihoods for local people.

Environmental degradation, including water pollution, noise pollution, air pollution, issues with waste management, and the conversation of viable agricultural land and deforestation in some cases, have all been linked to tourism development and over-tourism. 

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Although Minster Uno and his teams have worked on increasing international tourism in the wake of the pandemic, data shows that demand for travel in Bali by foreign tourists is growing at a much greater rate than for domestic tourists. 

Minister Uno said, “I see visits continuing to increase by more than 80 percent year on year for foreign tourists. Meanwhile, domestic tourists are still growing between single digits or low double digits.”

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According to Minster Uno, Bali has yet to hit all the criteria to be identified as experiencing over-tourism, but it’s getting close.

He used examples of over-tourism in Europe and shared, “Even before the pre-pandemic. This is what reports that the number of tourists is increasing, and in the end, it has a negative impact on destinations.”

With this in mind, Minster Uno says that to mitigate the potential risks of over-tourism, great effort should be focused on developing “quality and sustainable tourism.”

These are principles that are not new to Bali, nor is it a new point of discussion for leaders.

For years Minster Uno and Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster, as well as other key tourism stakeholders, have been discussing the need for higher quality and sustainable tourism on the island. 

High-quality and sustainable tourism comes at a cost for tourists. While Bali is best known as a luxurious destination, the vast majority of tourists who visit the island opt for experiences and accommodations that fall within the mass tourism category.

This is to say most tourists stay in resort-style accommodations, visit the most well-known attractions, and participate in high-demand activities. 

What leaders like Minister Uno want to see is a shift towards attracting tourists who want to experience a more high-end stay in Bali, those who are willing to pay more for a vacation that promotes sustainable tourism and perhaps even stay longer on the island. 

Minster Uno said, “We [want to] ensure that the number of tourism visits with a target of 8.5 million this year starts shifting to tourists who stay longer and spend on the larger local economy. Bali, for example.” 

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