In Support of the Environment

Where To Go | Written By, NOW! BALI | March 26th, 2013

Despite the much publicized environmental degradation Bali continues to be a top global destination.  Visitors fall in love with the island’s natural beauty and rich culture everyday. But love doesn’t seem to conquer all. The forward moving tourism industry still hurts Bali in more ways than one. But at the opposite end of the environmental backslide an awareness to halt the downturn blossoms, spearheaded by stakeholders of the industry. More and more parties are adopting comprehensive view of the industry as one whose survival relies heavily on nature.

Text by Eric Tiwa

 

Despite the much publicized environmental degradation Bali continues to be a top global destination.  Visitors fall in love with the island’s natural beauty and rich culture everyday. But love doesn’t seem to conquer all. The forward moving tourism industry still hurts Bali in more ways than one. But at the opposite end of the environmental backslide an awareness to halt the downturn blossoms, spearheaded by stakeholders of the industry. More and more parties are adopting comprehensive view of the industry as one whose survival relies heavily on nature.

 

Nature in Balinese cosmology is a triumvirate of heaven, man, and nature (Parahyangan, Pawongan, Palemahan respectively). This interlinking makes a glitch in any one of the three elements affect the overall balance.

I Gusti Ngurah Wisnu Wardhana, a journalist who has covered Bali tourism extensively since its early days, remembers vividly the harmonious state of life in olden Bali. Innocence reigned in the island, he said, and bad influences  were inaccurately perceived to be originated from outside. That was in the 70’s, in the advent of tourism. In the 80’s declining values began to pop up more frequently and, despite growing signs of distress, continued to get worse in the 90’s. 

The decline in the quality of living can be traced back to the expanding tourism industry. Along with a number of concerned professionals Wisnu Wardhana then established the Tri Hita Karana Awards and accreditation, to alleviate the deterioration in Balinese physical and spiritual life. The target is the increasing number of hotels and other tourism institutions who sit at the core of the industry.

Around the same time concerns over the environment, followed by a leaning toward an environmental friendly lifestyle, began to transform global tourism market. Efforts to standardize and monitor environmental conservation practices gained momentum with the establishment of international accreditation bodies and initiatives like Green Globe, PATA Green Leaf Program, and Earth Check, to name a few. Together they lay down the benchmarks, educate their members on environmentally sound practices, and in the process, strengthen global commitment toward what is come to be known as sustainable tourism. 

The green ways of doing business are definitely here to stay. So Bali tourism industry adapts. In this case the hotel industry stands at the forefront with creative programs to execute the green framework in many aspects of their operation. 

Establishments like Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel in Jalan Kartika Plaza in Kuta, which have come up with a wide range of green initiatives, from replacing its garden lights from 40W to 5W, caring for more than 25 species of rare and native plants in its 70,000 sqm complex, to making the hotel accessible to the disabled. 

All are instances of striving for balance in the traditional Balinese world view, as well as sound business practice and the ethical commitment required by Green Globe to be certified as an environmentally responsible business. For its hard work Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel has achieved accolades at regional and international levels. Others like Bali Dynasty Resort in Kuta and The Breezes Bali have won the highest environmental awards many times for their work on the human side of the industry. 

Being green doesn’t require a colossal undertaking. South Kuta Beach Business Association that comprises hotels, restaurants, and other tourism operators in South Kuta Beach district has recently made the effort to tackle the air pollution and traffic congestion in their area with the “Fun Under The Sun” Bike program that see the members promoting the use of bicycles which has been met with a positive response from hotel guests and visitors to the area.

 Meanwhile Hard Rock Hotel might always be closely associated with progressive urban lifestyle, yet it  shows awareness to Bali’s ongoing water crisis by employing a high tech reverse osmosis water treatment plant. It allows Hard Rock Hotel Bali to recycle water from daily operation into drinkable water that comply with World Health Organization standards. 

The same measure has been taken by a number of luxury hotels to the south of Kuta. Ayodya Resort Bali is the first hotel in south Kuta which has implemented the technology and put the reverse osmosis procedure to good use. Not only can the hotel meet its own needs for drinking water, Ayodya Resort is also supplying some of the desalinated water to the government and local community. 

Just around the corner in Bali Tourism Development Corporation Complex, The Laguna Resort & Spa has come up with an elaborate recycling strategy that includes processing rain water from their water tank in the reverse osmosis water plant for later operational use around the hotel. The Laguna also encourages their guests to take part in coral conservation a program it actively promotes in cooperation with independent organization.

The green commitment spreads to other parts of the island as well. Designers Tony Gwilliam and Marita Vidal built their own Bloo Lagoon resort in Padang Bai with environmental conservation in mind. Bloo Lagoon is the first of such establishment in the less developed Padang Bai area where the majority of people there haven’t even heard of the term sustainable tourism. In such cultural environment, the Tri Hita Karana Gold award given to Bloo Lagoon for its commitment to environmental sustainability becomes even more special.

In Ubud, Maya Ubud Resort & Spa became the first hotel in Bali to achieve the highest ranking ever in the Green Globe program. Two-years of hard work by the Maya Ubud Green team saw the staff and management striving to execute wide range of green practices from reusing linens, waste reduction and recycling, increasing energy efficiency, to environmental education and community outreach. 

So many individual issues are connected environmental problems in the island. Taking them on all at once is a feat no one dares to even think of. That’s why organizations like ROLE Foundation, Karang Lestari Project, Reef Watch, Coca Cola Amatil Indonesia and Quicksilver, Bali Tanpa Plastic, WALHI, Mangrove Society, BAWA, Wisnu Foundation, and many more, are getting on board, each with special focuses on education, conservation, and waste reduction.  

Now the line has been drawn in the battle to save nature and the lifestyle of the people of Bali. But nothing has been completely won just yet. Awards and certifications are but small reminders that the effort is on going. It would require bigger commitment and support to those who strive to restore balance in the island of the gods. 

 

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