Killing the Golden Goose: When Development Should Stop in Bali

Explore Bali | Written By, Life on the Island | October 12th, 2017

There are some things that perplex me, some that annoy me, others that leave me totally astonished, and finally those that seem to make no sense whatsoever. The latest “Canggu Conundrum” is one.

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I have long been a student of tourism development and served on two planning committees of Indonesian tourism and spoken at around ten tourism conferences, so I have a little knowledge and some experience in the field.

It is important here to note that as a businessman I do understand we need to have successful commercial enterprise to make profit in order to be “sustainable”, but as an advocate of real environmental protection AND cultural protection, I know we have to temper our short term ambitions with careful adherence to good practices and of course to prevailing laws.

I have watched the “development” of Bali’s tourism industry with interest since I first arrived in Bali in 1979, and I have always recommended restraint, respect for culture, nature and heritage and a very strange thing called “sometimes just leave it alone”. Not every beach, river, field or hilltop needs to be covered in concrete in order to be “developed”. In fact most should “be left alone”. Not many seem to agree with me.

Bali as a destination requires that its intrinsic being is left intact. We must be able to see, feel and appreciate its fields, beaches, mountains, rivers, and forests in the natural environment, and its temples, houses and villages, in the built environment. We seem to have completely forgotten this in our desperation to “develop”.

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We may not think the “artificial” environment of Nusa Dua is great, but at least it is controlled, protected and visibly Bali. The current explosions of youth culture bars, clubs and retail outlets simply bear no relation to Bali at all, and this proliferation and expansion onto every square metre of land will very quickly kill the golden goose that laid it. For purely short term benefit that leaves nothing for the future.

The whole southern coastline has been blighted by tourist “developments”, directly contrasting to Bali culture, which I guess is okay as long as they stick to the rules. But they don’t, and in some cases seem to be totally flouting the laws, logic, common sense, and even basic business sense. The worst of these is now at Canggu Beach where the old, quiet, cultured, peaceful heaven has been transformed into a blasting nightmare of “clubbing”, throwing away the golden goose in exchange for a plastic duck. And now even the beach itself is being built on, seemingly totally against prevailing regulations(*). Who can stop this juggernaut of destruction ? Or is there simply no-one with a conscience left. Please tell me I’m wrong.

Notes :
(*) Please refer to “Bupati Bandung, Peraturan Daerah Kabupaten Bandung Nomor 26 Tahun 2013 Tentang Rencana Tata Ruang Wilayah Kabupaten Bandung Tahun 2013-2033”

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Life on the Island

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