The Guardian, in an article first published by The Conversation – part of the Guardian Comment Network, featured a thought provoking composition written by academic Angleszka Sobocinska asking “Who invited you to Bali?”
Sobocinska is deputy director of the National Centre for Australian Studies. Her academic background is in history, specializing in the cultural history of Australian-Asian relations, the history of travel and tourism and development.
Who invited you to Bali?” questions basic premises of the international tourism industry and explores the cultural degradation mass tourism brings to a destination.
Taking Bali as a specific case-in-point, Australians constitute 25% of all foreign arrivals to Bali where, she suggests, tolerance and resiliency may be coming to an end as cross-cultural, environmental and social tensions are on the rise.
She also looks at growing demands on limited natural resources, such as water, on an increasingly thirsty Island where 65% of Bali’s water is consumed by tourism. As a result, rivers and rice fields are drying up and salt water intrudes into a rapidly diminishing water table. Meanwhile, developers eye how to turn a profit from the Island's mountainous lakes – Bali’s last vestiges of fresh water.
Also examined by Sobocinska is the rapid loss of agricultural land to tourism development, estimated to be disappearing in Bali at the annual rate of 1,000 hectare. Also under severe strain is Bali's electrical grid where an estimated 50,000 Balinese households sit in absolute darkness watching, from the distance, the after glow of luxury villas and hotels.
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On a more basic and perhaps crucial level, the Author raises question of cultural degradation, questioning how her fellow Australians and others have turned certain parts of Bali into a sordid and tawdry domestic destination.
A recommended read [Who Invited You to Bali?]
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