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Making the Sacred Less Profane

Bali Chairman of Tour Operators Association Explains Why the Island's Most Sacred Temple of Besakih is Absent from Local Tour Activities

Bali News: Bali, Indonesia, Karangasem, Besakih temple, Ketut Ardana, illegal guides, Sangeh, Kintamani, World Geopark
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The Jakarta Post quotes the chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA-Bali) Ketut Ardana who admits that many tour and travel agencies avoid or limit offering Bali's Mother Temple of Besakih due to poor service, inadequate infrastructure and the resulting negative customer experience.

Ardana said that, like many destinations on Bali, Pura Besakih need a revamped focus on visitor satisfaction in order not to be blacklisted from tour itineraries.

Ardana acceded that although Besakih was of keen interest to tourists, aggressive and coercive free-lance guides and parking attendants who charge high fees have taken the shine off the "Besakih experience." He also noted large quantities of trash and debris at Besakih that is left unattended after the frequent ceremonies held at the temple complex.

“We've took Besakih off our list several years ago. We’ve actually filed complaints about these issues, but the management (of the complex) has not done anything significant,” Ardana explained.

Adana said it was always possible for local communities to take the necessary steps to redeem a destination's reputation, citing Kintamani and Sangeh where services have recently improved.

The hilltop location of Kintamani was plagued by boat operators offering trips on lake while charging illegal fees, an abundance of trash and insistent beggars and street vendors that were a vexation to tourist visitors. Over the past three years, however, steps by local and the government to improve services and the designation of the area as a World Geopark has done much to restore Kintamani's reputation of the regency of Bangli's top tourism destination.

Similarly, the Sangeh monkey forest has seen the number of complaints from tourists decline following clean-up efforts and the introduction of steps to control contact between visitors and the site's monkeys.

Said Ardana, "We consider Sangeh a safe and comfortable place for tourists.”

Hoping that improvements could be also introduced at the Besakih Temple complex, Ardana called on the Karanasem regency administration to control local tour guides and their aggressive behavior towards visitors could be addressed.

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