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Bali's Tourism Future Under a Single Management

New Bali-Wide Zoning Rules Seek to Control Tourism Development and Centralize Development Control with Island's Governor.

Bali News:
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Kompas quotes the Chief of the Bali Provincial Cultural Office, Ida Bagus Sedhawa, as announcing that the provincial government of Bali has updated and revised the island's zoning and development guidelines - the (RTRW) - rules to be used for the coming 20 years. The new blueprint for island planning is targeted for ratification by the Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD) in 2009 with its drafters hope that the new zoning laws will bring development under control via a clear and enforced set of rules.

Chief among the changes in the RTRW is the re-introduction of a "one door" approach to Bali's development, eliminating the current fragmentation in rules and enforcement between the governor's office and the island's various regents and mayors.

Sedhawa is optimistic that Bali's culture can be redeemed and saved over the coming two decades via the introduction of the RTRW: "We are in the midst of trying hard to restore cultural tourism based on agriculture and the people's tourism. At the very least, we are trying to regain the confidence of the people in the need for spiritual norms operating on an agricultural base."

The Chairman of Planning and Development for Bali, Nengah Suarca, said that the RTRW, now in the process of completion, will not only overcome the disorder brought on by tourism-driven development, but will also provide a 20-year zoning plan designating specifc areas for investment activities.

In the 1970s, tourism development was only allowed in specific low-laying areas, such as Nusa Dua and Sanur. Development activity was not permitted in highland area, such as Mt. Agung, regarded by the Balinese as sacred. Over time, however, development crept into all regions of the island with little regard for tradition or consideration for areas deemed sacred by the Balinese.

The Chief Editor of Sarad, a Balinese cultural magazine, told Kompas,: "Tourism should not be made the 'black sheep' for the problems suffered by cultural tradition in Bali. Especially in Bali, tourism keeps local traditions alive, such as the barong, kecak, tek-tekan and gamelan. Tradition must also be able to follow the demands of development. Tradition with an agricultural face must be managed to become a tradition based on service, in accordance with the requirements of tourism."

In accordance with this road map, tourism objects, such as safari parks, golf or race courses, he suggests, are not in accordance with cultural tourism.

The General Manager of the Hotel Inna Bali, Maryanto, admits his personal uneasiness with the presence of so many starred hotels in Bali, seemingly growing in an uncontrolled manner. He calls on the development of starred hotels to be halted.

The Secretary General of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Perry Markus, feels that a thorough study must be undertaken before it is concluded that Bali's tourism is over-grown.

Compromise Ahead?

In a separate report, Bali Post reports that many are concerned that the new RTRW may only add to the current confusion and uncertainty in the application of zoning rule. Those expressing concern point to plans to give a three year tolerance period to buildings found to be in violations of the rules without specifying what steps and sanctions will be applied after the expiration of the three-year grace period.

The Executive Director of the Bali environmental group, Wahli, Agung Wardana, bemoans the lack of clear sanctions and the readiness to compromise via consensus in settling violations and disputes under the law. He said that the readiness to compromise will make it difficult to bring developers and government officials involved in the building of a villa complex in Uluwatu to court.

Wardana points to recommendations of consultants suggesting that set-back rules from shorelines should be differentiated between violations due to "natural factors" and "human factors." Wardana remarked incredulously, "in fact, any building that is too close to the shore line that is due to the interference of man."

Other social activists quoted by Bali Post claim the revised RTRW is too imbued with business considerations, putting the interest of investors before all else. Investments are approved for the sake of creating employment, with little regard for preserving local religious and economic interests.

Activists are also calling on the government to protect forested areas and preserve water quality on beaches, rivers and lakes.

Governor Remains Optimistic

The governor told Kompas that he remains optimistic the RTRW will run smoothly and bring Bali back to a one island management system.

Pastika said: "This is important to organize Bali's development in the future and, most importantly, to restore spiritual values in accordance with 'Tri Hita Kirana' (harmony between God, man and nature). We want to emphasize this plan is a much awaited step forward for future development in regencies and cities. Everyone is welcome to give their input during the socialization process.”

That debate will no doubt focus on sacred areas surrounding Bali's religious temples, considered by many as off-limit to commercial development.

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