Bali Real Estate: Boom or Bust
Our Editorial questioning the wisdom of liberalizing property ownership for foreigners in Bali
[Bali Real Estate: Boom or Bust] brought a torrent of emails :
- Dave Van Rooy in Ubud said:
"I couldn't agree more, though you presented it much more eloquently than I would. Ever since news of this new policy started, it struck dread into my heart for this beloved island and its people. Please keep beating that drum and stop the greedies from ruling everything."
- Wendy Foldes contributed:
"YIKES! DON'T do it. There are so many other ways the Balinese could be given more financial and educational advancement. I am an American who wishes to retire in Bali. I respect the culture of the Balinese and the island will NEVER be the same if the property rules loosen this much. Please, Please, Please, do not do this."
- Another Ubud resident, Roy Thompson wrote:
"A BRILLIANT editorial! A million thanks for having the courage to write it!"
- Down the hill on the beach in Sanur, Phil Wilson, had this to say:
"Excellent article on land ownership, particularly the Hawaii experience - well done."
- Striking the same tone, Jorgy added:
"Please leave Bali to the Balinese, do not turn it into an Hawaii."
- Bruce Wyder wrote in:
"I think it would not be in the Balinese best interest to change the law. Balinese are people of the earth and if the earth is taken away from them, what do they become? The way it is now is fine; some ill advised people want short time gain for long time pain.
Changes to Indonesia's Visa on Arrival Rule
Coverage of the sudden termination of the 7-day Visa on arrival [Changes to Indonesia's Visa on Arrival Rule] also caused people to rush to their computer keyboards.
- Brian Grant had the following comments:
"This is just another way of ripping off even more money from tourists, it seems to me to be no different to ever increasing prices anywhere we go these days with prices going up on almost a monthly basis. I have noticed these price increases getting more and more the past few months and I have heard tourists even noticing these increases plus the ever increasing street massage girls annoying passers by not to mention the power blackouts. Bali will lose it's popularity unless these problems are addressed quickly as I personally know of many friends who used to come here regularly, will not come back anymore because Bali is overflowing with greed and corruption and obviously a government who have no idea how to run the island properly apart from greed.....it is sad seeing Bali going the wrong way."
Has Development Run Amok in Bali?
Our reprinting of an article on Bali's unbridled development [Has Development Run Amok in Bali?] merited the following comments:
- Brian Grant returned to say:
"All the while developers are greasing the palms of government officials, Bali will continue to look like Las Vegas....it is fast becoming a sad day for Bali."
Indonesia Considers Changes in Property Law
[Indonesia Considers Changes in Property Law] prompted Kade Lasiadi to speak up:
"I really don't agree with this change of land ownership for foreigners. The reason is we need to protect and maintain Bali as it is. Bali is the only one Island in the world with its uniqueness and divine nature. The island of Bali should be considered to be one of world wonder. Only Balinese people can make Bali as it is because of Balinese people living tradition, culture and religion. Javanese people can make offerings and sell them to Balinese people but the spirit of the religious being is not on the offerings. It is much different if the offerings are made by Balinese people, the spirit of religious energy is there. Bali has been ruined. See there are a lot of buildings that do not represent Bali architecture. Please don't destroy Bali."
And the Tide Rushes In
[And the Tide Rushes In] persuaded Rick Wright to contribute:
"If Bali wants to control beach erosion, Bali needs to start an effective permit program as well as remove the various groins, rock walls, and rock fingers extending from the beach further into the water. These structures upset the long shore transport which is the means by which sand is deposited along beaches. 10-12 years ago the reef crest inside the breakwater at the Nusa Dua hotel beaches was a live and vibrant coral reef top, now it is overrun with sand and sea grass with little exposed or live coral. The rock groins and finger piers may look good but they disrupt the natural wave action. Now the waves come in/out perpendicular to the beach which causes the erosion by drawing sand out vice depositing sand on the beach. It is not a global warming phenomenon."
Bali's Traffic and Mass Transit Problems Not Easily Solved,
Our examination of the complicated problem of mass transit in Bali [Bali's Traffic and Mass Transit Problems Not Easily Solved] saw the following letters arrive in our in box:
- J. H. Ter Bruggen said:
"Indeed, it will not be easy to solve the traffic problems. Let's start with the turning-points: For sure they prevent a smooth flow of the traffic, why not more rotundas? Parking; Why is it not forbidden to park on the By pass? For sure this will increase the flow of traffic. Everybody is talking about the undisciplined way of driving causing many congestion and accidents. When the police are talking about 3 people dying on the roads per day, why are they not massively present on the roads? Last week I had to spent a day in Sanglah Hospital where a good friend was treated for a road accident. I couldn't believe what I saw. A constant flow of people who suffered in motorbike accidents, coming in both day and night. Young and old, people heavily wounded, one missing a foot, and another missing an arm. I am accusing the police of negligence by not massively and aggressively trying to bring some discipline to the road users of Bali. All road users!"
- Garret Kam in Ubud wrote:
"Why not encourage more motorcycle taxis (ojek) like in Bangkok, where the traffic is worse. The drivers are organized, wear special numbered vests to identify them, and are inexpensive and convenient. This would provide employment in Bali, reduce the need for private motorcycles, and be more available (no need to wait for a full passenger load) for those who would need such a service. I take public transport in Bali all the time and it can be frustrating to wait. I would not buy a motorbike due to the dangers of traffic, plus the fact that although it may be easy to get a motorbike at first with a low payment, many people I know cannot afford the monthly installments and eventually have the vehicles taken away from them."
Views Made by Fools Like Me, But Only God Can Make a Tree
Coverage of how the Hotel Ramada Camakila in Bali cut down trees to create for better views for their guests [Views Made by Fools Like Me, But Only God Can Make a Tree] got some very tree defenders to comment:
- Lynne Copp in Australia wrote:
"I say no to felling trees, what is wrong with the people today, I say save the trees and ban those whinging tourists!"
- Peter McNamara, also from Australia, had this to say:
" . . disappointed about the missing trees."
- James E. Gambrell wrote to suggest and threaten:
"Tourists should boycott hotels that destroy trees. If this continues I may start a new website named www.BaliBoycots.com and advertise it heavily in Australia. I will soon be in Bali and I will certainly not stay in one of these hotels. There are many other travel sites posting warnings to tourists. Thank you for bringing notice of this outrage."- Trish from Australia chirped in:
"It is a tragedy that these old trees have been removed for the sake of a view. It would be different if they were diseased and a danger to locals and tourists. Can't the authorities stop this type of environmental vandalism?"
-From New Zealand, Patricia said:
"I can't believe it! to cut down a beautiful tree so we the visitor can get a better view, how pathetic is that. Do what the rest of us do when in Bali: go see the wonderful people, sights, sounds, and color that are beautiful Bali. If you want to sit in your room looking at a view- stay at home!!"
- Lynn Ellard said:
"It saddened me to hear that they are destroying trees which have been there for a very long time just to allow the tourist a better view, let the tourist get out on the beach and enjoy the view without destroying trees which if they are replaced will take many many years to grow again. Stop cutting down the trees. They were there before the hotels and tourist."
- Tony wrote the following:
"Bali is like my second home and has been 35 or so years. Please do NOT let resort operators dictate to the Balinese with regard to the destruction of ANY trees.
Cutting down trees in the western world is a 'no no' and should also be the same in Bali."
- Jeff from Australia added:
"Disappointing to see that graft and corruption is still No. 1 in Bali."
Indonesian Tourism – a National Tragedy
The reprinting of an article from The Jakarta Post by Anak Agung Gde Agung [Indonesia's Tourism - a National Tragedy] earned much thoughtful commentary:
- Serge Coulignie, a travel journalist had the following biting comment:
"Yeah, great story. However, I was in Holland 10 days ago and attended the speeches of the Indonesia Ambassador to Holland and Tourism Minister Wacik and his deputy. Please send them to proper education institutes and tourism schools first, because I have never heard so much crap before in my life as an international tourism journalist.'
- J.M. Ackerman said this:
"Excellent article with a solid plan for revitalization. I look forward to making a point of visiting the under-utilized areas highlighted here!"
- Nick, a frequent traveler from Sydney, Australia, offered these comments:
"Praise to Pak Agung for his recommendations for the development of infrastructure and growth of awareness in Indonesia's scenic, cultural and historical attractions. In simplistic 'egg and chicken' terms, however, without consumer awareness and demand for destinations 'beyond Bali' there will remain little incentive for investment in such areas. The expertise of tourism and marketing professionals should be called on to create nationally oriented, realistically funded, modernistic, but culturally sensitive global, regional and market specific promotional campaigns. Cooperate with, don't alienate, travel companies that have been supporting tourism to Indonesia for many years. Commit sufficient promotional budget to get the job done properly. There is so much that can be done (or done better) that isn't... What became of the World Tourism Organizations recommendations to develop a 'tourism brand' upon which all future strategies could be linked? After repeated (and almost annual) changes, the current "Ultimate in Diversity" refers more to the diversity (or rather, disparity) of Government and non Governmental tourism organizations working with little or no centralized direction or support."
- Tourism consultant Andrew Sivijs from Australia wrote to say:
"The observations and comments from the Author are compelling and, regrettably, far too true. My wife and I (and now our 10 year old son) have been traveling to the far-flung reaches of Indonesia (most of those mentioned) for many years and since my first trip in 1994, we've been watching and waiting for the vision and drive from within government to really set an agenda for Indonesia tourism and support it with sustained investment. Still we wait. So called 'leaders' at all levels come and go, poor planning and rampant corruption continues. I completed my Masters n Tourism Management in 2005 with Bali as a case study. Indonesia is an extraordinary country with Bali as a wonderful showcase. We will return to Bali once again in September and every time we do, I am nervous that we'll be the ones to finally tip the scale and send it plummeting into the abyss. Growth in numbers is a good 'sell' to decision makers, but dig deeper into the value of those numbers. Without serious and committed intervention by government, planners and resource managers, there is every indication Bali will be beyond environmental and social repair within a generation. The 'model' that Indonesia has wanted to replicate 'across the region' as a successful tourism scenario may be one held at arms length. Magnificent geography and wildlife, fascinating cultures and historic contexts like no other. But limited vision, woeful access and infrastructure and tenuous security all threaten to strand a beautiful country and send it behind other successful Asian destinations. What will change on 2010? Still we watch and wait. Ooroo"
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