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Call to Action

Balinese Tourism Leader Says Bali Must Act Now or Risk Losing Tourists


Bali News: Call to Action
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(5/18/2013)

An article at Beritabali.com, based on an interview with a Balinese hotel manager, carries the dire warning that Bali must work harder to enhance the tourism experience in Bali or risk losing the visitors who feed the island’s main source of income.

Nyoman Astama, with decades of experience in tourism, serves as the general manager of the Bali Niksoma Hotel and is spokesperson for the Kuta Executive Club, said that many tourism stakeholders are powerless to ensure the Island’s tourism is managed on a well-balanced and sustainable basis because  the government takes the lead role in these areas.

Astama, who recently returned from a joint tourism promotional road-show tour of five cities in Australia, said that he met between 100-225 travel agents in each city visited: Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth

Complaints and Questions from Australia

Some of the feedback and complaints gathered by Astama and colleagues from Bali hotels, tour companies and attractions visiting Australia included:

  • Traffic congestion is causing people to look for new tourism destinations beyond Kuta.
  • Many Bali-bound tourists are now moving to the more remote areas of Bali, such as East Bali and Pemuteran in the north.
  • Travel time from Kuta to Legian that once required only 15 minutes can now consume an entire hour.
  • There are too many cars parked on narrow roadways.
  • Many roads are in a bad state of repair and have dangerous holes.
  • Many of the road works and sidewalk construction are not well separated, creating dangers for both vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Too many new hotels are being built in Bali exceeding the carrying capacity of the Island’s infrastructure.
  • Criminality is on the increase, such as purse snatching, drug use and fraud committed by moneychangers.
  • There are increasing numbers of beggars operating on the streets and at stoplights.
Astama told Beritabali.com that because of these many problems, he encountered a variety of questions from the Australians he encountered during his 5-city promotional tour:
  • What is being done by the government to resolve traffic congestion?
  • Will the planned extension of the current Sunset Road beyond Seminyak and Kerobokan go ahead?
  • Are there cases of Legionella still occurring in Bali?
  • What are the latest developments in the war on rabies in Bali?
  • Why doesn’t your government halt the construction of new hotels?
  • When will the expansion of Bali’s airport be completed?
  • What is being done to reduce trash accumulating on the beaches during the rainy season?
  • Why are there an endless series of road projects in Kuta?
  • How is the sewage produced by hotels disposed of? Is there good sewage processing in Bali?
  • What is the lowest wage paid to workers in Bali?
  • Do all workers pay taxes on their salaries?
  • Does Bali have a public health program and pension program for its people?
  • Do Balinese workers receive paid holidays?
  • What’s is being done by the government of Bali to protect local culture?
Astama said that if all the many questions he received while visiting Australia were written down the list would become endless. This curiosity on the part of Australian visitors, he feels, demonstrates the concern tourist visitors have for Bali, its people and its culture. At the same time, the strong friendships formed between many Australians and Balinese is being threatened by reports of crime and violence that has many visitors worried that Bali has somehow fundamentally changed.

Nyoman Astama said that if the Balinese wish visitors to continue to come to their Island now if the time to take action! Similarly, if the government whishes to achieve its goal of 3 million tourists in 2013, he said those running the Island’s administration must demonstrate concrete and coordinated steps to urgently address the many problems plaguing Bali. Failure to take such steps, Astama feels, threatens to hurt Bali’s reputation as an international tourism destination.

The Balinese hotelier said the many problems put forth by Australian agents need policies and regulations to be put in place by government officials. Given the long list of things to be done, he warned that the jobs ahead must be ranked for completion in terms of urgency and priority.

Solving the Traffic Problem

Astama continued, saying the top priority items that must be urgently addressed do not necessarily require large amounts of money, such as finding solutions to the traffic congestion in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. If Badung administrators do not address traffic congestion in Kuta-Seminyak-Legian soon he is worried that the image of that area will soon fall victim to negative international news coverage

Astama said some of the possible solutions to traffic congestion in the Kuta-Seminyak-Legian corridor include:
  • Surveying where and at what time traffic bottlenecks take place.
  • Introducing one-way traffic during specific periods as a means of reducing traffic congestion.
  • Outlawing vehicular traffic in certain areas during specific hours, while at the same time providing alternative traffic routes.
  • Regulating parking on the sides of streets and fine parking violators heavily.
  • Outlawing parking on pedestrian walkways and punish violators.
  • Regulating hours for the delivery of good and materials.
  • Limiting the use of large vehicle to nighttime hours.
  • Evaluating the timing of traffic light and lengthen the periods for green lights to help with traffic flows.
  • Undertaking coordination with relevant government departments on working hours to help spread out loads on the road system during peak traffic hours.
  • Deploying more traffic supervision personnel on roads in the Kuta-Seminyak-Legian area.
  • Coordinating with local villages on street closures for traditional and religious ceremonies.
  • Requiring that signage be installed with information on alternative routes and advising on closed streets before vehicles enter the affected areas.
Nyoman Astama said he hope the input from people he met in Australia and suggestions he is personally offering will help Kuta area businesses meet the challenges ahead and help reduce traffic congestion.

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