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How You Gonna Keep Down on the Farm?

Tourism Village Development Can Reduce the Marginalization of the Balinese in the Tourism Development Process

(6/29/2012) In the midst of Bali’s unprecedented building boom of new hotels, condotels and villas there is a growing demand, particularly among European visitors, for accommodation options in village settings.

As reported by Kompas.com, this developing trend has elicited offers to help develop such accommodation options for varying sources, including Bank Indonesia, the Bali Hotels Association and a number of public-minded organizations. Complementing the growing demand for a “village atmosphere” from foreign tourists is the mounting resentment on the part of many Balinese, complaining that they have become mere spectators in tourism development dominated by non-Balinese investors.

Ketut Gambar, the village chief of Kendran in Tegallalang, Gianyar regency, said: “We have become increasing aware that we are just spectators and, what’s worse, we are being pushed off our own lands. For this reason we are continually trying to advance ourselves by managing our tourism village (desa wisata) in a professional manner.”

Gambar and his fellow villagers feel it is unjust that foreign tourists enjoy the natural panoramic vistas provided by their community without villagers receiving any financial contribution from tourism.

Admitting his village needs expert outside advice, the people of Kendran are adamant that the essential character of their area must be preserved. Gambar added: “Basically, we want to maintain the village lands, particularly the rice fields, ensuring they do not change their original function. We are hoping that local tour companies will become our partner.”

He said that his villagers were working not to be seduced by high prices being offered by investors for their ancestral lands. The current market price for land in the village is approaching Rp. 100 million (US$10,750) per are (100 square meters). Locals are attempting to only enter into rental agreements with candidate investors.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Bali Hotels Association (BHA) Djinaldi Gosana confirmed the growing demand for rural and village settings among Bali visitors. He also commended the governments “Desa Wisata” (Tourism Village) initiative as a means of ensuring a more equitable distribution of the benefits of tourism development.

Said Gosana, ”We (BHA) are supporting and providing guidance to tourism villages to help them manage their communities and provide a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors.”

Bank Indonesia and Bali Hotels Association recently undertook to provide equipment and training to seven tourism villages.