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Bali Tourism Facing Grave Environmental Challenge

Colliers Indonesia International Sees Bali Tourism Bogged Down in Environmental Issues

Colliers International Indonesia – part of the large commercial real estate organization and property consultancy is warning that Bali's hold on its position as a leading world tourism destination may be under severe threat.

As reported by Kompas.com, research conducted by Colliers International Indonesia suggests that Bali’s tourism sector is experiencing a downturn precipitated by plastic trash and other environmental problems, including traffic congestion, shoreline erosion, and a rising crime rate. Ferry Salanto, a Senior Associate at Colliers International Indonesia, believes these environmental factors have slowed the hotel business sector in Bali in 2019 as compared with years from the recent past. Looking ahead to 2020, Salanto said the challenges to growth for Bali’s tourism sector will continue to loom large.

Bali and the whole of Indonesia are often in the news with information about the problems created by trash, plastic waste,  and environmental pollution. Bali, because it is well known internationally, becomes the focus of critical media coverage as tourists complain regarding plastic waste and poor trash management.

There are other formidable challenges facing Bali tourism in 2020. Chief among these is the high cost of domestic airfares which has caused a dramatic decrease in domestic arrivals to Bali since early 2019. In order of importance, the next challenge affecting Bali tourism is the continued downturn in Mainland Chinese visitors to Bali following furtive efforts by Provincial administrators to end the practice of “zero-dollar tourism” and the continuing trade dispute between the USA and China that is contributing a degree of uncertainty to the Chinese outbound travel market.

Lurking as a potential further threat to Bali tourism is a seminal territorial dispute between Indonesia and the People’s Republic of China over the territorial waters surrounding the Natuna Archipelago. If that dispute results in an escalation and "shots fired" between the Indonesian Navy and PRC Coast Card, nationalistic sentiments could cause inbound tourism to Bali from Mainland China to come to a screeching halt.

The sharp decline in Chinese tourists to Bali was also alluded to by the Founder and CEO of Hotel Investment Strategies LLC, Ross Woods, who underlined the decline from 1.4 million visitors in 2018 to 1.17 million visitors in 2019 – a decline of 14% (See Related Article Link below). Wood projects that Chinese arrivals to Bali will likely continue to decline in 2020 by perhaps as much as 5%.

Another less obvious challenge to Bali tourism is the Government’s 10 New Bali Campaign that is impacting Bali arrivals as visitors are, to at least some extent, being diverted to destinations in Indonesia other than Bali. This is reflected by the recent ranking of Bali as #2 in terms of popularity as a domestic tourism destination in 2019 after Jakarta based on bookings made with Agoda.com.

Collier’s Ferry Salanto points out that Bali must urgently address quality issues affecting the Island if it wants to preserve its long-held reputation as a leading tourism destination.

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