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It’s Not Kosher to Try to Make Bali Halal

Vice Presidential Candidate Sandiaga Uno’s Push to Make Bali a Halal Tourism Destination, Rejected Widely Across Bali

The Deputy Governor of Bali who also serves as chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali), Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati (Cok Ace), has voiced his strong disapproval for a recommendation made by Vice-Presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno that Bali be made into a “Halal” destination for Islamic travelers.

Cok Ace said the idea put forth by the man aspiring to be Indonesia’s next Vice-President does not match with the potential, character and tourism branding of Bali that have earned a well-deserved positive reputation worldwide.

The Deputy Governor warned that if the concept of “halal tourism” was pushed in Bali it could result in a reversal of fortunes for the Island’s tourism industry. “Because of this, tourism professionals in Bali are rejecting the concept of halal tourism,” explained Cok Ace.

As reported by NusaBali, Cok Ace said pursuing Halal tourism may be appropriate for an area with a strong potential for attracting Middle Eastern culture and visitor, but given the small number of Middle Easterner coming to Bali, the Deputy Governor said it made little sense to make major investments to establish halal branding for Bali.

The core of Bali tourism remains “cultural tourism” based on its Hindu culture. This also remains the main “calling card” for Bali tourism and should not be altered to fit entirely different cultures and lifestyles from other corners of the globe.

Cok Ace warned: “Branding (of a destination) can be ruined if we develop tourism concepts that contradict with the unique qualities and culture of Bali, such as pursuing halal tourism.

Cok Ace comments stand in sharp contrast to recent statements made by Vice-presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno who is urging Bali develop a branding of halal tourism. Sandiaga’s suggestion was greeted with widespread disfavor in Bali, including the cancellation of several campaigns stops in Bali when the community threatened to protest a planned visit.

Sandiaga claims Bangkok, Thailand have enjoyed great success courting the Middle Easter “Halal” markets.  Continuing, Sandiaga said he wants Indonesia as a whole to be developed into a Halal tourism destination that he insists can stimulate trillions of rupiahs in foreign exchange for the Republic. Adding: We want Bali, Indonesia to take advantage of the potential for Halal tourism estimated at Rp. 3,000 trillion.”