Bali is being urged to focus on green tourism by developing more attractions highlighting the principles of sustainable tourism.
Udayana University tourism research consortium head Agung Suryawan Wiranatha pointed out that visitors from developed countries had shown an increasing preference toward destinations possessing beautiful nature, as well as continuing environmental conservation programs.
“These visitors view tourism as not only an act of travelling and vacationing, but also an opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture and its dynamic. These tourists want to engage the locals and play an active role in cultural and environmental projects launched by the locals. Therefore, they select the place where they want to spend their vacation in a careful way,” he said.
Wiranatha stressed that this shift in tourism perspective had gradually become a mainstream phenomenon in rich countries, European countries in particular.
“It has become an influential trend and if we want to maintain the island’s status as a top global destination then we have to tailor tourism development on the island to fit this trend.”
Providing support for the development of village-based ecotourism was one solution that, according to Wiranatha, would help the island adapt to the current trend. Yet, he warned that simply relocating hotel construction to the villages was certainly not a good idea.
“It is not that simple, it is more adding necessary supporting facilities, while trying to conserve the environmental assets of the villages.”
He advised the local administration to start developing a model for village-based ecotourism that the villages and tourist industry could use as a reference. The model should include principles that ensure the widest participation of the locals in all stages of development.
“These principles would ensure that investors with huge capital do not marginalize the local people.”
Wiranatha praised the local tourist industry, which has shown an increasing concern over environmental issues and green initiatives. A rising number of hotels had even implemented real measures to reduce water and energy use, as well as to treat their waste and garbage in a more sustainable way.
“But we need to expand these measures to cover all tourism establishments across the island.”
Bali administration in 2012 designated up to 16 areas as tourism regions. The areas are Nusa Dua, Kuta, Tuban, Sanur, Ubud, Lebih, Nusa Penida, Candidasa, Ujung, Tulamben, Air Sanih, Kalibukbuk, Candikusuma, Batuampar, Perancak and Soka. Five other areas, namely Gilimanuk, Palasari, Tanah Lot, Pancasari and Kintamani, have been named special tourism regions, where tourism development would be tightly controlled and limited to protect the areas’ environmental features.