Bali struggles with the dark side of success

Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:44am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Olivia Rondonuwu

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters Life!) - Construction cranes on beaches, damaged coral, and floating trash in the turquoise waters off Bali are an unfortunate sign of just how successful the Indonesian resort island has been in attracting tourists.

Foreign visitors have been drawn to the unique Hindu culture, art and volcanic landscapes of Bali since the 19th century, but in recent years growing wealth in Asia has spurred new hordes of tourists from around the region.

The island has also used its charm to become a top venue for international conferences and events involving thousands more people, many of which take place in the Nusa Dua resort complex, south of the airport, where international hotel chains such as Westin and Marriott have taken root.

The flood of cash from these conferences, during which room prices surge due to tight demand, is prompting the bulldozing of hills for more resorts in an island that some people already think is far too crowded, with little or no thought given to the limits of the environment.

"What is happening in Bali now is over-exploitation of the tourism industry. A policy of selling it cheap, and exploiting it to the last bit," said Wayan Suardana, the head of local green group Walhi in Bali.

Suardana said old resorts should be renovated and that attention needs to be paid to a host of problems born from the surging success that include a scarcity of electricity and clean water, mounting trash, and traffic jams.

But instead, the local government has given the go-ahead to build a 200-hectare resort to host the 2013 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Jimbaran, a hilly area overlooking a beautiful bay, threatening farmers' livelihood, Suardana said.

In the Nusa Dua area, the small, winding road is misted by dust from construction on developments in at least three adjacent areas and streams of trucks carrying rocks and cement.   Continued...

<p>A seaweed farmer carries a sack full of seaweed as construction cranes and excavators are being operated to build more resorts at Geger beach, in Nusa Dua of the Indonesia's resort island of Bali August 1, 2011. REUTERS/Olivia Rondonuwu</p>