29 Jun 2012
The tourist industry in Bali has urged the local authorities to adopt a unified tourism policy as it faces stiff competition from other tourist destinations in neighboring countries.
Bagus Sudibya, deputy chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA), told Bali Daily on Thursday that currently every regency and mayoralty had its own tourism policy, which often conflicted with the provincial administration’s policy.
“There is no integrated tourism program that promotes Bali as one destination. The government, the private sector and industry do not yet have a similar perception on how to develop, promote and manage the island’s tourist sector effectively,” Sudibya stated.
Indonesia is now facing stiff competition from Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia as new emerging tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. With a range of promotional activities and attractive tourist packages, Malaysia attracts 11 million foreign tourists every year.
“We really need powerful and effective management of our tourist destinations, especially in Bali,” he added. It was high time that Bali had an integrated and unified tourism management to preserve its social, cultural and environmental conditions, he added.
Since the enactment of the Regional Autonomy Law in 2001, the regional administrations have had the right to manage and explore their own tourism sectors, as well as the right to issue licenses for new hotels and to develop tourist sites.
This has led to the regional administrations accelerating development of tourist-related facilities to increase their revenue.
The resulting rapid and seemingly uncontrollable development has had a damaging impact on the island’s environment, as well as causing social and cultural problems.
“Due to unplanned development programs and inconsistent, conflicting tourism policies between provincial and regional authorities, Bali is now emerging as a chaotic and ‘cheap’ tourist destination,” Sudibya said.
The issuance of new building permits for tourist accommodation and the increasing number of available hotel rooms has led to unhealthy price wars among star-rated hotels. Many hotels have been built without sufficient research into the number of potential visitors, as well as industry growth.
“As a world-class tourist destination, Bali is now positioning itself as a ‘cheap’ tourist destination with low hotel room rates, below those in other Asian countries, and therefore attracting mass-market tourists to the island,” he added.
This was caused, among other reasons, by the oversupply of hotel rooms, currently around 55,000
“What we need now is to improve the quality of services — the airport, airlines, transportation, as well as security issues, to ensure that tourists are safe and comfortable while spending holidays in Indonesia, Bali in particular,” he added.
Ida Bagus Gede Sidharta Putra, deputy chairman of the Bali chapter of the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants (PHRI), said that a one-island tourism policy could be implemented provided that all parties showed their strong commitment.
“All stakeholders in the government, the industry and the community have to come together to create a similar vision on our tourism development that benefits all the people,” he said.