There are many reports that state the mass tourism, poor garbage disposal system, environmental destruction and lack of sustainability are destroying Bali’s environment and future… and there might be a little truth in all the hype.
This is not true of all of Bali, of course, there are many wonderfully traditional and untouched villages, settlements and areas within the island that have maintained their original grace and beauty, but it is the modern devils of trade, commerce and mass tourism that are the biggest threats to Bali’s once bright future.
It’s not just the rubbish lining the busy streets, the traffic jams or the corruption in the government that are starting to turn people off this beautiful island. Less tourists is not such a concern, it’s the islands sustainability that truly concerns me and the changes that need to be made to ensure it’s well being long into the future.
Is Bali losing its way? Perhaps. Are the local Balinese people suffering? Definitely.When all of this growth and development is localized to certain areas of the island where land, ocean, reef and history is being auctioned off to the highest bidder – the locals lose a little part of what is rightfully theirs. They lose a say in how their home, their heritage, their history is being changed and developed and they don’t see much of the profit either.
Both International and Indonesian investors are making billions of dollars off high rise hotels, beaches and tourism whilst giving little thought to the local businesses they are leaving crushed in their wake. These investors (both wealthy Indonesian and international) take advantage of cheap labour, cheap staff and cheap products and rake in a fortune without taking care of the environment, they dump their rubbish in the waterways, they destroy the forests, they damage the beaches, they don’t think about sustainability but instead about profit here and now… but where does that profit go when what is so beautiful now is being destroyed by carelessness?
Corruption is indeed a problem in Indonesia as a whole and the authorities in Bali are certainly not innocent. Corruption is a direct result of mass commerce and trade, it is a direct result of greed and power and abuse and it starts at the very basic level. This corruption is found in the local government offices, the police even across some of the locals as they fight to survive in a world that is run by those with money, they try to get a leg up by conning someone else out of theirs… this means that laws aren’t 100% protected because the right amount of money can (and will) buy you just about anything.
Bali is a beautiful island, it is a tourist’s paradise, it is a haven for rest and relaxation. But underneath that serene exterior is an underbelly that could destroy the island in the future. As tourists what is OUR responsibility?
- Treat the island as if it was your home
- Don’t throw rubbish on the ground (even if EVERYONE ELSE is doing it)
- Respect the beaches, the wildlife and nature in general
- Look into responsible tourism, support local businesses
- Remember this isn’t a theme park, it is a gentle, beautiful island that is the home to many people and do your part to preserve its beauty for generations to come.
Some hotels and villas re already taking a sustainable approach to turism, among them you find these three eco-friendly villas.