July 19, 2024

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The Way In Which Bali’s Tourism Industry Is Managed Could Be Changing

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The way in which Bali’s tourism management sector is operated could be about to change.

As leaders put their heads together to find better ways to create more culturally respectful and sustainable tourism and curb rampant tourism development on the island, some big ideas have been brought to the table. 

Way In Which Bali’s Tourism Industry Is Managed Could Be ChangingWay In Which Bali’s Tourism Industry Is Managed Could Be Changing

This week saw major tourism leaders come together in Denpasar for an event called ‘It’s Time For Us To Talk.’

The event was a round circle table talk chaired by representatives from ASITA, the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies Association, and saw stakeholders from all areas of the tourism sector come together to discuss what can be done to ensure that the island’s tourism sector serves tourists to the best of its ability while protecting local culture, communities and the environment.

Representatives from ASITA wanted to discuss the principle of introducing One Island Management, which would see all tourism legislation, tourism development, and tourism management operated under one central system.

Both academics and local leaders have cited that one reason Bali is seeing a huge development boom that many feel is damaging local culture and the environment is that licenses and permits for building hotels, resorts, villas, and other tourist attractions are all managed by different agencies.

Some permits are issued by the provincial government, others by the central government, and some by the regency governments.

It is becoming evident that sometimes permits, permissions, and licenses issued by different agencies are not always cross-referenced before being issued, which can create spatial planning issues on the ground. 

Some academics and tourism leaders have also been pushing for Bali to be recognized as a Special Autonomous Zone for Tourism, which would give the provincial government even more authority to govern what does and doesn’t happen on the island with regard to tourism development. 

The Head of ASITA Bali told the gathered stakeholders “Our thoughts from the tourism industry clearly support special tourism autonomy. If it can be implemented, it will change governance in Bali. So it’s not just Badung that is progressing. So that economic balance can be achieved well. This also needs to be considered by policy makers and political party leaders.” 

For a well over a decade the vast majority of tourism development in Bali has been concentrated in Badung Regency, with resorts like Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu, Uluwatu and Nusa Dua all booming.

This has led to some stakeholders becoming increasingly concerned that economic and infrastructural development opportunities are being overlooked in the province’s eight other regions. 

The event was also attended by the General Manager of I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport Bali, Handy Heryudhitiawan. He spoke of how the island is still feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic and that there is still work to be done so that Bali’s economy can recover fully.

He wants to see more support for scaling immigration services and operations at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport so that the level of tourists to the island can grow.

Heryudhitiawan said, “The fastest way to return [the economy] is through tourism, so you have to realize that tourism competition in the world is very tight.”

He noted that passenger traffic through Bali Airport is the second largest in the country, falling only just behind Jakarta, but Bali is still operating more international flights.

Heryudhitiawan explained “Imagine 38,000 to 39,000 people arriving and departing per day. In fact, this airport also focuses more on international passengers. We have been building immigration support since 2023, to support tourism development we have invested in 30 auto gate units.”


ASITA Representative Sumarjaya Linggih spoke of the importance that the newly introduced Bali Tourism Tax gets ultlizes effectively for the benefit of local culture and communities.

He wants to see funds used to boost cultural tourism across the island and to help spread tourism more evenly throughout the province to prevent ‘lopsided’ development. 


Linngih said “I said why this is urgent, because balancing these conditions, we can maintain culture as the number one tourist destination in Bali. In the long term, Bali’s autonomy should be in the province, then there will be equality and justice. Only then will there be justice. Soon there will be a mapping of the struggle for autonomy in the province.”


While there will be no immediate changes in the way in which Bali’s tourism sector is managed, these kinds of conversations between tourism leaders, political leaders and communities are becoming increasingly intense and with a new government about to be sworn in it is clear that Bali is entering new chapter for tourism and more.