Bali – The pearl nestled among the Sunda Islands, and for decades a well kept secret. Today it is touted as ‘paradise,’ because of its white sandy beaches, tropical beaches, amazing temples, and local people. However, some are concerned that the Bali that everyone is drawn to, may become a thing of the past as mass tourism grows and Bali pays the price of those increasing demands.
One of the concerns is that Bali’s 3.5 million population will explode beyond recognition, as more and more people come to the island. Sure, these tourists are not permanent residents, but because so many people are travelling to Bali all year long, the island is home to a population that far exceeds the 3.5 million that call Bali home all year round. Every day 13,000 cubic meters of waste is dumped. Every year more than 700 hectares of land are turned into luxury homes for foreigners, and hotels, or to improve roads. The number of cars on the road grows by 13% leading to an increase in massive traffic jams.
“From the 1970s onwards Bali really became a tourist destination,” says Wayan Suardana, head of Walhisimilan, a conservation group campaigning for the environment. “But to begin with it was mainly cultural tourism. Now we are seeing mass tourism. And that’s a problem.”
According to Wayan Suardan, hotels are popping up all over the place using up a large portion of the freshwater reserves. Each 4 star room will use 300 litters of water. In 2001, a million people visited Bali; in 2011 more than double that number of tourists arrived in Bali.
In 2011, the Governor of Bali issued a new building ban in areas that are already heavily developed warning that Bali is in danger of becoming a barren and concrete land. For tourists that means there may not be any more of those beautiful Bali villas you enjoy being built, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance so that you can get a villa in the location you want, and that fits your budget.