Booms in surfing and tourism mean that development has come to Bali at a rapid pace. This poses obvious environmental and economic problems. Bali’s natural wealth is what attracts so many visitors, but overdevelopment in the pursuit of tourist dollars can actually destroy the island’s rich ecology. Many think the solution lies in Bali ecotourism.
Last week at the Nusa Dua Fiesta 2013 members of Bali’s tourism industry met with policy makers and environmental groups in order to thresh out a plan for managing marine areas and developing Bali ecotourism.
Jamaluddin Jompa, a marine expert from Hasanuddin University, is quoted in the Jakarta Post:
Establishing marine protected areas is a must, because it can provide significant social and economic benefits, and it will ensure better management of resources if we wish to achieve sustainability in the fishery and tourism sectors. Establishing a zoning system in the ocean, where certain parts were dedicated to conservation and no fishing zones, while other parts were for tourism activities, would provide time for the ecosystem to recover from the degrading impact of coastal development, and would in turn contribute significantly to increasing the value of Bali’s marine tourism.
In their own way surfers have been involved in Bali ecotourism by helping to keep their beloved surf spots clean and by assisting local businesses and communities with waste management. I’ve posted several times in the past about Eco Surf Rescue Uluwatu, now known as Project Clean Uluwatu.
Likewise, local businesses – from hotels to fisheries to diving and surfing schools –need to adopt practices that don’t harm the ecology of the island. Though a relatively new phenomenon, Bali ecotourism is already establishing itself in the minds of the tourists themselves.
Tourists too have reacted against their irresponsible past. The noisy few that pollute the streets and bars of Kuta are slowly being outnumbered by a responsible and growing majority seeking the peace and natural charms of the original Bali. This is evidenced by the increasing number of eco- and socially responsible semi educational resorts.
The whole idea with Bali ecotourism is to sustainably manage the island’s natural ecology, which is what brings tourists in the first place. It’s pretty simple: If you like something, be responsible, care for it and don’t “break” it. The same thing goes for the environment.