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Bali worries that the "unstoppable flow" of tourism is having a negative impact on the environment

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Communities and traditional leaders in Bali have expressed concern about the environmental impact of mass tourism development. In areas such as Canggu and the villages around Ubud, rental villas and tourist hotels are often built on productive agricultural land.

Anthropologists, conservationists and traditional Balinese leaders are expressing concern about the environment and the future of tourism on the Island of the Gods.

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After a discussion at the Community Hub House in Denpasar on Sunday, local communities spoke to reporters about their experiences in tourism development. The event was titled "The G20 and the Future of Bali". Balinese culturologist I Wayan Westa shared his observations of the island's rapid development over the past two decades.

He explained that he sees Bali as an "open fortress" that invites an "unstoppable flow" of tourism. He said that these large-scale construction investments had led to undeniable positive impacts on the economy, but he feared that the focus on developing the tourism sector had led to the "sacrifice" of agricultural land.

As a calm and respectful opposition to Governor Wayan Koster, Westa suggests that more robust environmental policies would benefit the island and the tourism sector in the long run.

Last week, Governor Koster spoke to the media about his vision for sustainable tourism development and food security. He believes that "the solution to building tourism while maintaining food security is to build monumental and fundamental infrastructure as well as tourism that promotes local agricultural production."

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Monumental infrastructure is not the position Westa occupies. He told the press that preparing for the island's future must be done with an environment-first approach.

During the discussion, the chairman of the Indonesian Foundation for Nature Conservation Iwan Dewantama shared, the issue of coastal erosion and the development of tourism on fragile coastal ecosystems also. Dewantama urged the government to pay more attention to the issue.

Deputy Governor Cok Ace also attended the event and reiterated that all future development should "be in favor of nature conservation, cultural enhancement and improving the quality [of life] for the Balinese".

The chairman of PHRI (Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association) concluded by saying, “Save nature, culture and people because this is the only wealth we have. If we realize that the development of tourism harms these three things, we must react adequately".

Pura Besakih, Temple on Gunung Agung, Bali - excursion - Bali Experience

Although no policy changes have been announced, there are hopes from local communities that these types of events will bring to the attention of decision makers so that tourism development can be sustainable and appropriate measures taken to address the environmental issues that have emphasized.

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