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In a developing country like Indonesia, one might think a booming tourist trade on one of its prettiest islands could only be good. There are certainly some benefits. But mass tourism on Bali also creates some serious problems:
Tourism on Bali has largely been planned by the Indonesian government (far away in Jakarta) and by foreigners. Few Balinese have been involved in the planning and management of most tourism in Bali. Instead, they have become the tourist attraction! But a tiger in a zoo doesn’t make much money from its visitors, and neither do most Balinese. Most profits from mass tourism on Bali go to wealthy entrepreneurs and corporations outside Bali, while the Balinese suffer the negative environmental and social impacts.
All islands are fragile. Limited land means limited fresh water (among other resources) and tricky problems with waste disposal. Demands for swimming pools and golf courses, beachfront resorts and air-conditioning put a huge strain on Bali’s ecosystem. Did you know that an average 500-room hotel uses as much water as could be used to irrigate 33 hectares of rice paddy? And on average each of these rooms produces ten times the waste of an average family home in Bali? Yet slowly the rice paddies in south Bali are giving way to more such hotel rooms, villas and tourist shops.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL
Balinese culture often loses its meaning. The sacredness of many rituals and dances are abused for the consumption of tourists. Religious festivals such as Ngaben, are made more ostentatious especially to impress outsiders. Buildings created for tourists often completely ignore the Balinese philosophies that dictate traditional architecture and planning. Balinese who work in the tourism industry often prioritise their duties in the tourist world to the detriment of their traditional and social obligations in their communities. Now the lives of some Balinese are completely lost in the tourist nightlife of alcohol, illicit drugs and various shades of prostitution.
JED - BALINESE TOURISM FOR BALINESE PEOPLE
Jaringan Ekowisata Desa (JED - village ecotourism network) was launched in 2002 in response to the current tourism trends in Bali. It was designed and is owned by the communities of four Balinese villages – Kiadan Pelaga, Dukuh Sibetan, Tenganan Pegringsingan and Ceningan Island - with the administrative help of the Wisnu Foundation, one of Bali’s oldest environmental NGOs.
JED is a strong statement from four communities who want to decide for themselves the future of their people, their culture and their environment. Inviting visitors to their villages is a way not only to raise funds for cultural and conservation activities, but also to raise community esteem for these assets. It is an opportunity for villagers to share their pride in Bali with visitors, and present Bali as they know and love it, to the world. The result is a unique chance for travelers to directly experience village life and see what Bali is all about…
PRINCIPLES OF JED:
• JED is planned and managed by the community in each village.
• The funds generated through JED tourism activities support community development and environmental conservation activities.
• JED aims to strengthen transparent and democratic decision-making and cooperation in and between the villages.
• JED trips are designed to have minimal impact on the local environment.
• JED aims to fosster cross-cultural understanding through facilitating discussions between Balinese locals and outside visitors.
SUPPORTERS OF JED
The Indonesian Ecotourism Network
Rufford Small Grants for Conservation