The warm island paradise of Bali is one of Indonesia's most famous regions. Known all over the world for its clear oceans, pearly beaches, hidden Hindu temples and captivating culture, Bali has lured in Western travelers since the official Tourist Bureau was founded in 1908.
The sudden availability of cheap holidays towards the end of the 1960's had a dramatic effect on Bali. Having previously been a destination for wealthy people and hippies, the area suddenly attracted a whole new type of traveler by the thousand.
The government attempted to contain the influx, isolating the tourist trade to specific parts of Bali. This had a number of negative side effects, both economically and environmentally. Keeping all the lucrative tourism industry in certain areas led to a geographical wealth divide, while placing a disproportionate strain on the water and waste resources in the area. In addition, coastal erosion became concentrated in the areas with high tourist footfall.
The Environmental Reality
The government has since adopted a more modern environmental policy, but there are still limitations. Aside from the fact that the officials of the decentralized government have little incentive to inhibit the profitable tourist trade, 700 hectares of Bali is lost to development every year. In a day, every four-star hotel room has used 300 liters of water (which could cause a drinking water shortage by 2015) and the island has gained an extra 13,000 cubic meters of waste only half of which is recycled.
The attitude to tourism is starting to change, however. One of the most powerful arguments is that the tourists are attracted to Bali because of the culture and environment and by destroying these assets the tourist trade seals its fate. But it is the tourists themselves who are increasingly insisting on environmentally-friendly alternatives in Bali.
Where to Stay
Menjangan Resort, currently one of the most highly rated hotels in Buleleng, is one of those alternatives. Providing an escape from the crowded tourist hotspots, it is one of several large resorts which offer eco-conscious travellers a space to enjoy Bali's unique culture and wildlife. Other resorts like Puri Lumbing Cottages, Udayana Eco Lodge and the Munduk Moding Plantation all limit the impact their guests have on the environment.
Some resorts go even further. Bali Eco Stay was the first in Bali to generate its own power and there are several more 'off-grid' establishments which meet some or all of their electricity requirements sustainably.
What to Do
While tourist accommodation is a colossal drain on Bali's resources, ecotourism is about more than just hotels. Green tourists are increasingly becoming aware of the environmental implications of their excursions, putting the pressure on tour operators to maintain high levels of eco-friendliness.
Bali's diving schools, which enable tourists to experience the rich aquatic ecology that surrounds Indonesia, have worked together with the Gili Eco Trust to encourage the renewal of damaged coral, much of which has been adversely affected by destructive blast fishing and exploitative tourism.
Bali welcomed 2.88 million foreign tourists last year and expects the figure to exceed 3 million in 2013. But with an ever-increasing emphasis on environmental considerations and a growing ecotourism sector, Bali might still be an island paradise in generations to come.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this guest post featured on this site are those of the guest author/advertising partner and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of www.travelingmorion.com as a whole .
Follow TRAVELING MORION's Journeys and Travels
Follow me on Twitter| @travelingmorion
LIKE my Facebook Page| Traveling Morion