According to locals, Bali is experiencing an influx of tourists. In January, Bali province’s tourism statistics recorded 22,104 visitors from Russia, the second-largest after the massive 91,254 visitors from Australia during the same period. Despite being a famous global travel destination, Bali’s residents are weary of over-tourism and hoping for some peace and quiet. Some tourists have even called the police to file complaints about noisy chickens, much to the locals’ frustration.
Fatmawati is a single-named Indonesian personal assistant and freelance photographer who relocated to Bali from Java around nine years ago, similar to many people in Indonesia who use only one name. “We have a lot of tolerance here . . . but it’s this behavior of ‘I am the more important person. Look at me,’” stated Fatmawati. “It’s disgusting – people are tired of it. I’m tired of it.”
The general manager of Intrepid Travel is Ravindra Singh Shekhawat. Back in February 2022, “the roads were empty, hotels were empty.” Tourism has significantly increased since then. “It’s definitely very busy,” he stated. “There are tourists everywhere.”
“To a lot of people, Bali is considered more like a party island,” Shekhawat added. “That could be one of the reasons that people are not very aware of how traditional local people are.”
Shekhawat thinks it’s unfortunate when tourists get into arguments with locals over things they can’t control, such as common issues like religious processions causing traffic detours in places like Bali.
“As an outsider, you may have your opinion, but local people’s opinion should matter as well,” Shekhawat stated. “It’s their land, it’s their island, and they should be allowed to follow their culture and tradition as they want to.”
Justin Smith, who is the owner of a luxury travel-planning company called Evolved Traveler, said: “It was acceptable to a point, but it has now gone too far. There’s an absolute lack of respect for the destination, and for Bali to be pushed to that extent, that means this bad behavior is pretty extensive.”
When Smith and his team arrived in Bali, they realized the island was under a lot of environmental stress. To help keep it sustainable in the long run, they decided to be more responsible in their travels.
“We’ve tried to be mindful in terms of how much waste we produce, how much noise we make, and how much we disturb the environment,” Smith stated. “We want to be respectful of the locals and make sure that our activities are not causing additional stress on Bali’s resources.”
To fully enjoy future visits to Bali, it’s important to understand and respect the local culture and opinions and minimize our impact as tourists. Responsible tourism is crucial for Bali’s economy and the well-being of its people, and we must be mindful to preserve the island’s natural beauty.