Battling Currents

As we reflect on what 2008 has brought to Bali, and look ahead to the coming 12 months, this year is again closing at a time of turmoil. But our problems here are compounded by local and central leadership that is not only blasé about the fate of this most important tourism island but hurriedly intent on causing it lasting harm.

As the year winds down, those involved in the key tourism industry are battling a slew of troubles, some of them politically motivated in Jakarta – the contentious anti-porn law that has just been enacted and outlaws any forms of exposure that may be deemed sexually suggestive, though officials here have thankfully said bikinis in Bali are still permitted.

In fact, you would be forgiven for thinking that the people that run this island – both here and their chieftains in Jakarta – were going all-out to ruin the very place that for the most part gives Indonesia its positive international image.

Right now, during peak tourism season, there’s a dearth of imported food and alcohol supplies – and any branded tipples that may be had come with a preposterous up to 400-percent government tax – and you dare not go near some of Bali’s most famous beaches, for fear of catching something from the mounds of rancid garbage strewn along them or being stung by the shoals of venomous fish carcasses that have washed up, as this image aptly portrays:

These are the very basics of international tropical tourism, and the current unsavory situation leaves us with a feeling that some people want to ruin the party, when they should be cheering it on, because everyone stands to benefit.

The good news is, though, that after recent times of tumult, Bali has regained a solid footing in the international vacation market, and this year has seen a record number of foreign tourist arrivals. Now the government needs to start acting in a way that benefits Bali, not destroys it.

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