New Hotel Ban Moves a Step Closer

DENPASAR

A ban on new hotel construction in Denpasar and the regencies of Badung and Gianyar — long mooted as a response to oversupply and overcrowding in south Bali — has moved a step closer with delivery of a key assessment report to Governor I Made Mangku Pastika.

Governor Pastika said the report, prepared by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, said no more hotel developments should be allowed in the three districts until 2015.

The report cited an oversupply of hotel rooms in Bali’s main tourist areas and said new investment should be directed to Buleleng, Bangli, Karangasem and Jembrana instead.

Governor Pastika has already called for more balanced tourism development and infrastructure so that the economic benefits of the industry spread to all parts of Bali.

But any moratorium must first win the approval of Denpasar’s mayor and the regents of Badung and Gianyar because under the autonomy law it is regencies that issue building permits.

Governor Pastika has already run into political trouble with Bali’s regencies over strict new environmental laws meant to regulate development and protect beaches but widely ignored by regencies when they issue building permits.

New tourism developments outside crowded south Bali are hampered by poor roads and other substandard infrastructure.

Bali Tourism Board chairman Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya said this week, responding to the moratorium report, that while he agreed with the idea of a moratorium the plan was likely to create problems for the island’s economy.

“To bring tourists to other parts of Bali the government must build and improve the infrastructure, especially access roads,” he said.

“It might be difficult to stop giving permits to the investors because the tourism business has been the major [source of income] for the local government,” he said.

Bali government spokesman Ketut Teneng said the call for a development moratorium would be seriously considered. But the provincial government would like Bali’s tourism industry and authorities to do their own assessments to assist discussions.

The tourism ministry assessment says Bali has 55,000 hotel rooms, which it also says is 9,800 more than the current market demand level.

Head of the culture and tourism resources unit at the ministry, I Gede Pitana Brahmananda, said this week that without a moratorium Bali would eventually suffer from crippling overdevelopment.

Gianyar regent Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati called for any moratorium to be implemented selectively to avoid “unhealthy competition” among local investors.

He said one option would be to exempt developers planning accommodation rates of US$1,000 (Rp9 million) a night or more, so that high-end tourism was still encouraged in south Bali.

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