Rally Cancelled but Tensions Continue at Tanah Lot
A plan for a massive protest rally at Tanah Lot on Monday was put on hold over the weekend, but the tourist attraction and sacred site remains at the centre of a bitter dispute between local villagers over revenues.
Management of the site surrounding the offshore temple – one of Bali’s most popular tourist attractions – is conducted by the Beraban customary village. People from other villages in the area have been demanding a cut of the vast profits generated by the site in recent years, and had threatened to hold a large rally on Monday, blocking access to the site.
Tanah Lot receives an average of 5,000 visitors a day, and generates around Rp20 billion (US$2.2 million) a year.
Until last year management of the site was run by a private company, CV Ary Jasa Wisata, on behalf of the Tabanan regency authorities. However, after a series of demonstrations by people from Beraban, eager to gain control of the revenues, the contract with the private company was cancelled, and management handed over to the Beraban community, who currently take 40 percent of revenues from tourist visits.
This in turn prompted a series of protests from other villages in the area, culminating in the threat of a thousand-strong demonstration on Monday, which would have seen the site shut down for visitors.
However, operational manager I Ketut Toya Adnyana said on Sunday that the protest would no longer take place, and that Tanah Lot would remain open for business.
“We guarantee that the tourists’ trips will not be disrupted and that it is completely safe to visit the temple,” he said.
Adnyana said a series of meetings between the site management and representatives of around 20 villages in the area on Friday and Saturday had helped to lower tensions. He added that the rally had not been endorsed by senior figures from the aggrieved communities.
“The threat was made by several individuals who only wanted to incite unrest,” he said, adding that it had been decided to give 6.5 percent of Beraban’s 40-percent cut to the other villages.
While some leaders were said to be satisfied with the offer, other people demanded a larger cut, and threatened the rally in consequence. But following further measures on Sunday the event was declared cancelled.Filed under: Headlines