Bali to Issue Bylaw on Cultural Preservation

DENPASAR

The provincial administration is trying to finish a draft bylaw on cultural preservation to protect the island’s precious arts and cultural heritage from being wiped out by modernization.

“Bali is famous for its arts and cultural wealth, but the current profits from tourism still bring little benefit to its culture,” said Ketut Wija, second assistant of the administration dealing with economic affairs.

Ideally, any company working in the tourism and hospitality sector distributes part of its profits into its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program to support the island’s art and cultural activities.

“The reality is still far beyond this expectation. Only a very few companies care about Balinese arts and culture,” Wija stated.

Therefore, the issuance of a provincial bylaw was urgent to clearly regulate cultural preservation.

One of the proposed clauses in the planned bylaw states that any visitor coming to Bali is required to pay US$1 into a cultural preservation fund.

“The mechanism of the payment will be discussed soon, in order not to burden the tourists,” Wija said.

The money collected would be used to finance various cultural preservation efforts and development programs, such as supporting local art groups and village-based art organizations across Bali. With such a scheme, tourism could be seen as directly benefiting the island’s arts and culture.

The money, he said, would also be channeled to support local farmers’ subak organizations to discourage them from selling their lands to investors.

The centuries-old subak traditional farming organization and irrigation system has already been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in September.

“The world already acknowledges our subak system, so the Balinese people are responsible for preserving it,” he said.

Wayan Geriya, a noted anthropologist and an avid cultural observer, maintained that people came to Bali to enjoy the island’s natural beauty and its rich traditions and culture.

“The visitors come from diverse places bringing with them their own traditions and culture. As a result, there must be cultural interaction between locals and visitors, which in turn will also affect Balinese cultural and traditional values,” Geriya said.

The lack of clear regulations and policies regarding cultural preservation would likely create a “lost generation” on the island. There will be no generation to continue actively with its own culture.

Meanwhile, I Gede Ardika, a member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UN-WTO), stated that since 1999, the international organization had issued global tourism ethics codes as a fundamental frame of reference for responsible and sustainable tourism.

The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) is a comprehensive set of principles designed to guide key players in tourism development. Addressed to governments, the travel industry, communities and tourists alike, the GCET aims to help maximize the tourism sector’s benefits while minimizing its potentially negative impact on the environment, cultural heritage and societies across the globe.

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