A draft regulation from the Bali Spatial Planning Regional Regulation (Perda RTRW) could potentially limit or ban tourists from hiking landmarks such as Gunung Batur, citing the areas as sacred.
If passed, the regulation will prevent activities on the mountain with exceptions for religious rituals and disaster management. The regional regulation is still under discussion in the Bali Regional House of Representatives (DPRD Bali).
Governor of Bali Wayan Koster said that changing the status of a mountain to become a sacred area is in accordance with historical factors. Koster said that mountains are the places where ancestors performed religious rituals and did yoga and meditation.
“In ancient times our ancestors, elders, and holy teachers made the mountain a place to carry out religious rituals. All mountains in Bali should be made a sacred area,” said Koster when attending the plenary session at the Provincial DPRD Office Bali on Monday, 30th January 2023.
Later, the sulinggih, or religious leaders, will confirm the names of the mountains that need to be designated as sacred areas to the Provincial Government of Bali.
According to the governor, so far there have been no strict rules regarding activities on the mountains in Bali. He then alluded to the many incidents that have occurred in the mountain area as a warning from God.
“There have been many accidents on Mount Batur. Maybe it was because there were too many activities and it was out of control,” he said.
However, this draft regulation has received a negative response from tourism figures. They consider this to be disproportionate because spirituality and tourism can collaborate if managed properly.
This was explained by Mangku Juliawan, the chairman of the Mount Batur Caldera Jeep Adventure Association (KAJA), who considers the discourse on closing tourism on Mount Batur to be disproportionate since religious activities should be able to coexist with tourism activities. In fact, he claims it adds more value to tourism activities.
He considers the regulation not ideal since many people depend on this sector for their livelihoods. For example, there are 300 Jeep drivers at the foot of Mount Batur Kintamani. If access to the mountain is restricted, they may lose their jobs.
Juliawan said that he hopes that there will be a collaboration between tourism and religious activities. His team reiterated the value of Bali tourism is the culture itself – both religious and spiritual activities included.
“If someone wants to find tourist attractions that are more beautiful than Bali, I think there are quite a lot of places to see. But they are still looking for Bali because of its culture,” he said.