I have just returned to Indonesia from Scotland for a short trip and once again feel compelled to compare the way in which each country approaches tourism.
There are a lot of similarities between Scotland and Bali: each are a small part of a greater country, UK and Indonesia, each are filled with natural beauty, Scotland with its highlands and islands, Bali with its mountains and rice fields, each have huge cultural assets, Scotland has castles and historic homes, Bali with its temples and palaces. Both have active cultural dances and music! But there the comparison stops.
Scotland understands its tourism branding very well and adheres to it with intense pride: preserving cultural and historic sites and organising them brilliantly, making the tourist experience a world beating one.
Bali does the opposite: overloading the senses with endless giant billboards from the moment of arrival, overloading the infrastructure with hotels, villas, shop houses, malls and clubs; overloading the beaches with hawkers and touts and inevitably garbage.
The result is that Scotland, while it is cold and raining most of the year, has a five star rating as a destination, while Bali with a far greater advantage of both cultural and natural assets, has slipped down the ratings from “Best Island in The World” ten years ago, to a low runner-up position today.
One country has intense pride in its product, the other has lost its perspective, and while Bali is still a really good place to have a holiday, just think how good it could be with real pride playing its part, in preserving the beauty that is “real Bali”. Let’s hope the government wakens up to this soon.