It’s high season here in Bali and that means people, lots of them, and people means cars, and buses, and motorbikes. Do we really want them? Is the Bali infrastructure ready for them? Sadly the answer is a resounding, total ‘NO’.

Personal Perspective
Why are they coming then? Well of course it’s everybody’s right to have a holiday so we can’t really blame them, but what has happened to Bali is just a horrible combination of ignorance and greed.

Ignorance because no business should be done without real planning and tourism is a very, very complicated business which doesn’t just rely on having an airport capable of handling 10 million visitors a year. It relies on having roads, water, electricity, garbage collection, and all aspects of the visitors stay, able to adequately cope with these numbers. And they are not.

Greed, because everyone involved with the regulation of the island wants bigger numbers which they think translates into more money for them. But sadly even that calculation is wrong. Bigger numbers of the wrong people actually means less money for the island. Let me give you a very simple calculation. A high value, long staying visitor will spend a minimum of $100 a day on accommodation and another $100 on food and entertainment, and spends an average of 10 days here. Total benefit to Bali US$ 2,000. A short haul low value tourist spends $40 a day for 4 days plus another $40 on food etc. Total benefit for Bali US$ 320. That’s 16% of the high value visitor.

So, we need 6 times the visitor numbers of the low value type to get the same value for Bali. And that’s what we have today, 6 million local and short haul visitors per annum, needing six times the capacity and clogging the arteries of the island for the same money as 1 million high value visitors. Can no-one really do the calculations?

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G Speirs, OBE, is the Publisher of NOW! Magazines. He has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for the last 25 years. He started both NOW! Bali and NOW! Jakarta as each region's preferred community magazine.