Travel Professor – Environmental Impacts in Bali

In this episode, I note some of the negative effects of tourism while on holidays in Bali.

These problems include pollution especially rubbish and other debris on the beach.

The second issue I look at is traffic congestion and the third issue I examine the issue of land and water use.

In this case, hotels and the local community are in conflict about access to the beach, clean drinking water and land.

Kuta beach, Bali is where I'm now.

Kuta, a famous location for Australian holidaymakers.

I've just sat here, the beach, you can see, is not very great.

In fact, the Travel Professor is a bit disappointed with Bali.

I was expecting white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters.

Maybe this was the case a long time ago.

But now it is very polluted.

There's lots of rubbish, even people have tried to make an effort by cleaning up some of the rubbish.

But many holidaymakers.

And then up on the main street, you've got shop after shop selling the same sort of touristy stuff: Bintang singlets.

On the beach, I've just managed to get rid of all the people trying to sell me stuff, from icecreams to beer to wooden carvings, massages.

So this is the other side of Bali so the very touristy side.

It's a case, and there's been a lot of research into, how Bali, and particularly this area around Kuta, has been an example of poor tourism planning and management.

Very congested traffic, lots of pollution, just not very holistic planning.

and so, and now we can see some of the, some of the results of that, so like I said, very disappointed with the image of what I was imagining Bali to be like and what it has been.

So after talking with the hordes of hawkers along the beach, one of the interesting things they said is that the rubbish has been blown from the other island, Java, and been washed up on Kuta beach.

And also it's in their interest they have been helping to clean up.

So it's in their interest that the beach is good, that the people, that the tourists like to come the beach.

They like to come to the beach, relax on the beach so they can generate more business.

And they are certainly very enthusiastic at approaching tourists and trying to sell them a range of different things but they're also helping out with the cleanup so they know that the environment is part of the attraction of coming to Kuta and they know that when they have a good environment then tourism will flourish even more.

And also behind me in the tractor, you can see, the guys in the green are from the council.

So they are the government employees who are paid to clean up.

So you've got the street hawkers who voluntarily cleaning up as well as the council, the government, the public sector who are making an effort to also clean up the beach, but as I said, the rubbish is really very overwhelming and quite a surprise from what I expected.

This clean up, while necessary, could be avoided if the rubbish wasn't washed up on the beach in the first place.

Apart from the pollution on the beach, another standout problem in Bali for tourism is congestion.

The traffic is manic, bumper to bumper.

Scooters, cars, trucks, vans, everything trying to compete.

It takes a long time to get a very short distance, another problem for tourism in Bali.

Here's an example of the traffic.

A short taxi ride like to go from Seminyak to Kuta, which only a few kilometers took about 45 minutes.

The last issue I look at is the issue of land and water use where tourism and particularly hotels can deprive the local community of their natural resources.

I'm just outside of Kuta in the suburb of Seminyak and it's a little bit less dense densely populated, less dense in terms of building and so you still see there's some like, you've got rice paddies next to hotel.

I find it quite interesting but you've gotta wonder, in terms of the long-term sustainability whether these rice paddies are gonna, going to stay and whether tourism, the industry will just subsume all this land and buy these, buy these farmers out and become more and more densely populated as a tourist destination.

Rice paddy.


Water parks are great fun, attracting many tourists, especially families but they do use lots of water that can be used in other ways.

I don't mind going for slide.

OK, so I've raised two important issues for tourism in Bali.

1 was the rubbish up on the beach.

What's the solution? I wonder if you reader have any ideas.

I'm going to ponder some solutions while getting my feet massaged, another great thing to do in Indonesia.

One way would be obviously to stop the rubbish at the source, from Java, to stop people throwing their rubbish into the sea.

In terms of solutions, you can see there was lots of cleanup happening but by then, it's already too late, not to say about the quality of water and the marine life and the impact on the marine life.

Second is the traffic.

Now there's been some one-way, some one-way streets, I guess, to help the flow.

Too many vehicles compared to the amount of people and the amount of space.

One way could be to pedestrianised some streets and bring in some transport from outside so there's no traffic at all in the heavily densely populated areas but in all there's no easy solution but it's something that tourism policymakers need to think about.

Source: Youtube