Bali Promotion Center

Bali Promotion Center
Bali Promotion Center Media Promosi Online

June 26, 2012

Tourism : a disaster for the poor

The rapid development of Bali’s tourism industry  is  apparently  not only having a positive impact on Bali’s people, it might, on the other hand, bear  an unfavorable  impact on the  less fortunate people  living in poverty if  the government does not step in to intervene .

It is one of the ironies of Bali that as its tourism fortunes have soared in recent years, with last year bringing a record almost 2.8 million foreign visitors to Bali’s shores, poverty remains rampant and, as the figures show, is increasing. In particular, many industry observers have pointed out, the island’s tourism is over-concentrated in the south, to the detriment of the rest of the island and its people. And inversely, the southern areas are becoming so intensely built up that the over development and resultant traffic snarls it creates have led to dissatisfaction among tourists and residents. Some have pointed to the touted establishment of a second international airport in the north of Bali as a possible solution to the inequity, as it would enable a greater balance of revenue spread.

“Tourism is a disaster for the poor. When the tourism industry is developed, the prices of people’s daily needs are getting higher  and, particularly for the poor, unaffordable,” Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika said in an evaluation meeting of the island’s poverty reduction program in Denpasar, Monday.

“For instance, in Buleleng, as tourism in the northern part of Bali has developed, in the meantime , people  living  in poverty are getting poorer. Tourism also attracts many people from outside Bali to come and work here. The influx of these migrant workers is driving the price of food and other needs up,” Pastika said.

Without any attempts  from the government to intervene and offset the conditions, Pastika further elaborated, the development of tourism industry could  result in loads of unfavorable  impacts.

“As the farmers  earn low income  while the prices of daily needs are  skyrocketing , farmers won’t have any other choices except to sell their land. Being a farmer in this kind of economic setting could hinder them from improving their quality of life,” he added.

Pastika said that the vicious circle of poverty had made poor people become poorer, while the rich were getting  richer.

“The rich are getting richer while  the  poor are getting poorer, the strong are getting stronger. The smart are getting  smarter as they have got more opportunity to access quality education and other facilities, while the poor  can only access lower quality facilities. This triggers and results in  an ever-widening social gap,” Pastika said.

Government programs, he admitted, should be tailored to solve this crucial problem.

“The vicious circle of poverty should be broken off. Government has the obligation to carry this out  to improve people’s welfare,” Pastika stressed.

The government program on eradicating poverty, however, is facing lots of problems. “The worst thing is that there seems to be no synergy among all the programs that are managed by the government,” said Pastika, admitting that the regional ad-ministrations had yet to achieve synergy.

 Pastika, a devout Hindu who turned 60 last Friday, has made poverty-reduction one of his priorities in office, and on Monday declared that the “vicious circle of poverty must be broken off.” That would be done, he said, with the help of the government.
“The administrations are still divided along the regions’ and agencies’ selfish egos, as well as political interests. This is our big task,” he added.

In an attempt to improve these situations, the Bali administration has designed a program to accelerate poverty eradication by empowering poor villages in the province. The program, called the Village Integrated Development Program (Gerbang Sadu) Bali Mandara, starts this year and has designated five villages as part of the pilot project. The program provides Rp 1 billion (US$106,000) of aid in cash for each village to kick off community-based economic enterprises. The enterprises are expected to provide  sustainable sources of income, as well as job opportunities, for the villagers.

The administration has allocated Rp 5 billion from this year’s provincial budget for the initial phase of the program.
”We really hope this program can work out well to accelerate the poverty eradication program,” Pastika said.

Data from the Bali office of the Central Statistics Agency showed that Bali still had around 183,100 underprivileged residents, based on a national survey on socioeconomic conditions in September 2011.

It means there was an increase of 16,900 people compared to similar data in March last year, when 166,200 Bali residents were classified as poor. Bali ranked second, behind Jakarta, in its percentage of less fortunate or poor people.

Source : Bali Daily and Balitimes
Edited by Jamesrudy