Bali Could Be a Wellness Tourism Destination with Its ETNA Heritage

Young woman in Taman Ujung water palace, Bali island, Indonesia (photo: envato elements)

Indonesia boasts a cultural tapestry enriched with a profoundly diverse spectrum of traditional health practices. This intricate web of wellness traditions draws its essence from the various ethnic groups that compose the Indonesian archipelago, collectively known as Ethnowellness Nusantara (ETNA). In this narrative, Bali emerges as a promising destination poised to harness its ETNA resources for the flourishing wellness tourism industry.

Tjok Bagus Pemayun, at the helm of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, eloquently articulated this vision during a session within the Indonesia Wellness Tourism International Festival 2023, hosted in Denpasar. He remarked, “Especially now, we (the local government) are indeed developing Bali’s tourism industry based on the local cultural wisdom through wellness tourism.”

Ethnowellness Nusantara encapsulates a holistic fitness paradigm that permeates various ethnic communities throughout the Indonesian archipelago. It encompasses an array of practices, ranging from age-old traditional massages to physical exercises and spiritual well-being rituals, handed down across generations within Indonesia’s diverse ethnic tapestry.

ETNA serves as a captivating amalgamation of culture, health, and ancestral wisdom, forming the bedrock of Indonesia’s traditional healthcare traditions.

Tjok Bagus envisions that the nurturing of ETNA has the potential to allure discerning tourists seeking more extended stays. He emphasized, “With the support of top-tier products and a highly skilled workforce, it will undoubtedly become a compelling magnet, enticing tourists to explore the wonders of Bali.”

Yulia Himawati, Chairwoman of the Indonesia Wellness Spa Professional Association (IWSPA) and Vice Chair of IWTIF 2023, disclosed that the 15 ETNA practices currently under development have been carefully curated from manuscripts sourced from royal courts and grassroots communities.

This compilation of 15 ETNA practices encompasses contributions from various regions, including Minang, Batak, Jakarta, Sunda, Java, Madura, Bali, Ambon, Banjar, Dayak, Bugis, Minahasa, Papua, Timor, and Semarang.

While these traditions have been lovingly preserved by ancestors, their application in the contemporary world necessitates a modern touch to ensure accessibility and relevance to today’s society.

ETNA, as elucidated by Yulia, represents a traditional healthcare paradigm deeply rooted in the indigenous wisdom of Indonesia’s diverse ethnic communities. Its time-tested efficacy has played a pivotal role in enhancing the health, vitality, and disease resilience of the Indonesian populace.

She passionately asserted, “The knowledge of ETNA’s remarkable attributes must continue to be disseminated to establish Indonesia as the premier destination for wellness tourism, appealing to travelers who seek excellence in their wellness experiences.”

The engaging discussion also featured renowned figures in Bali’s tourism sector, including Prof. Dr. I Gde Pitana and Dr. AAA Ngurah Tini Rusmini Gorda, esteemed academics and experts in Balinese tourism.

Throughout his presentation, Gde Pitana delved into pertinent issues affecting the tourism landscape, addressing concerns such as waste management, crime rates, and the behavior of tourists. He meticulously dissected tourism data, drawing comparisons between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic conditions in Bali.

In parallel, Tini Gorda passionately endorsed the development of ETNA, an embodiment of traditional healthcare practices rooted in the ancient realms of Indonesian kingdoms. ETNA stands as an embodiment of Bali’s commitment to catering to the desires of travelers seeking holistic well-being experiences on this mesmerizing island.