Despite Crowds, Bali Not Yet in Overtourism Territory

Sanur Beach, Bali
Sanur Beach, Bali

Amidst the resurgence of Bali’s tourism sector following the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the island has once again become a magnet for travelers, both local and international. However, discussions have emerged regarding the concept of overtourism in Bali, prompting a closer examination by Bali’s tourism authorities.

Contrary to claims of overtourism, Bali’s Head of Tourism, Tjok Bagus Pemayun, asserts that the surge in tourist numbers is not indicative of excessive visitor traffic but rather a concentration in specific areas of the island.

“In actuality, it’s not overtourism; rather, there are pockets of high tourist activity primarily in the southern regions of Bali,” clarified Tjok during a recent virtual briefing session.

Acknowledging the uneven distribution of tourists across the island, Tjok highlighted ongoing efforts to address this issue through strategic planning and development initiatives. These efforts include the enhancement of tourist attractions in lesser-known areas, such as Besakih Village in Karangasem, as well as improvements in infrastructure and accessibility.

“In collaboration with Paramount in western Bali, particularly in Jembrana, and the construction of the Turyapada Tower in North Bali, we aim to improve accessibility and diversify tourist destinations,” explained Tjok.

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Optimistic about achieving a more balanced distribution of tourists, Tjok emphasized the importance of these initiatives in ensuring sustainable tourism growth in Bali.

Further insights were provided by Nia Niscaya, a Senior Expert in Tourism and Creative Economy, who underscored that Bali’s current tourism situation does not align with the overtourism narrative.

“From a statistical standpoint, the data suggests that overtourism is not the issue; however, there may be localized concentrations of tourist activity, particularly in southern Bali,” remarked Nia during the briefing.

Referring to international tourist arrival statistics for Indonesia, Nia pointed out that while there has been a gradual recovery since the pandemic, numbers have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels.

“In 2019, Indonesia welcomed 16.11 million international tourists, whereas in 2023, this figure decreased to 11.68 million. Nationally, we are still working towards pre-pandemic levels,” she explained.

Highlighting the significance of Bali’s tourism industry, Nia emphasized the need for continued collaboration between stakeholders to promote sustainable tourism practices and ensure a more equitable distribution of visitors across the island.

In conclusion, while Bali’s tourism sector shows signs of recovery, concerns regarding overtourism may be premature. Through strategic planning and collaborative efforts, Bali aims to sustainably manage its tourism growth and provide visitors with diverse and enriching experiences while preserving the island’s natural and cultural heritage.