Infrastructure at tourist sites needs upgrading
After being included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Jatiluwih village in Tabanan regency, 50 kilometers west of Denpasar, is enjoying its new fame as Bali’s most wanted tourist site with hundreds of people visiting its stunning views of multi-tiered paddy fields every day.
Yet, the roads to the village are narrow and badly damaged with potholes making the trip to the village’s famous subak area difficult and uncomfortable.
Upon arrival at the site, numerous tour buses, tour guides’ vans and dozens of motorcycles were parked along the main road creating serious traffic congestion.
Jatiluwih village was, of course, not prepared as a tourist destination equipped with the necessary supporting facilities, such as spacious parking lots, public toilets, cafes and restaurants usually found at the island’s main tourist attractions.
Ketut Ariyasa, a driver from a travel agency here, told Bali Daily that many tourists had lodged complaints about public toilets at many tourist destinations.
“Many tourist attractions do not have decent public toilets for visitors. Some of them do, but they were dirty and smelly,” Ariyasa said.
When visiting a rural area, like Jatiluwih village, tourists may not find any sanitation facilities.
Foreigners who visit Jatiluwih now are required to buy an entry ticket for Rp 15,000 (US$1.60) for an adult and Rp 10,000 for a child, while domestic tourists pay Rp 10,000 for an adult and Rp 7,500 for a child. All the revenue from ticket sales will go to Tabanan regional administration.
Poor tourist facilities and poor access to Bali’s major tourist destinations, such as Uluwatu temple in Jimbaran, Tanah Lot temple, Tenganan indigenous Bali Aga community in Karangasem, and almost all sites, should become a source of urgent homework for the island’s authorities — both provincial and regional administrations.
Al Purwa, chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies Association (ASITA), has frequently urged local governments to improve facilities, including public toilets, parking sites and clean water access in vital places.
“Numerous visitors have been complaining about the issue and the association of tourist-related agencies has provided input to the authorities, but they seem to turn a deaf ear,” Purwa said.
Like other international tourist destinations anywhere in the world, he said, Bali should quickly upgrade its tourist facilities and major infrastructure, like roads and airport facilities, if it wanted to compete with neighboring countries.
Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia are now busy attracting international holidaymakers with superb facilities and extensive promotional efforts.
Malaysia and Thailand, for instance, attract no fewer than 11 million tourists to their countries every year, while Indonesia is only able to draw 8.5 million tourists.
Bali welcomed around 2.7 million foreign tourists and 4 million domestic guests in 2011.
“Bali is a small island and it has to improve all its facilities to maintain its reputation as world-class tourist destination, otherwise people will find holiday alternatives elsewhere in neighboring countries,” Purwa warned.
Purwa added that luxury hotels and villas were not enough to support Bali’s tourism. The Bali administration had to think about upgrading road access, harbors, public facilities, immigration services and other related issues. “Tourism is about every aspect of the island’s life,” Purwa added.