The regular deaths of whales and tiger sharks on Bali's beaches, a fire at the overcrowded Suwung landfill during a drought—these are just part of the challenges the island faces due to environmental issues and climate change. Officials and entrepreneurs acknowledge that inaction could lead to even worse consequences. Therefore, in 2024, the emphasis will be on eco-friendly, regenerative travel, and green investments. This was discussed at the recent ecotourism week, where Indonesia's Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, also addressed the topic.
Some companies are already moving away from mass tourism, where large groups of travelers visit the same attractions. Hiking in untouched parts of the island is becoming increasingly popular. These journeys are often compared to pilgrimages because tourists can learn more not only about Bali's nature and culture but also about themselves. Participants sleep together on open bamboo or wooden platforms, equipped with just a mattress, blanket, pillow, and mosquito net.
During these trips, vegetarian meals made from local products following traditional recipes are provided. Organizers advocate against preservatives and monosodium glutamate. The day's program includes the hike itself, interactions with local residents, stretching, evening dances, and heartfelt conversations around a campfire. Organizers believe this is a way for tourists to leave a positive impact on Bali without causing harm.
Another way Bali is addressing climate issues is through a beach-cleaning robot in Sanur. It can clear plastic waste from the shoreline, ensuring a comfortable experience for beachgoers, and removes harmful pollutants from the sand, helping protect the marine ecosystem.
Statistics confirm that climate change is increasingly concerning investors putting money into Bali's tourism development. In 2023, the level of concern rose by 10 percent compared to 2022.
"There are concerns about climate change, so tourist destinations, such as hotels and other types of tourism, should be able to refer to the green economy," said Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia's Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy. He also added that Indonesia, with its rich natural resources and cultural diversity, has high potential for developing green tourism. The renewable energy sector has attracted the highest total investment globally in the past four years.
During Ecotourism Week, discussions highlighted the need for the government, tourism industry representatives, and the general public to join forces to raise climate awareness. According to the co-founder of Eco Tourism Bali, Rahmi Fadjar Harini, the Suwung landfill fire was directly linked to climate change. Anomalously high temperatures led to the release of methane gas from organic waste, causing the fire.
Addressing issues like the Suwung landfill fire is part of efforts to increase awareness. Failure to act could increase the risk, threatening Bali's tourism appeal. These meetings represent a search for balance between Bali's development and the preservation of climate and ecology, and the work seems set to continue in 2024.