Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world and one of its most popular destinations is the island of Bali. One of the reasons for its popularity is the relaxed and open minded culture of the Balinese people, who are masters at inviting tourists to their home while maintaining their own traditions.

Bali Tourism
Bali TourismKenny Teo (zoompict) / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Tourism to the island has had an immeasurable impact, and just like most places affected by tourism, it is both good and bad.

Economy

From an economic viewpoint, Bali has benefited enormously from the boom in tourism. In 2007, Bali reported that its exports had made 247 million pounds which is only a portion of its overall economic activity. Additionally, what makes this so impressive is that Bali is a relatively small island with a population of three million.

Due to the amount of tourists to the island, hotels, restaurants, transportation, tour guiding and boating to name a few are available all year round, and have created over 200,000 jobs for local Balinese people. This means that the Balinese enjoy a higher standard of living for their country’s standards and this is largely thanks to the tourists who visit the island.

Urban Growth

Before tourists started to visit the island, Bali was largely an agrarian society with no large cities and numerous small villages scattered around. The primary industry on the island was rice cultivation and the workers made no profits from what they farmed; only sustaining themselves.

Looking at the island now, Denpasar is the islands prefect capital and has 380,000 residents while the southern tourist areas of Seminyak and Jimbaran are full of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, guest houses. There are also various shopping centres that include international chain stores.

Developers have also built luxurious housing complexes and villas which stretch from the beaches up to the rice paddies, for those who love Bali and have enough money to own their own holiday homes. This is the easiest way to see how tourism has affected Bali as it has warped the landscape of the island for good and perhaps the better. Use price comparison websites when you want to book flights to Bali to find the best deals.

Terrorism

However, tourism has not brought all good things to the island. The main tourist area, Kuta Beach, was the victim of two terrorist bombing attacks in 2002 and 2005. Kuta Beach is popular for its many nightclubs and beautiful beaches, and as a result the 2002 bombing which took place in one of the night clubs killed many foreigners, tourist numbers have declined.

The 2005 bombings had a lower death toll than the 2002 bombings, but were more destructive to the Balinese locals. This is because the bombers would successfully scare away tourists for a period of time, fearing for their lives should another bomb occur.

In both attacks, those caught claimed they had committed their crimes with the goal of undercutting tourism, and were from the neighbouring island of Java, of which many are fundamental Islamists. They felt that the Hindu population of Bali were too encouraging of undesirable behaviour of the western tourists.