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Bali tourism businesses urged to use more local products (25/05/2012)

 Aiming to boost the agricultural as well as the small and medium enterprise potential of northern Badung, hotels and other tourism-related industries in Bali are being urged to use more local fruit, vegetables and handicrafts.

“We have been supporting the cultivation of organic asparagus. We are aiming to assist in its marketing to various restaurants here. Afterwards, we hope to diversify our efforts to other products,” Badung Regent Anak Agung Gde Agung said recently.

Badung also plans to revive its central handicraft area known as JAS, which stands for Jagapati, Angantaka and Sedang villages. The three villages used to produce excellent handicrafts that were appropriate for use as hotel room decorations and souvenirs. Gede Agung expects to cooperate with the Bali Hotel Association and the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) to create a market for these local handicrafts. “If these handicrafts are displayed in the tens of thousands of hotel rooms in Badung, I believe guests will be interested in buying them as souvenirs.”

The Denpasar administration also has a similar goal.

“At least 50 percent of the products used by our tourism industry should be produced locally,” said head of the Denpasar Trade and Industry agency, I Wayan Gatra.

Since the implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) in 2010, Gatra acknowledged the growing urgency to protect local products, such as Balinese handicrafts, that have experienced declining exports. Direct marketing through hotels, restaurants and shopping centers will sustain these protection efforts.

Gatra said his agency had coordinated with PHRI, the Indonesian Retail Company Association (Aprindo), the agency of cooperative and small and medium enterprises, the Agricultural Agency and the Husbandry Agency.

Gatra pointed out a worry that nowadays there are even fewer local products used in hotels and restaurants, or sold in supermarkets, due to the inconsistent quality and supply of the local harvests. Thus, he urged, regulations that clearly stipulate rewards and punishments must be made at the municipal level and even at the provincial level.

Badung is the island’s richest regency with the highest regional revenue due to the giant tourism industry in its southern area, including Kuta, Jimbaran and Nusa Dua. In 2011, the regency booked regional revenue of Rp 1.1 trillion(US$118.80 million), out of which Rp 849 billion (76.19 percent) was generated from taxes and levies related to tourism.

However, it also suffers from a worsening problem of development and economic inequality, as infrastructure development and investments are taking place mostly in the southern part of the regency. The northern part of the regency, which comprises three sub-districts and relies heavily on farming and seasonal plant cultivation, is struggling to cope with limited infrastructure and outdated economic access.

Badung’s condition mirrors that of Bali. Decades of tourism development and the massive influx of investment have seen its southern part, comprising Badung, Denpasar and Gianyar, transformed into a modern, urban and generally wealthy economic hub. At the same time, Jembrana in the west, Klungkung, Bangli and Karangasem in the east, and Buleleng in the north, have to struggle with a rising number of people living in poverty and the diminishing role of agriculture, which once served as the primary backbone.

As these “poor” regions try to catch up by inviting as many tourism investors as possible in order to boost their respective regional revenues, the hordes of new investors bring fresh money, as well as further degradation to the island’s environmental and cultural integrity. Consequently, the island’s tourism has experienced an overall decline in the quality of experiences it could offer visitors.

PHRI Bali, in 2010, recorded as many as 2,260 star and jasmine hotels — excluding condotels, residences and apartments — with a total of 56,971 rooms around the island, 88.5 percent of which are located in southern Bali’s regencies: Badung (36,947 rooms), Denpasar (10,097 rooms) and Gianyar (3,410 rooms).