Bali’s tourist industry is urging the provincial administration to implement stricter regulations for tourist visits to temples instead of banning them, saying tourism was fine as long as the places of worship’s purity was upheld.
The statement was made in connection with Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika’s plan to halt the national strategic tourism plans (KSPN) for sites on the island and to exclude Hindu temples from tourist visits.
The KSPN are stipulated under Government Regulation No. 50/2011 on the 2010-2015 tourism development plans.
Head of the Bali office’s Indonesian Tourism Industry Association (GIPI), Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, said on Friday that the industry had discussed the matter and decided that the strategy was necessary to promote the island’s tourism.
The stakeholders involved, among others, are the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) and the Indonesian Tour Guide Association (HPI).
Wijaya said that the meeting had instead urged the administration to talk about and formulate a detailed implementing regulation for the strategy that is specific to Bali. He added that the KSPN should go on, however pointing out the necessity to observe conditions in the respective areas.
As of now, Besakih Temple on the slopes of Mount Agung in eastern Bali is the only tourist site resisted by locals for inclusion in the plan. Wijaya said the plan implementation there could be suspended, but the others should go on.
“Other sites need the development plan. In general, our tourist sites need better management and a set of strict regulations. This is in line with our mission to have all places managed professionally,” he said.
Wijaya acknowledged that temple visits were one of Bali’s main attractions, as well as being sacred places, however saying, “We need to behave well in every activity, including entering temples.”
He added that restricting temples from public visits would be counterproductive to all parties. “To the businesspeople and to the locals. Because local tour guides, souvenir sellers and kiosk owners get a living from tourists,” he stated.
Hence, Wijaya said that the industry expected to speak directly with the governor in relation to this matter.
Bali’s PHRI chairman, Tjokorda Oka Arta Ardana Sukawati, echoed Wijaya, saying, “If we do this [close temples to tourists], what happens to the temples of Tanah Lot, Taman Ayun, Uluwatu, which are tourists’ top destinations?”
Oka said that tourists actually respected the regulations in these places of worship, and would honor restrictions, such as no entrance being allowed for menstruating women.