Sunday, September 18, 2005

BALI - Beach Pollution - UGLY TOURISM

Special Report - Beach Pollution muddies Bali's image.
TRAVELSAPIEN really gets antsy when Tourism becomes ugly. This report is not just about Bali, but numerous well known travel destinations around the world. The press and the Spin Doctors all compete to sell their magical destination for the illusive Tourist Dollar. Unfortunately the Tourist themselves become part of the problem in many cases. Is there such a thing as over Tourism? Sure is!

Eric Unmacht writes to his story and it is worth the read.
Legian, Indonesia - When tourists go to a travel agent to book a tropical holiday they're likely to be handed glossy brochures of Bali's white-sand beaches and crystal-clear blue waters.

That's why a recently leaked water quality report that put a question mark on it's reputation brought fierce reactin from government officials and businesses that depend on Bali's image as a tropical haven for overseas tourists.

"We operate the surf school next to a little river and it can bet pretty nasty in the rainy season, but generally the water's fine." said Jonni Morrison, a teacher at the Rip Curl School of Surf. "I can tell you five years ago it was a damn sght worse."

The report, which showed high levels of nutrient contaminants, as well as potentially dangerous heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, brought equal reaction from island residents convinced the ocean is being polluted by rapid development.

"It's very difficult to get a hold of good, efficient testing here, but have a look at a suburban drain or outlet in the States versus a suburban outlet here and see what it smells like," said Michael Ricos, a biologist and founder of Elia Environmental consulting company on Bali.

"The problem is we're getting RAW SEWAGE overflows, as well as vastly untreated amounts of high-nutrient rich water being let out into the ocean," he said. "That's a big problem."

Those who think any dispute involving water pollution can be easily solved bysimple, objective testing have only to look on the other side of the Indonesian archipelago at the ongoing battle between the government and the U.S. mining giant Newmont.

The company has been locked in a fierce public relations bttle with the government after being accused of polluting the waters of Sulawesi Island, with both the government and Newmont claiming to hold test results that contradict each other.

In the case of Bali, whose lifeline depends on its image as a tropical paradise, even after results showed some chemicals far above government-set limits for swimming and recreation, the head of the island's environmental agency insisted the water was safe.

"We test twice a year, in the rainy season and the dry season, and all the paramenters are under the limit," Ni Wayan Sudji said, "The sea in Bali is safe and good for swimming. Seven of our nine regencies have won awards from the national government."

Experts say that one reason for the government's apparent lack of concern about the test results is the subjective nature of their interpretation.

Luka Adhyakso, a toxicologist who works with the World Wildlife Fund in Jakarta said that, althought above limits, the contaminants found in the waters of some of Bali's most popular tourist beaches weren't seriously harmful for swimmers.

Besides a scratchy throat or itchy eyes that can come from nutrient contamination, the serious, long-term health problems come from heavy metals. Those problems, however, usually result from the consumption of the water or things that live in the water.

"Some of the chemicals that exist, the benchmarks are from the heavy metal family so there is always the potential that these chemicals can poison people from the food chain when they consume regular marine products from the vicinity" Adhyasko said, "apart from that, it's reasonably safe to swim there." HUH?

THE REPORT GOES ON - HELLO It seems to TRAVELSAPIEN there is a touch of denial on the part of BALI.

But sceptics say that the biggest reason the government isn't likely to take immediate action is the lack of immediate effect on visitor's health, as tourists drink purified water. HELLO! How about swimming in it? Just a thought.

Environmentalists point to possible effects on the local Balinese population - who drink out of the rivers and eat plenty of fish - but say absent conclusive research and evidence, government officials and polluters are able to ignore the problem.

Fact seems little effort is being made to clean up the continual degradation of waters off BALI.
Another interesting website you may wish to visit

These people show Tourists the underbelly and dark side of BALI all to the discomfort of officials who deny there are problems in paradise. TRAVELSAPIEN leaves it to you all to conclude is BALI - UGLY TOURISM? To this is the contribution of Tourists to the general disgard of bottles, wrappers, and junk. Without adequate care in removal the mess remains on land, beaches and water. That is a Tourist responsibility to caretake paradise so everyone following can enjoy without worrying about their health and well-being. Do your part to keep your favorite retreat pristine and natural. As to governments and businesses who hide or live in denial a pox on them all. Exposing UGLY TOURISM is a good thing!