Bali's booming tourism industry sparks concern

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Eleven years since bombs ripped through the Sari Club & Paddy's Bar, Bali's tourism industry has more than recovered. But the rapid development is causing environmental damage and cultural change.

In Bali, a group of young women are pinning their ambitions on Bali's tourism industry and the charitable foundation giving them a chance.

Benny Kusbandrianto manages the Bali Wise program, offering 6 months' schooling to disadvantaged women and girls aged 16 to 45, from across Indonesia.

"To break the poverty, right, so they live better in the future and also the women can also give a good education for their children," he says.

The women spend three months learning English, three more months on vocational skills, including training  in hotels and villas.

"Maybe if we can learn English better here we can have better opportunities in the future," says one of the girls.

The school's in Nusa Dua, beside the exclusive enclave of hotels and resorts which provide the girls' livelihood.

Benny says the tourism industry provides the girls with survival skills.

"If something happened with tourism industry here in the vocational class we also teach them about marketing, personal finance and also small business management."

Many are too young to remember what the terrorist bombings did to Bali's tourism industry.

In the 11 years since the first bombings, Balinese tourism has gone from bust to boom.

The number of tourists and rate of development, sometimes with a dubious disregard for regulations are taking their own toll on the environment and culture.

But Bali now can't live without it.  

Today, tourism accounts for about 60 per cent of Bali's economy.

With rice farmers increasingly selling off their land, there are moves to ensure future development's more community-driven and culturally considerate.

At the new barely developed Pandawa Beach in southern Nusa Dua, they're asking visitors what they'd like to see.

"Because tourism has got a lot from Bali, especially culture and environment, so tourism should give back," says Dr Agung Suryawan Wiranatha at Udayana University, who is leading the survey.

He wants tourists to pay a conservation charge to help protect it - 15 to 30,000 rupiah (or $1-$3 dollars) for Indonesians and $5-$15 for foreigners.

"So when tourists come to Bali they will see Bali clean from the plastic garbage, Bali is green or something like that," says Dr Wiranatha.

Expat Australian Mike O'Leary has the same hope. He runs the ROLE Foundation - for Rivers, Oceans and Land Ecology.

"What we're trying to do is fund the Balinese that do care, from the bottom up," says Mr O'Leary.

"They're not happy with their beautiful Bali being turned into a trash camp."

Mike O'Leary runs pollution education programs. His foundation also operates the Baliwise girls' school, sponsored by Coca Cola.

The students learn craft skills recycling rubbish - foil coffee sachets into handbags, plastic cups & drinking straws into table decorations, rice sacks into shopping bags.

Last week, the latest class graduated.

"We want to change our destiny, so our future can be better," says one graduate.

Source: World News Australia

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