It is fair to say that while Bali has had a largely successful year with tourism so far, the journey has not been without turbulence.
As the island grapples with a rise in bad behavior by a small minority of tourists, leaders are working around the clock to create greater public awareness about how tourists can and should respect the culture on the Island of the Gods during their visit.
Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster has just launched a new cultural promotion campaign in partnership with the London School of Public Relations Institute.
The cultural campaign is called Bali Shanti, meaning Bali Peace. The campaign has been designed to help promote Balinese culture within all aspects of tourism on the island with a focus on peace and harmony.
Governor Koster told reporters at the launch of the campaign that the preservation of Balinese culture, customs, and traditions must be a top priority.
He shared, “This culture must also be respected not only nationally but also by foreign tourists who are in Bali.”
While the vast majority of tourists are respectful of Balinese culture, there has been a rising number of reports of tourists behaving badly over the last six months.
An aspect that isn’t highlighted as often is how many tourists don’t engage in the culture at all. For many people, Bali is considered a resort and party destination; many tourists fly into the island, head straight to their resort, and seldom venture further than the foyer.
While it does little harm in the grand scheme of things, this is something that leaders want to change. Leaders and communities in Bali want to see tourism become a greater medium for cultural awareness, education, and engagement.
Speaking at the launch event, the CEO of the LSPR Institute, Prita Kemal Gani, shared how the Bali Santi campaign has been designed as a form of national branding.
The campaign will feature a series of foreign representatives who have lived in Bali.
These folks will be positioned as ambassadors to help explain Balinese culture to the communities in their own countries.
They will be tasked with bringing the cultural divide and bringing communities together.
The Bali Santi campaign is just one of a series of measures put in place by the provincial government in Bali to help ensure tourists are aware of the ways they should and shouldn’t behave in Bali.
That being said, leaders and communities are not only wanting to curb the bad behavior of some tourists on the island but actively encourage tourists to engage in learning and exploring Balinese culture for their own benefit.
Bali is one of the most culturally rich islands in the world, and there are a wealth of cultural experiences that are not to be missed during a visit to the island.
One of the most popular cultural attractions in Bali right now is the GWK Cultural Park in the very south of the island.
The GWK Cultural Park is a fantastic starting point for tourists who want to learn about Balinese culture. Visitors can learn about Balinese Hinduism and how the principles of the faith influence every aspect of daily life.
During a visit, guests can watch a magical traditional dance, either the Barong or the Kecak dance.
The highlight of a visit to the GWK Cultural Park is exploring the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue. Standing at an impressive 121m tall, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue is the tallest statue in Indonesia.
Guests can also take a guided tour of the museum inside the statue, where they can learn about everything from Balinese music to textiles and the incredible mythologies that are still shared across communities today.
One of the most famous cultural experiences to take part in Bali is a water blessing ceremony and the Tirta Empul Temple just outside of Ubud.
Made famous around the world by the film Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts, taking part in a traditional melukat ceremony is often noted by tourists as the cultural highlight of their vacation.