By Ahmad Cholis Hamzah*
Almost everybody knows Bali – the island of God, even a person that does not know Indonesia or does not know either that Bali is actually part of Indonesia , he or she knows Bali. Many times I encounter foreigners overseas and introduce me that I am from Indonesia, they say “oh Bali”. It is undeniable that Bali is one of major world tourist’s destinations and the Island successfully captivated the world attention. In 2017 Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Award name Bali as the World’s Best Destination, crowned at number one of world destination outranked renowned tourist hotspots such as London, Paris, Rome, New York, Barcelona, Siem Reap, Prague and Phuket.
Former Indonesian minister of Cooperative and Small Medium Enterprise Mr. A.A.G.N Puspayoga once said that Bali Island becomes the world main tourism destination was already predicted by kings in Bali in the bygone days. Since then tourism in Bali has rapidly flourished and becomes one of factors that affects the rapid growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). The island becomes the “training center” of SMEs as well as young entrepreneurs to innovate and to be creative.
The development of tourism in the Island is so dynamic, it can be seen in Ubud area for example how locals take part in such development by providing accommodations to visitors and Ubud becomes famous as a homestay haven. Through digital economy and digital literacy local owners enter the world tourism market offering remarkable experience. Obviously homestays industry in Ubud can create employment, becomes destination competitiveness and foster creative entrepreneurs.
It is true the town of Ubud - around 25 miles or 40 km north of Denpasar the capital city of Bali attracts visitors as it is known as a center of traditional crafts and dance. The surrounding Ubud district’s rainforest and terraced rice paddy fields, dotted with Hindu temples and shrines are among Bali’s most famous landscapes.
Vice governor of Bali IB Rai Dharmawijaya Mantra gave an example of the rapid growth of entrepreneurs in Ubud area where there are hundreds of rooms of homestays run by people of Ubud. This robust development of small hotels/homestays has positive domino effect on the growing number of young entrepreneurs that enter business opportunities in sectors such as culinary, souvenir and cultural events as well as transportation and art galleries. Interestingly that huge monetary circulation due to this development is used by these entrepreneurs as working capital to preserve Balinese culture since they offer visitors with Balinese cuisine, show Balinese dance performance, Balinese traditional outfit, offer tourists with Balinese coffee as well as souvenirs and hospitality.
It is therefore, that the development of SMEs in Bali has significant multiplier effects not only in its economy such as increasing income per-capita, reducing poverty, contributing to the Island’s economic growth but also in preserving culture. And Bali is attractive is not only due to its beautiful beaches, verdant rice paddy fields and friendly locals but it is also due to its preserved culture that is passed down from generation to generation.
A senior author of Good News from Indonesia