How Bali's Creative Scene Helped Make It a Tourist Mecca

How Bali's Creative Scene Helped Make It a Tourist Mecca
Bali temple 1912 © KITLV

Bali, an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, has been known as one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. The rise of Bali's popularity in terms of tourism began in the 1930s, when a group of artists and writers from various countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States started to visit Bali and wrote about its cultural uniqueness and natural beauty. This sparked an interest in Bali among travelers and eventually led to its global recognition.

In 1932, the first tourist accommodation was built in Bali by a Dutch entrepreneur named Antonius Johannes Rudolf Zandvliet. The hotel, called Bali Beach Hotel, was located in Sanur, and its establishment marked the beginning of Bali's tourism industry. During this time, Bali's tourism industry was still relatively small and catered mostly to wealthy travelers who were interested in exploring Bali's culture and natural attractions.

Bali's popularity as a tourist destination can be attributed to several factors.

Firstly, Bali's unique culture and traditional arts have been a major draw for tourists for decades. Bali has a rich cultural heritage, with traditional arts such as dance, music, and painting being an integral part of Balinese life. This culture has been preserved and celebrated over the years, and has attracted tourists who are interested in experiencing something different and authentic.

Secondly, Bali's stunning natural beauty has been a major factor in its popularity as a tourism destination. From the lush rice paddies and forests to the beautiful beaches and ocean views, Bali's natural environment is truly breathtaking. This has attracted tourists who are looking for a beautiful and relaxing getaway.

Thirdly, Bali's warm and welcoming people have been another factor in its popularity. The Balinese are known for their friendliness and hospitality, and this has made the island a welcoming and comfortable place for tourists to visit.

Fourthly, Bali's history as a cultural crossroads has also contributed to its popularity. The island has been influenced by Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic cultures over the centuries, and this has resulted in a unique blend of traditions and beliefs that is evident in Bali's art, music, and architecture.

Finally, Bali's strategic location in Southeast Asia has also been a factor in its popularity. Bali is easily accessible from many other countries in the region, and this has made it a convenient destination for tourists who are exploring Southeast Asia.

Bali's tourism industry has also adapted to changing trends, offering a wide range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury villas and resorts.

The rise of Bali's tourism industry can also be attributed to the significant impact of European artists and writers visiting the island in the past. In the 1930s, a group of European artists and writers, such as Walter Spies, Miguel Covarrubias, and Rudolf Bonnet, were drawn to Bali's unique culture and stunning natural beauty. They were inspired by Bali's traditional arts, including dance, music, and painting, and many of them made Bali their home for an extended period.

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)
Water Spies Panting (© tokped)

These European artists and writers wrote extensively about Bali's culture, customs, and art, which brought attention to the island from around the world. Their work helped to create an image of Bali as a unique and exotic destination, and it played a significant role in the branding of Bali as a tourist destination. Their influence is still evident today, as Bali's traditional arts and culture continue to be a major draw for tourists.

One of the most significant impacts of the European artists and writers visiting Bali was their promotion of Balinese traditional arts, particularly dance and music. They helped to popularize Balinese dance performances, which are now an essential part of Bali's cultural heritage and a significant draw for tourists. The famous Kecak dance, which features a group of men chanting and moving in unison, was actually created by Walter Spies and the Balinese dancer Wayan Limbak in the 1930s.

In addition to promoting Bali's traditional arts, the European artists and writers also helped to create a perception of Bali as a unique and exotic destination. Their paintings and writings depicted Bali as a land of tropical beauty, with lush forests, terraced rice paddies, and pristine beaches. This image helped to attract travelers to Bali, drawn by the promise of an exotic and culturally rich experience.

Antonio Blanco, a Spanish artist who settled in Bali in the 1950s, also played a significant role in Bali's rise to popularity as a tourist destination. Blanco fell in love with Bali's culture and natural beauty, and he became an ambassador for Bali's art scene. He built a stunning house in Ubud, which is now the Blanco Renaissance Museum, and filled it with his own artwork, as well as Balinese art and artifacts.

Bali Woman by Antonio Blanco
Bali Woman by Antonio Blanco

Blanco's artwork depicted the beauty of Bali's landscapes, as well as the people and their culture. His paintings were colorful and vibrant, capturing the essence of Bali's beauty and charm. Blanco's artwork helped to promote Bali as a destination for artists and art lovers, and his influence is still evident today in the many art galleries and museums that showcase Balinese art.

Blanco's reputation as an artist and his love for Bali also attracted other artists and writers to the island, further promoting Bali's image as a cultural destination. Many of these artists, such as Don Antonio Maria Blanco, Jean-Marc Panteix, and Jean-Pierre Labordette, also settled in Bali and contributed to the island's vibrant art scene.

In the 1960s, Bali's tourism industry experienced a significant boost when the Indonesian government started to invest in the island's infrastructure, such as building new roads and airports. The government also promoted Bali as a tourist destination, highlighting its unique culture and beautiful scenery. As a result, Bali's tourism industry started to attract more travelers, including backpackers and budget travelers, who were drawn to Bali's affordability and laid-back atmosphere.

The 1980s saw another surge in Bali's popularity, with more international airlines offering direct flights to Bali from major cities around the world. Bali's tourism industry became more sophisticated, with the development of luxury resorts and spas. The island also became a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons, with its beautiful beaches and romantic atmosphere.

Tags: Bali
Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
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