Who hasn't been captivated by the charm of Bali? This enchanting island is not only a popular tourist destination in Indonesia, but according to TripAdvisor, it will be the second most popular destination in the world in 2023. Surprisingly, Bali's fame as a tourist magnet is not a recent phenomenon, but has roots dating back to the 1900s and even during the Dutch colonial era.
According to Kompaspedia, the beginning of Bali's promotion as a tourist paradise can be traced back to the travels of Henri Hubert van Kol, a member of the Dutch parliament who decided to explore Indonesia, including Bali, for his personal recreation. Relying on his personal resources, he documented his travel experiences in a book titled "Uit Onze Kolonien" or "From Our Colonies", summarizing his adventurous journey in 826 thick pages.
In 1914, the world of Dutch East Indies tourism took an important step when the Vereeniging Toeristenverkeer in Nederlandsch Indie (VTV) opened an official tourist office in Bali. This initiative was an expansion of VTV from its headquarters in Batavia and its traces can be followed in the book entitled "Bali: Cultural Tourism and Tourist Culture" by Michel Picard.
VTV, subsidized by the Dutch East Indies Government, has been a dynamic force in the development of tourism since its establishment by Governor General Van Heutsz in Weltevreden, Batavia, in 1908. With functions that included promotion, information and tourism development, the VTV became one of the pioneers that shaped the face of tourism in the Dutch East Indies.
The main task of this branch was to improve the image of Bali as a new tourist destination in the Dutch East Indies. Previously, Dutch East Indies travelers were generally limited to exploring the island of Java, but now a wide door to new beauty was opening in Bali.
VTV didn't stop at conventional advertising; it left its mark by publishing a travel guide entitled "Illustrated Tourist Guide to East Java, Bali, and Lombok" in 1914. In this work, it was revealed that Bali could only be reached by sea from Surabaya, requiring two to three weeks and a willingness to embark on an adventure with limited facilities.
The rhythm of Bali's tourist life began to vibrate when Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (KPM), the Dutch Kingdom's shipping company, opened weekly shipping routes between Singapore, Batavia, Semarang and Surabaya to Buleleng in 1924. Not only that, but the growth of the hospitality industry accelerated with the increasing number of tourists. In 1933, even the Dutch Royal Airlines started a civilian flight route from Surabaya to Bali, opening a new chapter in the island's tourism history.
Since the late 20th century, the Dutch East Indies government has been active in promoting Bali's charms. They not only built tourism infrastructure, but also disseminated information about Bali through various media, ranging from travel guides, brochures, posters to weekly magazines. All these steps contributed to the promotion of Bali as a stunning tourist destination.
What about the present?
In the present era, the tourism sector plays a crucial role for a country, serving not only as an economic driver, but also as a means to introduce cultural riches to other nations. In Indonesia, an important role in supporting the progress of tourism is played by the Community for Indonesia Tourism Promotion (Komunitas Promosi Pariwisata Indonesia).
The existence of this community is very crucial as its main focus is to promote the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) to UNESCO, introduce the "Indonesian Dream Country" to foreign tourists, implement the internationalization of regional tourism through DX and AI technologies, and promote the digitalization of tourism businesses.
This community does not only focus on promoting tourism abroad, but also plays an important role in increasing the popularity of domestic tourism. Some of its initiatives include promoting the charms of mountains and seas to urban communities, conducting research, proposing tourism industry policies to the government, and providing international language training to rural communities.
In an effort to strengthen connectivity, this community is actively building networks with the Indonesian diaspora abroad, establishing relationships with foreign universities, conducting benchmarking studies in tourism management abroad, and engaging in exchanges with foreign tourism associations.
The development of these connections and collaborations will serve as a foundation for the creation of global synergies. Thus, the hope for the future is the realization of sustainable, diverse and in-depth tourism in Indonesia, with positive impacts on both economic and cultural sustainability.