Tri Hita Karana Looks to Support Sustainable Tourism

A recent article posted by Antara News looks at the growth and impact of Bali’s tourism industry and the efforts to restore balance through the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which means “three causes of well-being” or “three reasons for prosperity,” that are connected with balance and harmony; with God, with people and with the environment.

Antara News begin by explaining some of the history of tourism in Bali and that it has been the main driver of Bali’s economy since Indonesia was still colonized by the Dutch. Historical records show that Bali’s tourism industry began to develop rapidly in the 1930s when the Dutch East Indies government built a replica of a traditional Balinese house and presented about 50-dancers and musicians at the Paris Colonial Exhibition in 1931.

Visits by celebrities followed, including Charlie Chaplin and world-renowned painters like Walter Spies, Miguel Covarrubias, and Rudolf Bonnet, who lived for a long time in Bali and used the island as an inspiration for their work.

It wasn’t long before Bali became a popular tourist destination in Asia, and was supported by the Dutch East Indies government’s tourism office (VTV) in Batavia (Jakarta) who promoted Bali as “The Lost Paradise,” write Antara News.

Bali’s situation did not change much after Indonesia gained its independence and was still a magnet for foreign tourists, which attracted Balinese to start and own businesses and make the most of the tourism potential.

Political dynamics and grassroots conflicts during the transition of power from the Old Order to the New Order government as well as natural disasters did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of foreign tourists to visit Bali.

However, the growth in the number of tourist visits and the proliferation of tourism-based industries on the island have affected the relationship within Balinese society, culture, and have also impacted nature conservation.

A number of rice fields, which supported food security in Bali and even the country, have been converted into hotels, villas, luxury resorts, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues.

As a result, problems began to occur on the island, starting from gentrification, overflowing waste, cultural and traditional practices being left behind, and water supply problems to crimes. These issues have spurred Bali’s tourism business players to try and restore balance in Bali and one of the ways to do this is to return Bali’s tourism to its roots that have to align with Bali’s life and the people’s philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, say Antara News.

Tri Hita Karana

Tri Hita Karana upholds the balance of the relationship between humans and God (parahyangan), humans and humans (pawongan), and humans and nature (palemahan).

Since 2020, when Bali Provincial Regulation No. 5 of 2020 concerning Standards for the Bali Cultural Tourism Implementation was issued, local governments have referred to Tri Hita Karana and local wisdom Sad Kerthi when conducting tourism practices, say Antara News.

The regulation, signed by Bali Governor I Wayan Koster, stipulates that tourism practices should be oriented towards the principles of sustainability.

Chair of the Alliance of Bali Marginal Tourism Actors, I Wayan Puspa Negara, explained that tourism in Bali has prioritized the balance of nature based on Tri Hita Karana.

“When talking about destinations in Bali, most of them are natural destinations in which there are living cultures because Balinese culture is sourced from agriculture. Hence, if there is no agriculture, there is no Balinese culture,” Negara stated, adding that nature plays an important role in terms of Bali’s destinations.

Because of this, he said, tourism practices in Bali cannot be separated from the Tri Hita Karana philosophy, as it is what makes it sustainable.

Environmental and cultural preservation will happen if agriculture and nature are maintained. Hence, Negara said his side seeks to strike a balance between agricultural development and tourism development, say Antara News.

He affirmed that a strong agriculture system will result in plentiful food production and sustain the ecosystem, which is why Bali’s remaining rice fields must be protected, as land conversion remains the main threat, prompting the need to improve spatial governance in Bali.

Managing Nusa Dua

State-run Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) is committed to applying the Tri Hita Karana philosophy in managing the Nusa Dua area, say Antara News.

General Manager of the Nusa Dua area, I Gusti Ngurah Ardita stated that Tri Hita Karana is a concept that is inseparable from the area planning, development, management, and maintenance.

“We have a master plan that has the layout of buildings based on the concept of Bali’s Tri Hita Karana. In the Nusa Dua area, there are palemahan, pawongan, and parahyangan,” he explained.

The concept of palemahan is applied to green zones; pawongan is in the hotel areas, while the parahyangan concept is where places of worship in the area will not be touched in any development, Ardita said.

Hotels built in the Nusa Dua area must comply with the master plan and ITDC’s block plan.

“We have a community design, the hotel buildings here strongly reflect the Balinese building layout, starting from the height rules, and the architectural style also combines modern architecture and Balinese architecture,” Ardita said.

Nine temples are located in the Nusa Dua area, and one of them is in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which the community manages instead of the hotel. During the Melasti ceremony, people will flock to the temple inside the hotel.

Tourism can, therefore, go hand in hand with the Balinese life rooted in the Tri Hita Karana philosophy that preserves nature and maintains harmonious relations between people and tourists as well as the relationship with God.

Source: Antara News

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