Tabanan to control tourism development

by Wasti Atmodjo on 2012-07-21

As the regency with the largest area of agricultural fields on the island, Tabanan is ready to put a leash on the development of tourist facilities to preserve its paddy fields and maintain its status as a primary rice producer.

Deputy regent Komang Gede Sanjaya said on Thursday that the regency had been very selective in granting approval for the development of accommodation, especially in agricultural areas.

Tight selection is also applied before issuing licenses for the construction of hotels that need a large area.

Sanjaya said the regency administration had turned down many proposals, from both local and foreign investors.

He said his administration would not allow the development of star-rated and city hotels, such as the ones in Denpasar and Badung regency.

“Let the other regencies have the star-rated hotels and a lot of other types of tourist accommodations. We are proud to have many agricultural fields, and we are committed to preserve them,” he said, adding that the regency currently had 53,000 hectares of agricultural fields.

He said only tourism facilities with a commitment to environmental conservation would get a green light from the administration. The green light would also come with another caveat: the investor could only use 30 percent of the property for buildings, while the remaining 70 percent had to be left intact as paddy field or plantation.

“The investors must submit a detailed plan and drawing of their project and we will review it to see if the 30-70 scheme is reflected in that plan. Without it, we will never issue a license,” he said.

The policy, Sanjaya stressed, would be much tighter for Jatiluwih, a region with vast expanses of paddy fields that recently gained acknowledgement from UNESCO as part of the world’s cultural heritage. The administration will not be issuing licenses to build any types of accommodation, and would strictly regulate the existing villas in the area.

“We will not allow any new tourism project there,” Sanjaya said.

To anticipate the housing needs of local people, the administration has created a 100-hectare housing zone. The zone lies outside the 300-hectare protected paddy field zone.

Sanjaya said the policy would be implemented at least during this tenure, and he expected that his successor would continue the policy.

To support local farmers in maintaining their agricultural fields, the administration has also implemented a tax subsidy policy, through which it pays half of the land and property tax (PBB) owed by the local farmers. The policy was made possible by the new regulation that places PBB under the authority of the local administration.

“For the last five years, Tabanan administration, through a local agency, has bought a large quantity of the farmers’ harvests at the market price to prevent the price of rice from falling too low during the harvest period. So far, the agency has been able to absorb 50 percent of the total rice production.”

A senior figure in the island’s tourism industry, AA Gede Rai, expressed his support for the policy implemented by Tabanan regency. He said every regency in Bali should consider the balance between the number of incoming tourists and the number of available rooms.

He also pointed out that regencies should support each other in developing tourism, instead of competing.

“One regency has the tourist attraction and the other provides the accommodation. Portions of the tax revenue from the hotels should be allocated to manage the tourist attraction,” he said.

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