Rice field

Rice and tourism

Bali has changed enormously over the last few decades 

Tourism has become the island’s principal source of income, whereas that used to be farming. 

Tourism threatens culture and the natural environment

The facts and figures speak for themselves: between 2000 and 2017 the number of foreign tourists visiting the island has jumped from just over a million to more than 5.5 million annually. Obviously, this has had a major impact. Each year more than 1000 hectares of sawah (rice paddies) disappear, roughly equal to 2000 football fields, to be replaced by hotels, houses and golfing greens. 

These tourist facilities exhaust the island’s water provisions and other amenities. And that leads to depletion of the water reserves needed to maintain the paddy fields. The exhibition explores the impact of tourism on rice farming and why rice cultivation plays such a key role in Balinese culture. 

Tourism, a blessing or a curse?

The growing tourist influx is seen by some Balinese as a positive sign of progress. But others see it as a negative development and a significant threat to the natural environment and indigenous culture. People’s responses vary; some go with the flow and others rebel. In the exhibition you’ll hear various people give their opinion. 

Tourism facts and figures

  • Bali numbers around 4.2 million inhabitants, compared with 14,4333372 tourist visitors in 2017. Of these 5.,697,739 were foreign nationals, while 8,735,633 were Indonesian.
  • In terms of surface area Bali comprises just 0,02% of Indonesia’s total land mass. However, the island plays host to more than 40% of the tourists visiting Indonesia. 
  • Between 2000 and 2017 the number of foreign tourists jumped from 1,376,839 to 5,697,739.
  • The majority of foreign tourists (24%) come from China, followed by Australia (19%) and India (5%). Nearly 2% of the tourist total comes from the Netherlands, putting the Dutch in 13th place. 
  • The most popular tourist attraction on the island is the temple of Tanah Lot, which attracted more than 3.5 million tourists in 2016.
  • Bali’s first hotel opened in 1928 in Denpasar. By 2015 the number of hotels had risen to 2079.