I am talking about ethical tourism
practiced by the tourist to ensure the money they spend on holiday
to and in Bali goes to the Balinese, not the people who suppress
and inflict them.
"Bali Hotels Association" used to call themselves the
all telling presumptuous name "Casa Grande" and who
for me epitomize the sales & marketing over substance, untenable
self-important and too often highly selfish nature of vastly over-rated
hotels which do very little for the Balinese, culture or value
for money. I believe by avoiding members of the BHA and PATA
you will get so much more out of your holiday.
The more I came to know Bali's tourism industry, the more I came
to despise it for the cheating anti-Balinese money making machine
it really is.
I hope and trust every western tourist who reads this page will
agree with what is important, but I believe 75% + will then go
on to do exactly what they should not (while loudly professing
they did). Sorry, but I consider we live in informed but also
selfish times and I ask you please prove me wrong as the Balinese
need your help. If nothing else, please do not tell the rest of
the world you are being ethical when you are not. If you report
to others you went to XYZ hotel and they were 100% Balinese friendly
when they were not and you are just saying that to avoid shame,
more shame on you because of the pother people who take your word
in good faith and at face value. If you can't be ethical
in Bali, please shut up or even better don't go there.
Be advised, the current trend of certain anti-Balinese hotels
and other travel organizations on their web sites to feature so
called sponsorships and / or other paltry charitable projects
for example benefiting a single Balinese school child to gain
goodwill from potential foreign tourists sickens me. The projects
are clearly cheaply conceived and executed, extremely selfish
marketing ploys by the very people who oppress the Balinese; do
not be taken in by this evil con trick.
So here is my list to ensure you get a great, truly Balinese,
truly Bali friendly holiday.
1) Hotel / villa / reservation agent rates that include
tax and service.
If you are interested in a hotel or villa in Bali which
is offering a nightly rate including tax and service, please make
sure they are not stealing this money from the hotel staff and
island. The tax and service element for Indonesia is 21%; 10%
sales tax, 11% service charge (hotels can legally keep 1% for
staff breakages). So if you see a nightly rate of US$121 per night
including tax and service, ask the agent or hotel if they are
prepared to give you the same rate but without the service element
included as this is discretional, because you would like to give
the service charge directly to the staff yourself. Also ask them
if you can get a full tax receipt which shows they have paid 10%
to the tax authority (which goes to public services of course).
If they will not do this, they are liars, the rate does not include
full tax and service.
2) Ask who the owners of the business are - are they
Balinese / based in Bali?
Ask who are the principle directors of the hotel or the
companies that own the hotel and then do a search on the Internet
to see if they have anything bad against their name. Also ask
if any of the directors are members of the Suharto family; remember
that thousands of Balinese were murdered by the authorities under
Suharto and that his family stands accused of massive corruption
(as being where they got their money to build hotels in the first
3) Ask what their staff policies are.
Specifically you need to ask the ratio of full time to
part time workers (a high temporary ratio indicates minimum wage
avoidance), whether directors or senior managers on western salary
levels get a share of the service charges (they should not to
be fair / legal of course), ask whether the service charge is
distributed amongst the staff equally or whether it is pro-rated
according to their salary (it should be the former), ask whether
they pay staff the minimum wage or more, ask what redundancy and
pregnancy schemes they have (or do they just send staff home without
pay), ask them what their staff holiday entitlement is.
4) Ask what their environmental policies are.
If all you get back is some garbage about only spraying
mosquito chemicals at certain times, asking guests to use towels
over 2 days not 1 (but nothing about using eco-friendly detergent)
and offering organic tea, they likely are about as environmental
as a smoke stack with a degree in marketing.
5) Ask them if they are the subject of any demonstrations,
legal action or bad publicity over their location and / or trading
You would be amazed at the number of hotels which the locals despise
because they built too close to a sacred temple, got a very contentious
building permit or practice other anti-Balinese acts. Hotels such
as the Four Seasons Sayan (Ubud), Le Meridien Nirwana and Waka
Shorea spring to mind. Also ask them what they do to support the
6) Ask them whether they offer bespoke or 3rd party tours.
Any hotel that offers specialized tours they organize
and conduct themselves obviously care about the quality of service
their guests receive and this is likely to be reflected across
7) Ask them for their operational licence and tax numbers.
If they will (can) not give you these, run a mile.
8) Do a special Internet search
Do a search on Google or Yahoo for the name of the hotel
or villa you are interested in plus the words "warning",
"complaint" and "report"; e.g. "warning
(hotel name)" to pull up what the sales sites may not want
you to read!
9) Ask about the hotel's foreign currency exchange rates!
Whether you book by agent or direct with a hotel, ask about the
hotels credit card exchange rate policy; ask if they use the prevailing
bank or their own rate (get them to tell you what it is the day
you enquire and then compare that with the true
exchange rate on Yahoo). You see, when you come to check out,
even if you paid for your room up front, you will have something
to pay such as food bills, spa treatments, etc. right? Many hotels
in Bali (and elsewhere) make extra profit by defrauding guests
who pay their check-out final bill by credit card. What dishonest
hotels do is charge you in Indonesian Rupiah for a hotel bill
calculated in dollars at a fraudulent exchange rate (where they
make money). Hotels often make an extra 10% or more; do not let
hotels who do this get away with it. If they fix their exchange
rate, get the cash in Indonesian Rupiah from a local bank. Better
still, avoid hotels who cheat their guests like this altogether.
Finally, your own conduct. It never ceased to amaze me how badly
many western tourists treat the Balinese and Indonesians. Please
do not swear at hawkers even if they are like flies. Please make
sure your service charge gets to all of the hotel staff and in
equal proportion; please do not let one person get everything
and the poor cleaners, gardeners and others get nothing. If you
want to help the poor in Bali do not give blindly; unfortunately
many people run sympathy scams which net them money well intentioned
westerners give for the poor. If you go out into the real Bali
you will meet real Balinese; the real areas are not just more
authentic and warmer but also poorer. Gifts of pencils and small
items with your own country's / culture's images on them are always
gratefully received by the rural schools, but please make sure
the children receive them; school teachers in Bali are not always
the caring community members you would expect. Please do not buy
fake goods as it is a fact terrorist groups make money from counterfeit
goods. Please report any corruption, fraud or extortion you see
to sites like Fugly
Bali; do not let the thieves keep their public pride.
If you can do this and act accordingly by not rewarding the cheats
and thieves in Indonesia, God bless you, you have helped yourselves
get a better, more genuine holiday, you have helped the Balinese
people and you have helped Bali.