Bali hotel development plan stirs controversy

A controversy over hotel development is brewing in Bali, with a proposed $15-billion project that involves constructing artificial islets for luxury resorts in Benoa Bay sparking what the South China Morning Post is calling “the biggest protest movement seen in Bali for years.”

Amid rising visitor numbers (Bali saw 4 million international tourists last year), the government of the Indonesian province has been seeking development opportunities for years. In 2014, developer Tirta Wahana Bali International announced the reclamation project, which would involve piling up sand and dirt to build about 12 islets covering 1,700 acres.

But locals are not happy with the idea, in spite of potential job creation. Some feel that the tourist hub is already overcrowded. Some are concerned with environmental damage, some worry about how the development will affect the local fishing industry, and some claim that the plans will “desecrate holy sites in the pocket of Hinduism in Muslim-majority Indonesia.” As such, demonstrations against the project have been held almost every week for the past year.

Virtual Event

HOTEL OPTIMIZATION PART 2 | Now Available On-Demand

Survival in these times is highly dependent on a hotel's ability to quickly adapt and pivot their business to meet the current needs of travelers and the surrounding community. Join us for Optimization Part 2 – a FREE virtual event – as we bring together top players in the industry to discuss alternative uses when occupancy is down, ways to boost F&B revenue, how to help your staff adjust to new challenges and more, in a series of panels focused on how you can regain profitability during this crisis.


Major branded hotels have been signing deals for Bali in recent years—so many so that occupancy rates have reportedly decreased. The Post also claims that “some popular beaches become increasingly dirty” due to rapid development. 

In spite of the protests, the project has the support of Bali governor I Made Mangku Pastika, who says the bay is currently a muddy, rubbish-strewn area in need of revitalization.

No word yet on what hotels are eyeing those 12 islets, but if developers will have to face significant resistance from locals, they may consider looking elsewhere to build.

Suggested Articles

BarTouch Cloud provides hotels with manual minibars with the ability to track inventory levels and issue restock requests using any smart device.

A new entity will combine a number of brands, including Hoxton, Gleneagles, Delano, SLS, Mondrian, SO/, Hyde, Mama Shelter, 25h and 21c Museum Hotels.

After two years, the Galt House in Louisville, Ky., has completed its $80 million upgrade.