We included Bali in our 2004, 2007, and 2009 surveys. It rated 58, 57, and 59, respectively. This year we asked panelists to restrict their assessments to the island's coastline. A significantly lower score suggests that the ecological damage and loss of cultural authenticity that the island as a whole faces may manifest themselves most acutely along the coast.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Development is crushing coastal resources and contributing to the sedimentation of once healthy reefs. Coastal water quality is degraded from pollution and sewage. Once clear waters are now murky green."
"You can still find some gems along the Bali coasts, but the scale and nature of development is of concern. The Bali government is working hard to maintain environmental quality and to also retain Balinese cultural icons and identities, but it is slowly being eroded. The traffic to get out of Denpasar really detracts. Outside of the main tourist areas the natural areas are good."
"The Balinese do hospitality very well. Some key local stakeholders are trying hard to address future sustainability issues. They are not there yet, but are making progress. Bali remains a wonderful place where many communities rely on tourism for their livelihoods. Many Balinese know the problems they face, and they do want to improve. The Balinese spirit is strong; the resources available are weak.”
“A big issue is the abundance of plastic bags. In some areas they are so prevalent they are smothering the vegetation."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.