Bali CoBTA, Indonesia – Community Engagement & Development

finalist[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Bali CoBTA for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Finalist. This award recognizes exceptional commitment to supporting the local community and economy in which your business operates.

Bali Community Based Tourism Association (Bali CoBTA) is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that promotes sustainable tourism. By facilitating the development of community based tourism villages, tourists are given a unique opportunity to experience local culture and community life, while communities are empowered to earn an additional income by preserving and showcasing their culture and heritage.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Strong capacity building.
  • Supports larger community.
  • The advisory committee and organisational structure of the association (including the governor of Bali!) is really a great achievement.
  • The organisation is coordinating support for the communities, so in this sense it is highly involved in community development.

Inspiring Management

  • Working with tour operators to sell packages showcasing local agriculture, nature, home industries, historical sites etc.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Working with seven villages with approx minimum 10 homestays per village.
  • Association operates as non-profit NGO with multi-stakeholder engagement.
  • Willingness to participate in association must come from community itself with support from community leader.
  • Work with NGOs/private sector to tackle issues e.g. water shortages and drinkable water.
  • Community encouraged to source local food produce and local crafts from village craftsmen.
  • Their mission is Tourism, Trade and Investment – using tourism as a way to open up investment to support local SMEs to grow.
  • Work with potential communities for CBT and provide training (housekeeping,  guiding) in collaboration with other institutes or tourism businesses, to empower them to join.
  • Office staff receive minimum wage; communities receive alternative income through tourism packages.
  • Regular meetings with community leaders to progress, improvements required and local needs.

Cultural Preservation

  • During traditional gatherings or ceremonies, the host invites guests and lends traditional dress to participate in. The host provides insightful information about what the event is about.

Unique Ubud – authentic homestays

Responsible Tourism Travel Story

Agata Zborowska, Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Intern shares her Balinese travel diary with us.

My experiences from Bali

Visiting wonderful Bali – where beautiful landscapes meet architectural treasures, rich history and mystical atmosphere, is many travellers’ dream.

First stop – Ubud, a small town surrounded by picturesque rice terraces peacefully located in the centre of the island.

Despite being firmly on the tourist path for years and gaining notoriety since being featured as the backdrop for the movie Eat Pray Love, Ubud still manages to keep its charm.

Yuliati House HomestayBy luck of chance I found a cozy homestay called Yuliati House which gave me an opportunity to observe the daily life of a Balinese family. Initially, I was not completely convinced it was the right choice as details online were scarce with rather blurry pictures (plus, my late night arrival there in pitch black middle of the night did not help). However when I woke up the following morning, all my doubts were completely gone and here is why…

The homestay’s inhabitants were not only extremely welcoming and helpful with any requests we made, but also managed, in spite of the regular stream of tourists they receive, to keep the place running as a typical Balinese home. From the build of the house to the furniture made from the locally supplied bamboo, from the garden with its lush green vegetation to the rituals practiced by the family such as the tradition of making daily Hindu offerings from flowers and food, everything is, as far as we knew, traditionally maintained.

Yuliati House HomestayBalinese culture was all around me, the owner practiced daily on a traditional Balinese bamboo music instrument for relaxation and one of the daughters, a traditional Bali dancer, prepared her outfit and colorful makeup for the show every evening. She later became a teacher to my friend who as a professional dancer could not miss an opportunity for a one-to-one Balinese dancing class in those beautiful surroundings.

I had originally scheduled to stay there for 2-3 nights, but since it was such a marvelous experience, I ended up extending my stay to 10 days and I was not the only one!

Our presence there did not interrupt or interfere with their daily lifestyle.  The homestay’s family visit was a true testimony that tourism and local community/lifestyle can co-exist and benefit both the visitor and the indigenous inhabitant. It did not feel commercialized in any way; responsible tourism seemed to be a realistic and natural practice here. It was implemented by using simple measures, such as asking us daily if we needed our towels and sheets changed in order to avoid unnecessary use of water and electricity for washing, all outside lights were turned off at night, organic waste was composted.

Homestay’s residents along with many other locals, whom I had a pleasure meeting while in Ubud, won my heart as the friendliest, most genuine and spiritual people I have met during all of my travels.

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Staying true to your culture for authentic experiences…

Wild Asia is delighted to learn about this business that stays true to their culture which provides guests’ with memorable authentic experiences. Tourism can often result in a loss of cultural identity of destinations, so we are thrilled to hear about examples like this that uses tourism as a powerful tool to keep culture alive. Homestays like this one proves that even small efforts made by its owners can help to preserve local culture and the original lifestyle true to the natives for centuries. The tourists, who often travel in search for such deep cultural experiences, learn to respect the heritage of indigenous people and become educated about the value of local culture by simply being engaged in the daily lifestyle on such a personal level.

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(Photos: credit Agata Zborowska)

Do you have a story?

Have you witnessed something on your holiday that has disturbed you or amazed you? We’d love to hear your own experiences. If you’ve been exposed to travel experiences that have left you feeling something’s not quite right here, get in touch. Equally, we love hearing about inspirational tourism that’s doing wonders for local communities. Share your travel story by emailing it to, rt@wildasia.org