In Bali, the small hamlet of Uma Abian in Belayu village, Tabanan, has become a fertile ground for the development of community-based tourism.
With assistance provided by Agung Prana, a native and influential figure in Bali’s tourist industry, the local people have developed their area into an interesting destination and, more importantly, a model that other villages could replicate.
One of the locals involved in the community-based tourism is Wayan Purna, 63, whose house lies next to Prana’s. Two new one-room bungalows stand in the house’s front yard. Purna is renting these bungalows to visiting tourists.
The new business has brought a steady flow of income since it started last July and Purna was busy overseeing the construction of the third bungalow when Bali Daily visited him recently.
“The plot used to be populated by a bamboo grove and a pig pen,” Purna recalled, with a big grin on his face.
A construction laborer and farmer, Purna’s interest in tourism rose after learning the success story of his two neighbors, who had established cooperation with Prana four years ago. They each built two bungalows in their family compounds and the business brought an average of Rp 30 million (US$2,700) in additional income to each family.
“Initially I wanted to lease or sell that empty plot of land in my yard to Pak Prana because I didn’t understand a thing about tourism. But he discouraged me from doing that and instead offered to assist me in setting up a new business.”
He pointed out that the two bungalows were constructed using money loaned from a bank and cash provided by Prana.
“I started renting out four rooms in my house in 1996 and it turned out that my clients really loved it. I expanded the buildings and adding a dining area and toilets. I have a travel agency business, so it isn’t very difficult to get visitors who are willing to stay overnight in this village,” Prana recalled.
It was about that time that Prana pioneered the development of tourist accommodation in Pemuteran, an isolated beach in the western part of Buleleng regency. Later on, the hotel, the Bali Taman Sari, emerged as a leading facility and Prana gained global recognition for his role in establishing a community-based initiative that protects and conserves Pemuteran’s coral reefs and marine ecosystem.
As the number of visitors wanting to spend a night in a simple village kept increasing, Prana initiated in 2006 a scheme to involve the local community in the promising enterprise.
“Actually, I could build all the facilities on my land or purchase the land offered by my fellow villagers. But I believe in moving forward together and in sharing the fortune I get with my community.”
He soon secured a partnership with the owners of lush rice fields in the village. They agreed not to sell the rice fields and gradually embraced organic farming, while Prana ensured that part of the revenue generated by the visitors would go to the farmers.
Prana’s company, PT Taman Sari, provides management and promotion services for all the accommodation facilities in the village. In return, it receives a management fee of 25 percent of the room rate from the bungalows’ owners.
“All the owners have to do is ensure that the rooms and the surrounding area are always clean.”
As of 2013, Prana had managed to enroll eight households into the scheme. The hamlet now has 32 available rooms offered at Rp 800,000 per night.
“The villagers have also been involved in various parts of this business, from providing guided tours to hosting a party with traditional performances and music.”