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Getting In Touch With Bali Culture

24 February 2009

Robinson Crusoe might not originally have planed to explore the pristine tropical Island of Ms a Tierra. However, since the ship he went with was wrecked by vicious storm, he had no choice but attempted to save himself to nearest island. Like blessing in disguise, he has fallen in love with the island for some 28 years. He could do many things and obtain valuable experiences while waiting for the time to return home.

At that time, he probably did know about the terms agrotourism. Yet, without being realized he has enjoyed a variety of tourism activities. He got acquainted with local tribes and did farming as the local did. Agro-tourism is similar to what might have been carried out by the figure Robinson Crusoe in the novel authored by Daniel Defoe. It is the form of tourism taking advantage of rural culture as tourist attraction. Its focus lies on cultural landscape. Its worth noting here that the culture does not only include the arts and tradition, but culture in the general sense as in the seven universal elements of culture that also embrace the system of livelihood, equipment, technology, language, religion and so forth. Actually its a comprehensive and sustainable tourism development. By this, local people are enabled to be widely involved in various activities, not merely as passive spectators.

On the other hand, through this activity visitors have a good opportunity to get acquainted with many aspects of rural life, starting from agricultural occupation, local products, traditional culinary, custom and tradition as well as lifestyle of local people. In agricultural field, for instance, there are areas producing characteristic local variety of rice like at Penebel; snakefruit at Pupuan and Sibetan; strawberry at Bedugul; and tangerine at Bondalem and Tejakula to name a few. Then what is making different from that of other regions across the archipelago? This disparity concerns with the tradition and lifestyle. In Bali, visitors will be able to see that local farmers have traditional organization managing the irrigated and non- irrigated farming named subak. Uniquely, they perform ritual to express their gratitude to God on the prosperity obtained from farming on particular days and specifically on Tumpek Bubuh.

Moreover, this kind of tourism will bring visitors closer to nature and other rural activities beyond farming. Even, they can participate in those activities. For instance, if Bali has rich traditional dances, visitors can join to learn some of them. As a result, visitors do not only visiting Bali to feel the pleasure of touring, watching cultural performance and seeing the enchanting panoramas, but also experiencing in person the local lifestyle. Other than agricultural-related activities, Bali retains a wide variety of unique ones that are worth visiting. There are handicraft making, traditional painting, (seasonal) coffee harvesting, fishing and many more. And if possible, they can stay with the local community.

Visitors participated in agro-tourism are ideally expected to be more active than the average tourists while on trips. In essence, there are some categories of activity in agro-tourism namely the family- oriented activities like sporting and cycling; participatory activities like learning to dance and cook traditional food; nature oriented activities like horse riding, elephant safari, trekking; farming-related activities like seasonal harvesting, exploring local fruits at traditional market and so forth. These activities can complete the existing tourism product. In Bali, this tourism has become an alternative to avoid the market saturation of those very same products.

Agro-tourism does not only enrich the existing tourism products and provide alternative to visitors. To local community, it poses an empowerment that enables to them get involved in the tourist activities. In general, it will make an even distribution of tourist visits to villages and working opportunity. To sum up, this community-based tourism will make available more opportunity to wider community. Hopefully there will be no cases like the closing access to see the beautiful view of terraced rice field as the fields owner gets nothing from his property of attraction. By this development, at least the land owner gets additional benefits from valued asset he has apart from his harvest. By doing so, he would feel the benefit of tourism while remaining cultivating his land. Do you think he will sell his land providing him with such double impacts?

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