Although a prosperous agricultural region, Tabanan has always cast an envious eye on Kuta and Ubud and since the mid-80s has sought to increase its earnings from tourism. Toward this end, in 1992 the district head made a secret deal with giant, Jakarta-based business conglomerate BAKRI to build a mammoth hotelpolis overlooking the world-famous seaside temple of Tanah Lot.
The temple is considered one of the six most important religious sites in all of Bali because of its charisma and unreal location on a small island offshore. The 121 -hectare estate will eventually contain luxury villas, a five-star hotel, resort condominiums, 18-hole golf course, sports center, and private beachfront.
Permits were issued and by 1993 the project started without the environmental impact report (AMDAL) required by law. When news of the private deal surfaced, there was a major uproar. Even the usually circumspect Bali Post diligently published excerpts from the public debates stirred by the project before its supporters were intimidated and backed off.
The overwhelming majority of Balinese favored canceling the project, though it enjoyed the support of Bali's Jakarta-appointed governor, Ida Bagus Oka.
In a biting editorial, the governor paternalistically chastised the critics and urged everyone to accept the inevitable march of modernization. This resulted in an even larger and more vociferous demonstration in which participants demanded his resignation. But ground was broken in March of 1994 and the resort was opened in August of 1995. You can see advertisements regularly appearing in Asian in-flight magazines. Tourism has arrived in Tabanan Regency.
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