“Sapta Pesona”

(Seven Enchantments) of Bali
Where Are Your Whereabouts?

By Stefan Fenanlampir*)

In the 1980s the government, the Ministry of Tourism, Post and Telecommunication were very vigorous to campaign and promote the “Visit Indonesia” with its Sapta Pesona (seven enchantments) covering the seven charms of Indonesia, namely security, order, sanitation, coolness, beauty, friendliness and memories.

In short, every single foreign and domestic tourist was guaranteed to enjoy the charm of the seven enchantments. Even up to now, the Seven Enchantments are still a major icon of the Indonesian tourism promotion, particularly Bali tourism, becoming a major tourist destination in Indonesia. The question now is, do these seven enchantments still exist between the slogan and fact or just a mere slogan? Let us examine these seven enchantments one by one.

Security
It is true that in the the 1980s to 1990s the security was one of the most admired charms by tourists in Bali. Parking a vehicle or motorcycle outside without being locked was safe. Leaving home unlocked was safe, too. Driving on the road was safe from accidents. Putting valuables in hotel room was safe from theft. Shopping was also safe from the acts of fraud.

Criminal actions were very rare. There was no act of terrorism, the safety factor becoming one of the basic human needs was assured. But, in keeping with the rapid growth of tourism development the charm of safety (and security) was very vulnerable and fragile.

Theft, rape, murder, fraud and accident have now been a common place. What’s wrong here? Where is the role of government and society? Where is the awareness of all elements of society? Let us consider for the action of changes and improvement in years to come.

Order
Order is an enchantment that is very far from expectation. This charm can no longer be proud of. Order of traffic on the road, order of parking vehicle, order of beach merchants, order of traders in the market and order of taking out the trash. To sum up, the public awareness is very low. Each of them is selfish, no longer comply with the rules and regulations. What is wrong with our society?

During a 12-day visit to Japan , we were very impressed with the enchantment of the order. During the visit we never saw any police on duty on the street or at traffic light. However, the traffic was very orderly. When we paid a visit to a tourist attraction, there was no trash though trash bin was not provided. Orderly life is the key. It goes up against the conditions in our country. Orderly life in our society is far from expectation because the awareness to obey the rules is very low.

Here, people are more afraid of police and the authorities rather than complying the rules. This is what distinguishes us from Japan. The question, how long do we keep losing consciousness to live orderly? Think about it!

Sanitation
Sanitation is no longer a mainstay. Trash is strewn everywhere. Public awareness of sanitaion is very low. Along the bypass road, posing the main road in Bali, we can see rubish everywhere, on street corners and in rubbish bins that have been already filled with piles of garbage until spilling out. They are not taken care of.

Similar sight can be seen on the river, ditch and even on the beach. Sanitation of tourist attractions, public restrooms in tourist attractions, souvenir markets and so forth are the same. When we chatted with one of our colleagues in Japan at the time, we admired the extraordinary sanitation in the country. He just commented there were three key factors to the success of sanitation in Japan, namely education, public awareness and management system and rubbish management.

Since early age in elementary school, children’s personalities are formed to live orderly and cleanly and not to litter, so that when they grew adult and lived their social life, their awareness of living cleanly had been embedded in their conscience. Therefore, they would not be littering.

The Government has an obligation to create management system and waste management which was effective. It realized that sanitaiton was the base of health. When will our society be aware of this?

Coolness
Enchantment of coolness is closely associated with natural environment and the surroundings. Greenish-drenched environment with lush tropical trees, beautiful and clean urban garden with a wide range of flowers and ornamental plants as well as tourist objects are arranged neatly. The rice fields and mountains are beautiful and charming. Verdant beautiful hills and sustainable green belt are well maintained, while adequate spatial order allows humans to socialize one another with great intimacy. Do these conditions still exist in Bali? Think of it!

Beauty
Undeniably, the beauty of the Island of the Gods, Bali, is a magnet for foreign and domestic tourists. Strong integration between the beauty of nature, including mountains, beaches, rivers, lakes, marine parks, culture as well as the arts and hospitality of Balinese people is the strength of Bali tourism.

In the long run, the beauty of Bali’s charm is damaged because the public awareness is very low. Urban planning looks chaotic, the buildings no longer reflect Balinese architecture, shabby food stalls stand along the road and chaotic traffic aggravate the beauty of the Island of Bali. If so, does the enchanting beauty remain reliable? Think about it.

Hospitality
For this charm, we need to appreciate, thecharm of hospitality is still the mainstay of Bali tourism in particular and Indonesia in general. Tourists admire the friendliness of the Balinese. Keep it!

Memory
Enchantment of memory heavily relies on the six mentioned charms. If tourists during their visit experience positive things in terms of security, order, sanitation, coolness, beauty, and friendliness, then they will bring sweet memories to their home country.

Otherwise, they will bring home bitter memories if they did not experience these six charms. It needs keeping in mind, according to a survey, tourists who had fond memories and were satisfied with their holiday would tell it to at most six people. But, those who did not bring home fond memories would tell at least thirteen people. This means, negative things will be more easily and quickly spread to many people but positive things are only kept to themselves and spread only to a few people.

The question: can the Seven Enchantments be relied in Bali? Frankly speaking, they have been ‘already at a crossroads.’ But we can still fix them if government and all components of Balinese community want to fix them. It is never too late. Let’s struggle for making Bali a major tourist destination in Indonesia with the fascinating Seven Enchantments, both in the past, present, and in the future. Hopefully!

*) Stefan Fenanlampir, an observer of Balinese culture and member of the Association of Tri Hita Karana Perpetrators and Observers.