– Balinese palaces become tourist attractions

Balinese palaces become tourist attractions

http://www.thejakartapost.com/bali-daily/2013-03-05/balinese-palaces-become-tourist-attractions.html

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Balinese palaces become tourist attractions

by Desy Nurhayati on 2013-03-05

Some palaces in Bali are to be developed into tourist attractions, where visitors can stay, learn about Balinese culture and traditions and enjoy a truly Balinese experience.

The concept of palace tourism was to help promote the old culture and traditions specific to Bali as a unique destination, said Djinaldi Gosana, executive director of the Bali Hotels Association (BHA), who initiated the concept.

“Tourists can learn about local culture and traditions from the royal family’s penglingsir [head of the family]. They can stay for several days, even one or two weeks, to learn many things and join in the activities there,” he told Bali Daily recently.

He explained briefly about the activities that tourists could participate in during their stay in a royal home, including a royal dinner — in which the royal family would wear their traditional attire, while listening to stories and explanations from the royal family. They could also walk around the palace, shop at a nearby traditional market and learn to cook traditional dishes.

Local people living around the palace would also be involved in this tourism, with the hope that it could improve their livelihoods.

“The royal family can invite local artists to perform in front of the foreign guests,” Djinaldi said, giving an example of the local people’s involvement.

He emphasized that this program was not intended to commercialize royalty, but an effort to develop community-based tourism that involved local people and focused on promoting the uniqueness of Bali.

“The royal families should not consider this merely business, but also a way to improve local people’s welfare and to preserve Balinese culture and traditions.”

While looking for more investors to finance the renovation of some of the palaces, he has started to offer this tourism concept to travel agents, so that they could include it in their tour packages.

BHA is helping the royal families to carry out renovations on their respective palaces starting this month, so that the families would be better prepared to welcome guests. Renovations will include repairing garden footpaths, as well as bathrooms and walls.

Djinaldi said the pilot project for the concept had been conducted at Puri Bedulu (Bedulu Palace) in Gianyar. Some other palaces that will open their doors to guests include Puri Jro Kuta, Puri Kanginan, Puri Kerambitan, Puri Penebel and Puri Bongkasa.

Bagus Sudibya, deputy chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies in Bali, said the association welcomed this idea, saying Bali needed to develop authentic tourism activities to attract tourists.

“Tourists always want something authentic, not a duplication,” he said.

In fact, some travel agents have developed packages that are similar to the concept currently being developed by BHA.

Bagus gave an example of cruise passengers in Padangbai, Karangasem, who were invited to dine with the king at Tirtagangga Palace.

“Many tourists have also attended a royal wedding or cremation in other palace, like Peliatan and Mengwi.”

He agreed that the palace tourism could be a concept combining the preservation of culture, tourism and the development of the local economy.

“It’s a good way to create more benefits from tourism for local people, economically, so that they will have a greater willingness to help develop tourism.”

Puri Pemecutan in Denpasar and Puri Ubud in Ubud are two palaces that opened their doors to tourists decades ago.

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