The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Can Chaos Theory Lead To Bali Clarity?
October 13, 2006, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Comment

So I spent today talking to a Hindu Priest, a surfer, a historian, a member of the tourism board, a hotelier, a backpacker and an economist.  At the same time. Brilliant.

And whilst we went off on all sorts of tangents [as you would expect] a number of things came out that were of particular interest, including …

1. While Bali still is attracting similar numbers of people as they did ‘pre-bomb’ [even though they now come from different countries] … they now spend approx 50% LESS time here.  [4 days instead of 8]

2. The immigration department [managed by the Indonesian Government] contributes to the problem by only allowing a limited number of countries either ’freedom of entry’ or ‘visa on arrival’ facilities. [I also think there’s abit of an issue that a page in your passport is taken up with their official ‘VISA’ every time you come here … which for someone who travels alot, is a real pain!]

3. As Bali is a Hindu nation, they are very, very humble … meaning that anything they do, must follow these values.

4. Compared to the competitive markets in SE Asia, Bali has a fraction of the marketing funds available to them. 

5.  Bali has dramatically fewer airlines flying into the country than the core competitive markets in SE Asia.

6. Surfers believe Bali is one of the greatest surfing points on earth.

7. Bali has 45,000 registered hotel rooms available.

8. Most Indonesians don’t visit Bali because [i] they feel it is expensive and [ii] the difference in religious culture.

9. Bali and Bali tourism are not mutually exclusive entities …  they are so inherently linked that people treat them as one and the same.

10. People believe in the greater good of Bali, not just the greater good of themselves … so they don’t see tourism as a Gold Rush, they see it as a foundation for the nations long-term future.

So what did all this say to me?

Well, like I mentioned yesterday … there are some short term opportunities and some long term needs.  Without doubt, things like organising corporate conferences, improving visa-on-demand status, putting out some positive PR to places like Australia and Japan, increasing the number of airlines that fly here are all going to help … but I still think they’re more tactical solutions than a true, long-term solution.


However, in today’s meetings, I did get a few ‘clues’ as to what may be the foundation for moving Bali forward and it actually came from the surfer and the Hindu priest.

Basically they felt the spirituality of surfing was very similar to the spirituality inherent in Bali. 

Their view was that both are about interacting with nature … both are about purity and simplicity … both give people a sense of belonging … both have specific rituals attached to them … both are difficult to get to [In the sense that Bali is difficult to actually get to and surfing takes great patience and skill to find/ride great wave] … both ‘cleanse the mind’ of day-to-day troubles/issues … both have a heritage that is passionately maintained, despite changing times … and on and on they went …

And so when I took all this in and looked at the issues raised over the subsequent days, I believe I’ve identified something that is the perfect embodiment of Bali’s psyche [or brand essence] and which can form the foundation for any communication we end up doing …


You see, it doesn’t matter what happens to the people or the place [be it internal or external factors], this is a forgiving culture … one that is inherently warm and caring, optimistic, respectful, humble, peaceful, natural, inclusive and human.  Bali is so much more than just nature [though it believes in natural] … just peace [though it believes in harmony] … just calm [though it believes in grace] … it’s a civilization where inherent goodness shines bright – regardless of who you are or what you do.  Infact, these values are taken very, very seriously indeed … which is why each day they perform offerings of music and dance to ask God to maintain the spirit of calm that keeps this place so special.

In essence, Bali could be described as  ‘God’s greatest work’ … and given many of us live in a fast moving, ever changing, materialistic obsessed World … Bali has the ability to offer the World something truly special, valuable and unique.

Infact, at one point … I thought this could be turned into an interesting comms proposition of “BALI: IT’S HARD TO GET TO THIS PLACE” [based on the fact Bali lets visitors  ‘re-discover themselves’ emotionally and spiritually PLUS the actual island is difficult  to get to] but after about 3 seconds, I realised it wouldn’t work because …

[1] it is not a humble statement and as such, would not resonate with locals.

[2] it’s far too advertisingy.

[3] the whole ‘re-discover yourself’ has been done to death.

,,, however after some more thought, one area that I think could be interesting [and it was thanks to a comment from the surfer dude again] is “SIMPLE, PEACEFUL, NATURAL PLEASURES” … where in essence, Bali celebrates those little [natural] things that make us feel happy, loved, positive, alive and optimistic. 

OK, it’s only a thought … and there’s lots more to do … but I really feel this UNCONDITIONAL GOODNESS has something in it [as do the people I’ve spoken to about it so far] and I am genuinely excited about doing something special for this place – because in a weird way, I’ve sort-of fallen in love with Bali, mainly because I’ve seen more acts of genuine kindness in the last couple of days, than I’ve experienced in a very long time.  It’s sort of restored my faith in mankind.  While Bali’s around, the World still has hope.

Comments gratefully received!

[Oh, and thanks Hari, Sean, Pete, Barry, Jacki, Michael, Philip, Andy, George, Jenny, Petra and Michael for your emails of advice]

10 Comments so far
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Sounds good.
So my forgiveness thoughts yesterday werent too far off the mark then? 🙂

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hahaha, yes, you’re right … you should put it down as a ‘consulting job’ on your CV!

Comment by Rob

Haha! Would be nice, but I dont think I could honestly claim that… Though I did get there without even visiting the place 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I hereby dub you, ‘Planning Yoda’

Comment by Rob

Ah. Idea planning have thought I

Comment by Rob Mortimer

See … you’re a natural!

Comment by Rob

great post. I went to Bali for a couple of weeks in late ’04, and it was absolutely wonderful. it was heartbreaking see both the immediate and long-term effects of the bombs.

‘Unconditional Goodness’ seems to fit quite nicely. it really captures the atmosphere (friendliest people in the world?) and I suppose that’s what makes the problem even more tragic.

The problem with SPNP is that it’s not really ‘ownable’ by Bali, and doesn’t really encapsualte the essence of the place like UG does.

Good luck with it.

Comment by doug

Hi Doug … thanks for the post and of course you’re right – Simple, Peaceful, Natural Pleasures – doesn’t really express something unique to Bali … however I didn’t mean it would be communicated literally … just that they were some of the key characteristics that would have to be represented within any brand idea we come up with.

Comment by Rob

completely agreed – I suppose it’s all that (SPNP) and then some…

Comment by doug

Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological world everything is accessible
on net?

Comment by Angeles

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