26 August 2013

Bali - Budakeling, eco-tourism village

Budakeling, one of the villages designed with a community-based tourism concept, is ready to welcome more guests after completing the renovation of some houses. A total of 21 rooms in tourist-standard home-stays were now available.

Open for tourists since 2010, the village, located in Karangasem regency, has seen a growing number of European visitors, mostly from France and Switzerland. There are also some tourists from Japan and Korea. In the first year, it welcomed 16 people. This rose to 36 people in 2011 and 37 people last year. As of mid this year, 19 tourists had made reservations to stay in the village.

Tourists are usually interested in finding out about the daily life of the local people and interacting with them. Almost every day, groups of tourists are brought by hotels or travel agents to visit the village for a short trip. The tourists usually buy silver and gold handicrafts made by local residents.

Budakeling village is situated on a hill between Tirtagangga water palace and Bebandem in Karangasem regency. Overlooking the east coast of Bali, with Mount Agung in the background, it is well known among the Balinese for its high priests. For tourists, it is a village of farmers, artists and craftsmen – from dancers and painters, to stone sculptors and engravers of Sanskrit lontar manuscripts.

The village offers an interesting holiday package. As guests arrive in the village, they are welcomed with traditional snacks and beverages. The next morning, at around 6 a.m., guests are offered a visit to the traditional market to buy meat and vegetables for their lunch and dinner that they will then cook together with the locals. After going to the market, guests return to the homestay to have breakfast with the owner. They spend the entire day around the village enjoying the panoramic views and cool weather, while watching villagers going about their activities in the rice fields, schools, village administration office and in craft workshops.

Budakeling is one of seven villages developed under the concept of community-based tourism, in which tourism is managed by the villagers. The other six villages are Penglipuran, Bedulu, Jasri, Blimbingsari, Pancasari and Pinge.

By visiting the villages, travelers get the rare opportunity of first-hand experience with local communities. They spend quality time in areas rich in culture and biodiversity, and immerse themselves in the day-to-day lives of local, indigenous villagers. Under this scheme, villagers earn income as accommodation managers, entrepreneurs, tour guides or in other related occupations. In addition, a portion of the generated revenue is set aside for projects benefiting the community as a whole.

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