Is Bali’s Charm At Risk? Overtourism Sparks Worries Among Digital Nomads

Is Bali's Charm At Risk? Overtourism Sparks Worries Among Digital Nomads

With its breathtaking beaches, rice terraces, yoga retreats, and waterfalls, Bali is one of the most visited destinations in Asia. But is the Bali vibe changing? Is it still a good option for digital nomads?

The harsh truth is that the upsurge in tourism has given rise to issues of overcrowding and environmental concerns stemming from our collective wanderlust. This surge has translated into an expansion of hotels, increased waste, and diminished resources for local residents. While we savor our refreshing drinks, it’s easy to overlook the fact that certain areas of Bali are grappling with a shortage of water.

Bali is breathtakingly beautiful. However, the increase in tourism has led to an alarming increase in pollution, especially plastic waste. We’re talking about an island where the vast amounts of garbage washing up on its usually gorgeous beaches have led to a “garbage emergency” being declared.

Bali is steeped in spirituality, tradition, and a rich history. It’s essential to pay reverence to the deeply rooted customs of Balinese culture, known for their multifaceted and intricate nature. Unfortunately, on many occasions, tourists treat temples as if they were mere backdrops for fashion photos, disregarding appropriate attire and bypassing sacred areas in pursuit of picturesque snapshots.

Bali has been one of the top travel destinations for digital nomads worldwide for almost ten years.

Thanks to reliable WiFi, budget-friendly lodging, and adaptable visa choices, the resort island has effectively catered to a substantial number of digital nomads.

Particularly in the post-pandemic era, when remote work became the standard, an even larger number of individuals managed to create an online work model that granted them the freedom to operate from any corner of the globe.

Bali has witnessed a significant surge in tourism development, which has led to heightened tensions on the island due to a notable rise in the misbehavior of foreign visitors.

A quick look at the Instagram stories shared by Bali community accounts is sufficient to reveal that there is a difference of opinion regarding whether Bali currently serves as a digital nomad paradise or poses challenges for them.

Certain individuals hold the viewpoint that digital nomads residing in the province should refrain from expressing grievances or dissatisfaction about issues such as traffic congestion, escalating accommodation costs, ongoing construction, or even incidents like trash fires.

Originally from U.S., Christa Romano shared her opinion on living in Bali as a Digital Nomad: “I’ve been living in Canggu, Bali for the past four years and if I’m honest, this town specifically is not quite AS magical as it was before the pandemic. Most of the rice fields now have been covered with concrete and the beaches are not necessarily relaxing anymore with the number of people here now.That being said, I still love living in Canggu, and will continue living here probably for many years, even if it keeps getting more crowded. There are very few places in the world where you can access this high quality level of restaurants, nightlife and fitness centers while also having access to the beach, and a rich local culture.”

“I love how International and entrepreneurial it is here as well! I mean yeah, I wish I didn’t have to make reservations for dinner and could just waltz right into any restaurant like the good old days, but it’s a small price to pay for all the great things that come with living here. Again I’m talking about Canggu. Ubud definitely is crowded as well, but so is Positano in the summertime and that’s not stopping anybody from going there, you know? Let’s not forget that Bali is a big Island— maybe the over tourism in the hotspots will lead to some of the less developed areas to get a little bit of a tourism boost that might help their economy.” she added.

Originally from Cape Town, Dan Wisely told reporters from The West Australian how he felt on his first visit to Bali. 

“I remember coming here the first time and feeling super inspired. All my friends here were doing something really cool with their lives,” he shared. 

However, he acknowledged the isolation that living on an island can bring and the challenge of connecting with the right people from expat and digital nomad communities.

However, a new generation of digital nomads will not be long in coming as Bali continues to expand access to flights and offer additional visa alternatives for high-earning investors and remote workers.