Bali’s iconic beaches and typically idyllic waters have transformed into rubbish dumps with tonnes of filth piling higher than deck chairs where Australian tourists once sunned themselves on holiday.
The once-popular Kuta Beach is now a deserted coastline that looks more like a tip than an idyllic tourist destination, strewn with washed up bottles, bags, and plastic.
Between 30 and 60 tonnes of trash is being collected from Bali’s most popular beaches each day, with the problem at its worst from December to March each year, where seasonal winds and heavy rain wash up the rubbish on the beach.
But locals believe the problem is worse than ever this year, as the island’s workers also struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic denying them of the usual flood of tourists.
Shocking photos have emerged of local surfers and beachgoers sunbaking and walking along shorelines strewn with mountains of plastic cups, cans, bottles, discarded footwear and other debris.
The beaches are usually packed with hundreds of international tourists kept away by the coronavirus pandemic.
The monsoon season usually brings in trash but this year authorities say it has become worse with 30 and 60 tonnes of trash being collected from Bali’s best known beaches each day. These pictures were taken over the weekend at Kuta Beach showing a once frequented tourist destination now submerged in piles of rubbish
Rubbish continues to plague the usually-idyllic beach, with locals unable to keep up with the quantity of debris (pictured, the beach on Saturday)
More than 30 tonnes of rubbish was removed on Friday from beaches in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak but the next day the amount doubled to 60 tonnes
Local residents sunbaking on a clean and rubbish free Kuta Beach in September before the monsoon season hit and left it looking like a rubbish tip (pictured on September 4)
The trash continues to grow, despite the desperate efforts by local authorities to clear the mess on a daily basis.
Wayan Puja, from Badung’s environment and sanitation agency, which covers the Kuta, Seminyak and Jimbaran beaches, says the trash is seemingly never-ending.
‘We have been working really hard to clean up the beaches, however the trash keeps coming,’ Wayan said.
‘Every day we deploy our personnel, trucks and loaders.’
He said more than 30 tonnes of rubbish was removed on Friday from beaches in Kuta, Legian and Seminyak before the amount doubled to 60 tonnes on Saturday.
More than a million Australians flocked to Bali each year before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Pictured is Kuta Beach
Thousands visit Bali’s famous Kuta Beach (pictured pristine outside monsoon season) each year
Wayan said while rubbish flooding onto Bali beaches was a regular phenomenon at this time of year, due to weather conditions, it was getting worse.
Dr Gede Hendrawan, the head of the Centre for Remote Sensing and Ocean Scienes at Bali’s Udayana University, said the biggest problem was Indonesia’s ineffective rubbish handling systems.
‘The biggest problem is actually the trash handling hasn’t been effective in Indonesia. Bali has just started to reorganise it, also Java has just started,’ he said.
Indonesia’s ineffective rubbish handling systems has been blamed as Bali’s Governor, Wayan Koster, urges a serious clean-up for beaches (pictured, trash on Kuta Beach)
The cleaning up system does not have adequate equipment and resources to quickly remove rubbish from beaches. Currently, they use trucks and loaders (pictured on Kuta Beach on Saturday)
Locals are disappointed at what their beaches have become – the site of a rubbish tip (pictured) littered with plastic
Kuta Beach (pictured) is rubbish-free for nine months of the year, until the monsoon season hits in December (pictured, the clean beach in September)
Bali’s beaches are usually packed with international tourists all year round. Pictured are tourists on Kuta Beach in March, a month before Indonesia closed its foreign borders
Bali’s Governor, Wayan Koster, urged serious action to clean up the beaches – which are a huge tourist drawcard.
‘The Badung administration should have a trash handling system at Kuta Beach that is complete with adequate equipment and human resources so they can work quickly to clean up the trash washed onto the beach,’ he said.
‘Moreover, in the rainy season when there are tourists visiting, the trash handling systems should be working 24 hours a day. Don’t wait for tomorrow.’
Indonesia is among the worst contributors to plastic pollution, with 200,000 tonnes of plastic washing into the ocean, according to a study published by the journal Nature Communications in 2017.
Siblings Rizkika Arshanty and Rizkella Triara, from Jakarta said they were disappointed to visit Kuta Beach and find it inundated with rubbish.
Thousands of Australian tourists would normally be in Bali over the summer holiday period but the coronavirus pandemic has halted overseas travel.
Sadly, Kuta Beach doesn’t look this clean and pristine all year round with the shoreline inundated with mountains of washed up rubbish during the monsoon season
Former Australian Bachelorette Anna Heinrich at Finns Beach club in Bali. More than a million Australians travel to Indonesia each year and make up more than a quarter of Bali tourists – but this has dropped to zero during the pandemic
Indonesia has recorded 758,000 coronavirus cases and 22,555 deaths as of Sunday.
Indonesia closed its international borders in April, which crippled the Balinese economy – normally almost entirely dependent on foreign tourism.
Businesses reopened to Bali locals in July after a three month hiatus.
Kuta has transformed from a bustling tourist mecca into a deserted ghost town, forcing accommodation operators to rethink their survival strategy and slash prices.
The problem on Kuta Beach is getting worse each days, despite daily efforts from hardworking crews to clear the debris on a frequent basis
Indonesia is keeping its borders closed to all foreign arrivals until at least January 14 in a bid to halt the spread of the new strains of Covid-19 that have emerged in the UK, South Africa and the US which have spread to other countries, including Australia.
Entry to Indonesia is only open to foreign nationals already holding a valid stay permit who must return a negative coronavirus test before they fly and spend 14 days in hotel quarantine when they arrive in Indonesia.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster remains optimistic about the revival of international tourism on the island, despite rising COVID-19 cases in the country.
‘We have agreed to keep on pushing various policies to return the trust of tourists, especially foreign tourists, to visit Bali. [This is] so that the tourism sector can revive,’ Koster told reporters last week.
Pre-COVID, more than a million Australians travelled to Indonesia each year and made up more than a quarter of Bali tourists.
Around 1.23 million Australians visited Bali in 2019 – a rise of 5.24 per cent on 2018 figures.
Around 20,000 Australians visited Bali at any one time before the pandemic before the number of foreign tourists arriving in Indonesia plunged 60 per cent in March as the outbreak spread worldwide.
As a result, more than 73,000 people have been furloughed and another 2,500 workers have lost their jobs in Bali due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia slumped 89.22 percent year-on-year to 164,970 in August 2020.
The Indonesian government predicts $14 billion will be lost from tourism in 2020 and has introduced a $28 billion in fiscal stimulus to fight the downturn.
Kuta Beach is located in the regency of Badung, which normally earns between $19 million and $38 million from January to June.
The regency had only earned $572,000 from January to June this year.
Locals have had Kuta Beach (pictured in August, devoid of all but one tourist) all to themselves since April when the international borders closed, which will remain closed to tourists until at least January 14