Going a few thousand miles and sipping fresh fruit juices in an exotic setting and on a hot, humid afternoon is no longer the preserve of just a few elites. The trip is democratized, it allows a greater openness to the world, to meet the other, change his habits, discover new places, admire the diverse nature around the world. The unparalleled pleasure of facing beautiful landscapes unfortunately and often has a negative impact on the environment. Several initiatives are being implemented at various scales: ecotourism, outdoors, river tourism, bicycle tourism, sustainable tourism.

We wanted to answer the following question: How to understand our impact and help reduce it?

In this case study, we will demonstrate how to quantify its impact in order to implement the necessary measures at the scale of a tourist region : Bali, an Indonesian island famous for its wooded volcanic mountains, rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs.

Scheme explaining our work at Murmuration, ©Murmuration

Water consumption … multiplied by 5!

Speaking at German trade show ITB in Berlin Dr. Stroma Cole, director of Equality in Tourism highlighted that it is the sustainable management of water that will be the major vector of driving tourism in the coming years. She also mentioned that Bali will be facing a critical point at 2020 concerning the water supply and demand. This conclusion is based on the findings of several monitoring organisations, for example the Bali Hotel Association (BHA) and Howarth HTL where they report that  the assumed per capita daily use of fresh water is of 183 liters, whereas for a 2 stars hotel the consumption is of 1000 liters. Knowing that lots of hotels are 2+ stars in Bali, the water consumption ratio is likely to be more than 1 to 5. For statistics concerning the number of hotels and their ratings please refer to this document.

We started to look for the available open and free data to see if this makes any sense at all.

Trying to locate the pressure

The first dataset We looked for was statistics on the number of travellers flying to Bali to see how these fluctuated over the past decade. I found an open dataset (here) coming from the Indonesian government that showed a continuous increase in the number of tourists climbing from 2 millions to approximately 11 million visiting tourists in 2014. Moreover the data showed the number of tourists who checked-in the different  attraction over the beautiful island.

The most visited region of Bali in 2014 was the south west region of Tabanan that accounts for about 40% of all tourists.

Map of Most visited regions in Bali, 2014, ©Murmuration
From the study of the historical data, we can say that this region of Tabanan has been constantly the main engine of tourism in Bali. This region has been growing at a CAGR of 24% over the past 12 years. To the contrary the region of Jembrana at the west has been losing momentum over the same period with a decrease in the overall number of tourists.

The following map shows the relative weight of each region in the constant growth of tourists.

Map of the regions of Bali Island, and its tourist attraction, Bali, 2014, ©Murmuration

As you can see, the region that have seen a significant increase in the number of tourists is the region situated at the south and center of the island. The sandy beaches of Kuta, the temple of Tanah Lot are major attractions in Bali. One may think that given the small size of the island, tourists have the choice of staying in the north or the center for example and visit these areas on day tours. This would mean that the increase of residential areas in these regions can be reasonable to avoid putting major stress on the infrastructures through the creation of hotels for example. Trying to identify patterns of growth of residential areas is something that earth observation data by satellites does great thanks to the global coverage and the diversity of sensors.


Next step : Earth observation data to the rescue