When Fodor’s included Bali on its list of 13 destinations to think twice about before visiting in 2020, officials on the Indonesian resort island weren’t best pleased. According to the travel guide publisher, overtourism is to blame for the destination’s downsides, which include a reportedly increasing number of unruly Aussies (and others), Chinese zero-dollar tour groups that give little back to the local economy and a serious water shortage exacerbated by unchecked development. In response, Bali’s vice governor, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, said in a statement: “We [ …] invite tourists, while they are on vacation, to upload photos or videos on social media [showing] Bali in a positive light.” Clean beaches, well-organised hotel gardens and friendly Balinese were some of the scenes he suggested sharing, presumably to counter those of plastic-strewn sands and bar brawls that have gone viral in recent months. But there were signs Bali’s appeal, once infallible, was waning, even before the travel media turned on the island (although, bucking the trend, on December 12, Vogue Living Australia published a list of “13 beautiful new hotels in Bali worth packing your bags for.”) This month, The Australian reported that tourism on the Island of the Gods had slumped for the first time in more than a decade, “with the overcrowded Indonesian island recording close to zero growth this year on the back of a dramatic downturn in Chinese tourism numbers”. Citing figures from Bali Tourism Board, the broadsheet stated that arrivals for the first 10 months of 2019 grew by less than 1 per cent, compared with almost 17 per cent in 2017, led by a 15.43 per cent year-on-year drop in Chinese visitors, largely the result of local authorities cracking down on zero-dollar tours and the businesses associated with them. However, Australians – once considered Bali’s bread and butter – are also staying away, sliding to third place in terms of traveller numbers, behind Chinese and “Europeans”, a somewhat wide-ranging source market, according to The Australian . On December 4, The Jakarta Post also reported on the decline in arrivals from China, noting an Indonesia-wide dip of 5.28 per cent, equating to 1.77 million Chinese arrivals during the first 10 months of the year, significantly short of its ambitious goal of 10 million tourists from the world’s second-largest economy by the end of 2019. Reasons for the downturn are manifold. Following this year’s Golden Week holiday in China, which ran from October 1 to 7, Reuters reports, travellers from the Middle Kingdom made fewer trips and spent less abroad because of “a weaker yuan, political turmoil in Hong Kong and global tensions dampening their enthusiasm to travel too far from home,” all of which remains applicable as we approach the new year. The Australian puts the reluctance of Antipodean visitors down to “a heightened focus on [Bali’s] marine and beach pollution problems, horrific traffic snarls, and the relentless numbers of drunk, aggressive Australian tourists who end up in international headlines.” Doesn’t sound particularly appealing, does it? And then there’s the island’s water scarcity – perhaps its greatest existential threat. For centuries, the Balinese have managed their water through a sophisticated irrigation system, known as subak , that diverts flow from channels to terraced rice paddies and back again. The presence of an annual 16 million international and domestic tourists has placed immense pressure on the limited resource, particularly as hotels overuse groundwater, affecting soil salinity and threatening farming. Add to that the drought that is affecting the entirety of Indonesia and things do not look promising. “Bali’s freshwater scarcity problem is only expected to get worse unless there’s a paradigm shift in the mass tourism model and they embrace quality sustainable tourism,” Stroma Cole, a senior lecturer in tourism geography at the University of the West of England, in Britain, and who researches water inequality, told Al Jazeera recently. With goals such 10 million Chinese tourists, a proposed second airport and a slew of major new hotel openings, an alternative to the mass tourism model seems unlikely. But if the island is unable or unwilling to address the issue, Bali runs the risk of turning off those it wants to attract. Japan’s Kowloon Walled City replica has closed The Kowloon Walled City may have been demolished in 1994, but the lawless Hong Kong high-rise community, the stuff of legend, has lived on in films, literature and, until recently, a Japanese gamers’ arcade. With an interior designed by art director Taishiro Hoshino, Warehouse Kawasaki – in Kawasaki, part of Greater Tokyo – embraced Kowloon Walled City’s aesthetic quirks, dripping sewage and all, and was popular with arcade’s gamers and those interested in the walled city. According to fashion and street culture outlet Hypebeast, the arcade shuttered on November 17, although it is not clear why. Tokyoites wanting to live out their Hong Kong-noir fantasies will have to look elsewhere to scratch that itch. Three South Korean budget airlines fined for violating safety rules Three of South Korea’s budget airlines have been slapped with fines for violating safety regulations, Yonhap News Agency reported recently. Air Seoul received a US$176,000 penalty after members of its cabin crew were accused of being intoxicated during a flight on July 29, while Jeju Air was fined US$500,000 for “multiple offences”, including “misuse of pilot equipment” and landing an aircraft without permission from ground control. The third transgressor, T’way Air, was penalised for accessing a runway without an air traffic control officer’s permission. Looks like Hong Kong Airlines isn’t the only carrier with concerns.