The New Age Tourism Brand-Wagon in Ubud, Bali: Eat Pay Love!

Dr. Claudia Bell
2019 South Asian Research Journal of Arts Language and Literature  
Bali was well recognized as an appealing holiday destination before Elizabeth Gilbert"s 2006 book Eat Pray Love became an international best seller. That book, and the subsequent film, confirmed Bali and the inland town of Ubud in particular, as a significant setting for spiritual tourism, particularly for affluent Western women. Spiritual retreats and a wide range of New Age activities are now a substantial market niche in Bali. Private entrepreneurs outside of Bali sell their New Age products
more » ... ir New Age products over the www. Ubud is a veritable hypermarket of free-enterprise New Age services and merchandise. Bali Tourism"s marketing pages on www do not promote Eat Pray Love tours or activities. There is no need, or advantage, for any official organization to advertise those attractions. For prospective Eat Love Pray visitors, de facto destination marketing via www sites, bloggers and Facebook posts are trustworthy. They supersede any local official destination marketing campaigns for this particular category of tourist. As the consumption of New Age products takes place over the web, the result is considerable economic leakage. Bali itself is intrinsic to the tourist product but has limited profits from the expenditure by these tourists. The services and products offered are not regulated in any way, but nor are they illicit. The discussion draws from interviews and participation observation on four fieldtrips, between 2015 and 2018. "A destination is both a geographical place and a metaphyscal space determined by a network of meanings and values that are attached to it [4] ." Eat, Pray, Love has spurred a vigorous industry in Ubud for westerners seeking spiritual solace; quasi-spiritual practices in Ubud are wildly fashionable. The spiritual journey is also a physical one, with both Ubud and enlightenment / peace / harmony the destinations. It is maintained that Ubud has experienced an increase in tourism numbers by 400% since the book and film. Tourists themselves play a key role in promoting this town.
doi:10.36346/sarjall.2019.v01i03.003 fatcat:hbcqsrlr5jfntls63s4slpooby