The population of Bali and its surrounding islands are running a very real risk of doing what the Bali bombers and Indonesia's ridiculous visa regulations have so far failed to achieve, and that is putting an end to tourism.
The problem is unsightly litter, trash, garbage--call it what you will--at the water's edge on the beaches and coastline of Bali.
It comprises mostly plastic food and drink packaging materials but can include almost any item from sandals to very unpleasant disposable nappies and sanitary wear.
The more sophisticated shoreline hotels in Bali have their respective beaches cleared of such debris every day but even these efforts fail to pick up the next day's deposits floating in the sea just off the beach, where tourists are expected to swim, dive and surf.
Where there are no clean up efforts the high water mark can be identified by a line of plastic trash intermingled with the more natural and biodegradable items of flotsam and jetsam.
Such eyesores are not confined to Bali and in reality are a pan-Indonesian issue. They reach truly horrific proportions in harbours such as Sunda Kelapa and Makassar which are on the tourist circuit.
Even the more remote surfer beaches such as Laikey on Sumbawa get trashed annually when the local population descends upon them at Lebaran.
Tourists do not like seeing trash anywhere, let alone in places where they have paid good money to take a break. Ask any surfer or diver in Bali--they have particular insights to the problem of trash in the sea and at the seashore.
Apart from it being unsightly, it not unnaturally begs the question: "If this is what can be seen at the water's edge, what is there in the water that cannot be seen?" And that's another story!
The core of the problem originates inland, far from the tourist beaches. Individuals discard their trash wherever the inclination takes them, as they walk or drive down the highways and byways or whenever they gather together in any number for ceremonies, sports events and the like.
The trash accumulates progressively in drains, ditches, sewers and riverbeds until it rains and is carried eventually out to sea to end up being washed up on the beaches and shoreline.
This cycle is repeated all over Indonesia and it seems highly likely that some of what ends up in Bali has its origins in Java, particularly Surabaya.
The inland origins of trash are complemented by commercial cargo ships, fishing boats and ferries, whose crew and passengers blaze their trails through the water with discarded water bottles and plastic bags full of miscellaneous rubbish.
Some ferries have notices encouraging passengers not to throw trash overboard, but to little effect. It can be seen floating in the water way offshore of Bali.
So what's the answer to the problem? A total solution is probably idealistic but a basic three step strategy could make significant improvements.
The authorities in Bali could start on the proposed first and second steps but to be really effective all three steps need to be implemented nationally.
The first step is to educate the population with a "Keep Bali/Indonesia beautiful" type campaign communicated via TV and other media, with the aim of encouraging people to take pride in their environment and dispose of trash properly.
Schools would also provide forums for such educational initiatives and religious establishments could possibly play a part.
The second step is making sure the population can dispose of their trash properly by providing sensible bins that are emptied regularly. It is noticeable that many of the bins that are provided are too small and/or do not have lids to keep insects out and prevent trash being blown about--ferries in particular are guilty of this.
The third step is to pass legislation to induce and/or force manufacturers of food and drink packaging in particular to move to biodegradable plastic as countries such as Germany have done.
This would at least ensure that plastic detritus breaks down and disappears rather than lasting as an eyesore for tens of years or more.
As many readers of this article will fear, there is little to no chance of any of these steps being implemented. National government has other priorities.
A lack of resources will probably preclude the first two steps of the proposed strategy and the vested short term interests of the food and drink packaging industry will ensure that no effective steps are taken to implement the introduction of biodegradable plastic.
So in the meantime, all the tourist industry of Bali can do is hope.
Hope there are no more bomb outrages.
Hope that tourist visas are extended back to three months.
And hope that someone, somewhere, will do something about the problem of trash before it becomes too late.
By Peter A Bailey The Jakarta Post/ANN