The resort island of Bali garnered yet another international accolade this year when it was named the Best Spa Tourism Destination in the World 2009 by Berlin-based fitness magazine Senses.

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik presented the award Tuesday to Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika in Denpasar. Earlier in March, the ministry’s director general of marketing, Sapta Nirwandar, received the award on behalf of the Balinese people from the magazine during the annual International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin.

“I want to congratulate *the Bali administration and people* for this award. It proves that Bali is still recognized *as a top tourism destination* by the world,” Jero said.

The ministry’s director for overseas promotion, Gede Pitana, said the award was a prestigious one since the magazine was the second largest in Berlin with a readership of 60,000. The nomination and selection process, he added, was carried out by a team of 200 experts on spa and tourism.

“The award is obvious evidence that Bali still has a competitive edge against other top world destinations, such as the Maldives and Thailand,” he said.

Governor Pastika stated the accolade would be yet another prize in the island’s trophy cabinet. Previously, the island received various awards from several international tourism publications, including being named Best Destination in the World by Travel & Leisure magazine.

“The award is the result of the excellent services provided by the island’s spa operators,” he said.

But Pastika warned that the Balinese should not be carried away by a sense of overconfidence because of the award. He pointed out the island’s tourism was still embroiled in many problems, such as mounting piles of garbage, floods, traffic jams, unlicensed travel guides, illegal villas, long queues caused by the visa-on-arrival policy, and illegal retribution targeting foreign visitors. “There are a lot of problems that we must cope with to improve and enhance our tourism industry. Defending an award is a lot harder than getting it in the first place,” he said.

Indonesia Spas Association (ASPI) chairwoman Mooryati Soedibyo said she was proud of Bali for its achievement.

“It means that spas have become one of the appealing tourism attractions. Hopefully, spas will attract more visitors, foreign and domestic, to Bali,” she said.

There are a total of 600 spas operating across the country, a large number of which are based in Bali.

Image: Taman Sari Spa Bali