The Natives & History
A few years ago, sailors from Bugis, Mandar and Makassar (Sulawesi) occupied Gili Air and establish coconuts plantation and expand the fishing activities. As visitors started to visit Lombok and some came to the Gilis on day trips and then began to stay for longer periods in local homes. The islands have become enormously popular. Their popularity may be a problem, as numbers sometime exceed the available rooms and put pressure on the island environment, especially the supply of fresh water and the capacity of septic system to cope with waste and there is always pressure to build more and better facilities.
Big business interests are trying to cash in on the popularity of the Gilis and the local government is keen to promote up market tourist development. Gili Air and Gili Meno retained much of their un-spoilt quality, but Gili Trawangan has become more touristy and pricy.
The islanders are majority Muslims and visitors should respect their sensibilities. In particular, topless or nude sunbathing is offensive to them, even though they won't say so directly. Away from Beach, it is polite for women to cover their shoulders and thighs. Many visitors are appallingly insensitive to local standards and so many of them walk around in skimpy clothing that it's easy to get impression that the local people don't mind anymore.
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