No more scooters in Kuta – Bali’s latest tourist crackdown

Scooter ban proposed for Bali tourists

Foreign tourists face being banned from renting motorbikes and scooters in Bali, after a spate of accidents that has alarmed local authorities.

Under the radical plan revealed this week, foreigners on the Indonesian holiday island would have to rent private cars from travel agents, rather than the ever-popular scooters and motorbikes.

A wider, regional ban is also in the works. It was unveiled by Bali’s governor Wayan Koster on Monday.

“You [should] not roam about the island using motorbikes, without wearing shirts or clothes, no helmet, and even without a licence,” Mr Koster said.

“If you are a tourist, then act like a tourist.”

The proposed ban will mean tourists caught breaking the rules will be slapped with hefty fines – and may even be booted from Indonesia altogether.

Drivers caught on a motorbike without a helmet will be fined about $24.50, while those driving without a licence will face a $98 penalty.

Mr Koster has asked for the Indonesian legal ministry’s support in revoking the visas of tourists caught breaking the rules.

The regional ban will reportedly come into effect sometime this year. But it has already sparked division, as the tourist island struggles to bounce back from COVID.

“Bali successfully trying to nuke its own tourist industry. First the new no sex outside marriage law (for foreigners too). Now you can’t even rent scooters/motorbikes anymore. What is happening?” wrote one Twitter user.

“So Bali wants to ban foreigners renting scooters & hire cars because they don’t have an Indonesian licence. The overwhelming majority of Balinese and Indonesians I’ve met in seven years of living here don’t have a licence and have never taken one driving lesson [in] their entire lives,” wrote another.

The proposed scooter ban comes after more than 150 foreigners were caught violating traffic laws in just a month. Videos of rule-breaking tourists have also circulated online – including one clip that shows a male tourist crashing his bike into a car and another that showed an Australian visitor shouting at police after being stopped for riding without a helmet.

It also follows the launch last week by Bali’s Tourist Board of a public campaign to crack down on misbehaving holidaymakers.

Foreigners are being encouraged to “respect Balinese cultural customs”, and will be provided behavioural guidelines using billboards installed at popular tourist spots.

It also follows controversial law changes passed in Indonesia late in 2022, banning sex outside of marriage. Foreigners are included in the so-called “bonk ban”.

The proposal also has some locals worried. Bali Motorbike Rental Association chair Dedek Warjana said it would only create new problems.

He told CNN Indonesia that the policy would kill local businesses that relied on tourists – with tourism accounting for approximately 80 per cent of Bali’s economy.

He also said replacing motorbikes with cars would likely lead to more congestion on the already traffic-choked island roads.

Australians are likely to be among the hardest hit by the change, with the island paradise remaining one of this country’s most popular destinations.

This coming Easter, Bali will account for almost 15 per cent of all international bookings for April, according to Webjet.

Bali motorbike

Motorbike is a popular mode of transport for both Bali locals and tourists. Photo: Getty

Unpopular move

Motorbikes and scooters are a popular mode of transport in Bali for tourists and locals, as the island has no organised public transport.

On motorbike, tourists are able to weave through traffic, scoot down laneways and go against one-way traffic – with many one-direction roads scattered around the island.

However, with the crackdown, authorities hope to minimise the hundreds of road accidents on Bali roads each year.

According to The Bali Sun, 405 people died in 2020 from motor vehicle accidents.

In Denpasar, the island’s capital, about 80 per cent of road accidents involve motorbikes.

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