Bali’s crackdown on unruly foreigners won’t hurt tourism, experts say

Bali has been dealing with misbehaving visitors for quite some time.

The Indonesian island, known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has now taken a stand to preserve its unique identity and protect its sacred sites.

But while reports emerge of authorities cracking down on tourists doing the wrong thing, an expert told The New Daily that transgressors represent the minority of travellers and any additional laws or regulations were unlikely to affect tourism.

Gordon Tanner, director of sales and marketing at Bali Tours, said westerners should familiarise themselves with Bali’s culture and local customs before embarking on a holiday.

“Before travelling to Bali, it’s essential to read up on the destination, culture and spiritual aspects, especially regarding temples,” he told TND.

He advised travellers to consult Smartraveller for more information and talk to their travel agents about current requirements.

Although Balinese authorities are more lenient towards transgressions, mainland Indonesia has stricter rules.

Intrepid Travel Indonesia general manager Ravindra Singh Shekhawat told TND it was important for travellers to play by the rules while in Bali.

“Bali is a land of immense cultural value and traditions that visitors must understand and respect,” Mr Shekhawat said.

He said that “police have responded to this unruly behaviour by increasing their routine checks on the ground, such as driver licence checks, and drink and driving checks.”

Mr Shekhawat remains optimistic: “I don’t think this crackdown on tourists will have much effect on Bali’s tourism industry as the majority of the visitors are well behaved. It’s only a very small percentage of visitors who are behaving unruly and disrespecting the local culture, traditions and laws.”

Tourists targeted

As TND reported in March, Bali has launched a campaign to educate tourists on appropriate behaviour while visiting the island.

This includes respecting local customs, dressing modestly at religious sites, and refraining from littering or damaging the environment. reports that in the first quarter of the year, 620 foreigners were deported from Indonesia for reasons such as misuse of visas and residence permits, overstaying, public disorder, misbehaviour and non-compliance with Indonesian regulations.

One high-profile case involved a Russian woman arrested in Bali over a nude photo taken at a sacred tree and shared on Instagram two years prior.

Videos of tourists arguing with Bali police over regulations have been circulating on social media.

It has been reported that there are discussions about implementing a tourist tax, and imposing bans on certain activities.

Bali’s governor has proposed prohibiting tourists from using motorbikes, and requested that Russian and Ukrainian visitors would not be granted visas on arrival in Indonesia.

Tourism experts have singled out Russian tourists as a source of problems on the island.

It’s believed that Russia’s war in Ukraine has driven many Russians to seek refuge in Bali, where their conduct has caused friction with the local community.

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