Bali’s latest ban? Look to the mountains

Tourists will be banned from Bali's Mount Agung under a further crackdown on their behaviour on the holiday resort island.

Tourists will be banned from Bali's Mount Agung under a further crackdown on their behaviour on the holiday resort island. Photo: Getty

Bali’s crackdown on badly behaved tourists has stepped up another gear, with the local governor largely outlawing access to the holiday island’s many mountains.

The ban by governor Wayan Koster follows reports that tourists have been shooting porn and dancing naked on mountains considered sacred by Bali’s largely Hindu population.

It outlaws climbing and hiking on 22 of the Indonesian resort island’s 23 peaks.

“These mountains are sacred and revered. If their sanctity is damaged, it is the same as degrading the sacredness of Bali,” Mr Koster said.

“This ban is in effect forever and is not only for foreign tourists but also domestic tourists and local residents… [with the exception of] religious ceremonies or the handling of natural disasters,” he said.

The new ban was announced on May 31. It will be enshrined in a regional law, the details of which were published last weekend.

“The mountains hold a sacred essence, making them revered grounds. Hence, we are prohibiting mountain climbing activities,” the draft rule said, as reported by local media.

The mountain ban follows Mr Koster signing off on a list of 12 ‘dos’ and eight ‘dont’s’ for international tourists. It was to start being distributed to foreign visitors arriving in Bali from June.

It is the latest in a long list of crackdowns on unruly tourist behaviour in Bali.

In March, a campaign by Bali’s Tourist Board announced billboards at popular tourist spots would promote behavioural guidelines.

“The point is that tourists respect Balinese cultural customs by dressing well and neatly, following in an orderly manner, carrying out traffic activities and not doing things that are outside the provisions,” Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, the tourism board’s chairman, told The Bali Sun.

“Guests are king, but don’t abuse.”

Bali bans tourists from motorbikes

Source: The New Daily

The same month, a ban on foreigners renting motorbikes and scooters in Bali was proposed after a spike in accidents alarmed local authorities.

However, the mountain ban has drawn some criticism. Bali Regional Council deputy chairman Tjok Gde Asmara Putra Sukawati said travellers should instead be compelled to hire local guides for safety and to avoid causing offence.

“If there’s a mistake on the mountain, then we should coach the guides,” he said, pointing out that many local guides depended on tourists for their livelihoods.

Mount Agung guide Gede Darmayasa told local media he hoped Mr Koster would find new jobs for him and other guides if the law change went ahead.

“We also have family and our livelihood is there. So we hope there is a solution to make a living everyday,” he said.

Mount Agung is Bali’s highest peak and is considered a sacred religious site. Earlier this year, a Russian tourist was deported after posing semi-nude on the mountain’s peak, and sharing the snap on social media.

Mr Koster has not outlined the likely punishments for those who breach the new mountain rules. But deportation from the island is not uncommon for foreigners.

According to a Nine report earlier this year, Bali deported 93 foreigners – including six Australians – between January 1 and April 17. Most had violated visas or permits, or broken other laws.

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