Bali’s Governor Koster has made a series of announcements that will have huge impacts on tourists visiting Bali in a variety of ways.
On Sunday, 28th May, Governor Koster announced a formal ban on foreigners using cryptocurrency in Bali, as well as new changes to the way in which tourists can hire vehicles and report complaints.
While cryptocurrency is booming and increasingly widely accepted, especially in digital nomad hubs and emerging economies like Costa Rica, officials in Bali have made it clear that using digital currencies for payments on the island is illegal.
During a press conference on Sunday evening, Governor Koster announced a crackdown on foreigners using cryptocurrency for payments on the island.
This is an all-encompassing ban, meaning tourists and foreign investors cannot use cryptocurrency as a means of payment at tourism attractions, hotels, restaurants, shops, or for any kind of goods or services.
Governor Koster was clear when he announced that “foreign tourists who behave inappropriately, do activities that are not allowed in their visa permit, use crypto as a means of payment, and violate other provisions will be dealt with firmly.”
It’s not just a cryptocurrency that Governor Koster wants to see handled with more firm action, but also foreigners who are conducting business without the correct permits, visas, and business licenses.
The issues, as Governor Koster presented them, have become synonymous with one another in many cases.
Governor Koster conveyed to the press that “strict actions range from deportation, administrative sanctions, criminal penalties, closure of business premises, and other tough sanctions for anyone caught violating the financial and immigration laws of Indonesia”.
He added, “Violations of the obligation to use Rupiah will be subject to administrative sanctions in the form of a written warning, the obligation to pay fines, and a ban on participating in payment traffic.”
The press conference was also attended by a number of key officials from Bali, including the Chief Inspector of Bali Police, General Putu Jayan Danu Putra, and the Head of Bank Indonesia for Bali, Trisno Nugroho.
Nugroho confirmed that while cryptocurrency is legal in Indonesia in the form of an asset, it is banned as a method of payment and transaction.
He explained further, “The Bank of Indonesia will not hesitate to impose sanctions on parties found using non-cash payment instruments other than Rupiah, including the use of digital assets in the form of Crypto.”
Governor Koster continued, clearly outlining the law regarding foreign business exchanges. The details are worth being reminded of whether tourists, digital nomads, ex-pat, potential investors, or business owners in Indonesia.
Koster said, “[those] who carry out foreign exchange business activities without permission from the Bank Indonesia can be punished with a minimum of one year up to a maximum of five years and a minimum fine of Rp50 million (US$3,300) and a maximum of Rp22 billion (US$1.4 million).”
For the majority of tourists, the formal ban and announcement of a crackdown on cryptocurrency may be of little interest.
What this particular announcement does highlight, however, is how seriously and how quickly the Bali Provincial government is working to make changes to legislation to ensure that the Acceleration of Bali Tourism Governance is enforced across the board.
Last week the Head of the Bali Tourism Office, Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun, announced that a second specialist task force had been deployed in Bali to help crack down on foreigners breaking the law and disrespecting cultural norms on the island.
Speaking to reporters at the announcement of the Task Force for the Acceleration of Implementation of Tourism Governance, Pemayun said, “This task force does not only supervise foreigners or tourists but supervises and controls all tourism activities, as well as public order related to tourism.”
While the task force will likely be focusing more directly on tourists behaving badly, the aim is to ensure that tourism operators across the island are playing their part in ensuring tourists have access to the information and resources they need for a respectful, enjoyable, and fulfilling stay on the island.
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