The Bali Photography Association has raised concerns that foreigners on the island are offering a range of photography and videography, likely without the correct work permits. The Bali Photography Association (Hipdi Bali) have taken to social media and spoken with local reporters regarding their observations and the impact these kinds of illegal operations are having on legitimate local photography services.
The Chairman of Hidpi Bali, Gusde, told reporters that he had found several social media accounts of foreigners offering documentation services, photography, and videography experiences in Bali. He is convinced that these individuals are working and operating businesses without the correct visa, and in many cases, without registering a business in Indonesia. He explained, “They are actually not open for business, but that does not mean they don’t exist. This is what we are currently exploring, whether they are on vacation while working.”
He explained that there are a number of scenarios at play but that if these individuals are in Bali on tourist visas then, then offering photography services in Indonesia is illegal. He added, “this [issue] must be raised so that the government is also aware that their activities have violated the rules and disrupted the activities of fellow photographers whose home base is in Bali”.
Gusde shared a screenshot of a conversation he had online with one of the suspected illegal photographers. In the exchange, Gusde asks if the foreigner has the correct visa, to which the foreigner replies, “I have because I work in local production, but as I know, it’s not necessary.” The screenshot has been shared to the @hipdi_bali Instagram account with the caption, “Are they even legal? Indirectly career as a guide then switch to selling photography and videography services. Is it really that easy? Please no visa abuse in Bali”.
The post has attracted dozens of comments with many people tagging Immigration, Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno, and social justice activist Niluh Djelantik. One commenter wrote, “Many like this, with all kinds of disguises, there are even disguised selling photos with the excuse of donation,” while another said, “The average photographer and model have an agency that is Indonesian too…Oh yes, tattoo artists and yoga spiritual teachers roaming around on Instagram too”.
When asked about whether foreign photographers were undermining the prices of local creatives, Gusde said it was beside the point. He explained, “It’s not a matter of price. It’s a matter of taking our chances and a matter of the permits they violated. In my opinion, this undermines the state apparatus and existing regulations; they should be able to respect that.”
The Head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, Tjok Bagus Pemayun, has been alerted to the issue. He says that he will bring the situation to the attention of immigration authorities and ensure that this kind behavior is not allowed to continue. He told reporters, “If the visa is only for a vacation and he takes a job, of course, this is not permissible. According to the rules, it’s not permissible for tourists to go on vacation and take jobs as photographers.”
He added that there are visa categories that allow for documentary making, film, and media, but that a tourism or digital nomad visa is not it. He said that documentary photographers must convey the information they find and their work to the relevant authorities. “They are the ones who work in the field and have direct contact with the world of documentation itself. We hope they will continue to convey all the information that is based on data in the field.”
Pemayum concluded that although it is not the Tourism Office’s place to deal directly with foreigners who are potentially doing illegal activities in Bali, as a government authority, they can help coordinate and facilitate conversations and transfer of information so that ‘the Bali tourism ecosystem continues to be good in the future’.
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