Officials in Bali have confirmed that the surveillance of tourists will intensify as locals are being pushed to the limit by unruly visitors. From trampling on sacred temples to revving engines and burning donuts in the road, from haggling too hard to disrespecting local artisans in the name of ‘content,’ locals in Bali are sick and tired of the minority of tourists who show disrespect to the island.
Sugito, the Head of the Ngurah Rai International Airport Immigration Agency, has told reporters that enough is enough. He has confirmed that he and his teams have been ordered to “intensify surveillance of foreign nationals, especially those who make trouble in Bali.”
He told reports that “If proven to have committed a violation, Immigration … will not hesitate to deport the foreigner concerned”. Indonesia has deported dozens of tourists in the last 18 months who have been found guilty of disrespectful behavior in Bali. Earlier in the year, Australian tourist Samuel Lockton was caught climbing a sacred Banyan tree at a temple in Bali.
Videos and photos of Lockton climbing the sacred tree went viral in mid-June. An eyewitness reported at the time that he refused to come down from the tree for over half an hour. When he eventually climbed down, he was taken in for questioning by local police and the community. He was later ‘invited to leave’ Bali and is believed to have been blacklisted from entering Indonesia.
Lockton’s deportation was swift as officials in Bali were already riled by the actions of Alina Fazleeva and Jeff Craigen. In unrelated incidences, they were both arrested for posing naked at sacred sites in Bali. Fazleeva was deported after she was caught posing naked in the roots of a sacred Banyan tree on temple grounds and shared the photos on social media.
Craigen, who is originally from Canada, was deported after he posted a video of himself doing the Haka at the summit of Bali’s holy Mount Batur. An act that was deeply offensive to communities in Bali and in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
In May, an Estonian model fled Bali, narrowly avoiding being called in for questioning by immigration, after she accused traffic police of corruption. Valeria Vasilieva was pulled over by traffic police in Bali on 18th May and ordered to pay a fine.
Angered by her encounter with traffic police, who were subsequently confirmed to have behaved appropriately, Vasilieva took to social media to vent. The video quickly went viral, and the social pressure mounted. Vasilieva is believed to have swiftly left Bali before immigration was able to file a case against her.
In October, locals in Bali and even tourists called for the deportation of an Australian traveler in Bali who was recorded burning skid marks on a street between Canggu and Seminyak. The man was not wearing a helmet and blocked traffic from passing down the road, and caused a noise disturbance by revving the engine.
Although he appeared to find the whole incident hilarious, it has proven to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Immigration and police in Bali have confirmed that they will take faster and more severe action against tourists who misbehave.
It is not only people from Bali who are tired of bad tourists. Even fellow travelers have spoken out about their fellow visitors’ ‘embarrassing’ behavior. Tanieka Monti, from Victoria, recently told reporters that her holiday was interrupted by tourists not respecting local people, culture, or destinations.
She shared her frustration with an online community. “I cannot stand one thing, and that is rude Australians…I’ve caught myself giving the death stare and mentioning to groups of Aussies how rude it is to talk to people the way they are; they are nothing but disrespectful and utterly rude to the local Balinese people”. Many agreed with her sharing their experiences of shameful behavior on the Island of the Gods. While others offered an alternative view that these kinds of incidences are the price to pay for the benefits of a thriving tourism sector.
One thing is for sure, it is no longer the case that ‘what happens in Bali, stays in Bali,’ and tourists must keep in mind that anything they say or do in Bali that disrespects the island and its culture could end up online or on the desk of immigration officials.
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