As yet another video of tourists dressed in swimwear in a location other than the poolside or beach goes viral in Bali, tourists are divided about what is and isn’t acceptable vacation attire.
A video of two women dressed in bikinis in a supermarket in Seminyak has been posted on the Facebook group Bali Bogans. The page has over 300,000 members and is one of the busiest Bali-focused travel forums on the internet.
The internet is shaken by the sight of two women dressed in particularly skimpy swimwear in the supermarket, and onlookers appear to be just as alarmed.
Yet, this level of public nudity is an all too common sight in Bali’s resort towns.
@nitralanell Grocery shopping in Bali went like this….600k Rupiah for 15 items😭 #balisupermarket #touristgrocerystore #groceryshoppinginbali #groceryshoppingisexpensive ♬ original sound – Nitra Lanell
The video has sparked a debate online as to what is and isn’t appropriate to wear and when in Bali.
While the island is synonymous with being a welcoming vacation destination for travelers from all around the world, Bali and Indonesia as a whole is a very modest country, especially in terms of dress.
According to on-lookers the two British tourists were approached by fellow travelers and advised to cover up out of respect for local culture, though they say the duo swore at them and ignored the advice.
Throughout the last year officials and tourism leaders in Bali have doubled down on their efforts to ensure that tourists are educated and informed about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior on the island; including respectable dress.
While the list of do’s and don’ts for Bali stipulates that modest attire must be worn at temples and sacred sites, including a sarong and sash, this level of modesty is also expected of tourists all across the island.
Speaking to reporters about the video the Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council for the Future of Sustainable Tourism, Professor Joseph Cheer, shared a balanced view on the situation.
Professor Cheer said that once upon a time this kind of behavior in Bali did not receive much of a backlash, but that doesn’t make it right.
He explained, “This idea that you can just walk around the main street in your bikini I think was one that Bali kind of tolerated.”
He added, “But [local people have] moved from tolerating behavior to now demanding appropriate behavior, which I think is important.”
He noted that although efforts to curb this kind of behavior are in place, it will take some time before all tourists are fully on board and respectful of the rules.
Bali has long been a destination where tourists feel they can let loose without consequence and that reputation will be hard to shift.
Nevertheless, a huge number of interventions are in place to help ensure that the island continues moving closer towards sustainable and high-quality tourism as default.
The outrage shared by onlookers and online commenters is an affirmation of progress.
Professor Cheer continued “Bali is trying to shift away from the tourism model of group travelers coming on package tours, like for hen nights, bucks nights, and schoolies, to what they refer to as higher quality tourists.”
He concluded, “This means tourists who are interested in the culture, food, and people, not just sitting by the pool getting blind drunk and going to a club in Kuta.”
Though many people dislike the notion that all actions could be recorded by another member of the public at any time and posted online, it could also serve as a valuable tool.
If some demographics of tourists are not willing to respect local Balinese and Indonesian law and culture, perhaps the threat of going viral online might be enough to keep them from behaving properly?
Or if stories like this continue to hit headlines, it may reiterate to tourists that this kind of behavior is not tolerated however harmless it may feel to the perpetrators in the moment.
The question now is are all these interventions sufficient, and will baldy behaved tourists buck up their ideas, carry on regardless, or look to other destinations where wild behaviour is tolerated?
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