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Leaders Fear Bali Lovers Are Considering Other Vacation Destinations

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Bali has been hitting international headlines recently, but not always for the best reasons.

A surge in cases of tourists behaving badly on the island has led to authorities introducing a series of policy changes, and some tourists have felt a hint of hostility come their way as a result of the actions of a tiny minority. 

Sunset at Tanah Lot Temple.jpg

Bali has long been one of the world’s most in-demand travel destinations. But as tensions have reached a fever pitch this year between a small minority of badly behaved tourists and concerned local citizens, some Bali lovers are reevaluating where they want to spend their vacation time

This is a conversation that has been playing out online and IRL. It only takes a quick look at the comments section of social media accounts for Bali lovers to see how many returning visitors are starting to feel like destinations like Phuket in Thailand may be more welcoming than the Island of the Gods. 

It is not only tourists who are worried that Bali’s famous hospitality is starting to wear thin. 

Nyoman Astama, who is the Managing Director of Pacific Holidays DMC, has shared his concerns with reporters. Astama is calling on the tourism sector in Bali to make a conscious effort to prioritize friendly service to all visitors. 

Astama said, “We have to be aware that Bali is not alone [as a destination].” With travel within South East Asia easier than ever before, tourists have plenty of options to choose from. Right now, Bali’s biggest competition is Phuket, an area of Thailand also undergoing a post-pandemic surge in popularity. 

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@fruitingbodypodcast 🇹🇭PHUKET vs. 🇮🇩BALI ✅️Which place is better to live long term as an expat? #phuket #Bali #phuketvsbali #Thailand #Indonesia #digitalnomadbali #digitalnomadthailand #nomad #expat #fruitingbodypodcast ♬ Chill Vibes – Tollan Kim

Atsama shared, “Bali clearly has many competitors in seizing tourists, both local and foreign tourists. For the ASEAN region, Phuket is one of Bali’s competitors, which can be said head to head. Based on the calculation of the distance to one of the market segments, namely the European region, Phuket is clearly closer than Bali.” 

He added, “Automatically in transportation calculations, in this case, airplane tickets to Phuket are, of course, more competitive. Because the distance is closer.” Pilih mana? #phuketvsbali #balivsphuket ♬ When I First Saw You – Muspace

Yet, Astama feels that Bali has something more to offer tourists than Phuket. He explained, “When it comes to cultural arts, it is clear that we, Bali, are superior because it is indeed unique.”

This is something that Bali’s provincial leaders want to see promoted to tourists from around the world. Bali’s Governor Koster has acknowledged that the island is entering a new era of tourism which will place arts, culture, and the environment front and center.

Governor Koster wants to see culturally dignified and sustainable tourism become the new standard across the island in the wake of a series of culturally disrespectful and illegal acts by foreign tourists on the island. 

@klookanz Which holiday are you choosing? Thailand 🇹🇭 or Indonesia 🇮🇩 #klook #travelaesthetic #traveltok #thailand #indonesia #bangkok #phuket #chiangmai #bali #seminyak ♬ ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah – Da minibenz

Astama is calling on the hospitality and tourism sector to really prioritize the friendly and kind service the destination is so famous for.

This warmth and generosity of spirit is what sets Bali apart as a destination and cannot be forgotten as the new era of tourism starts to unfold. 

He explained, “Hospitality is not just a tagline, but a behavior and reality on the ground. I think that’s what must be [used] to the advantage of Bali tourism, so tourists can still enjoy visiting Bali.” 


It is not only Astama who is concerned that Bali lovers will start exploring their options for a vacation in Phuket or similar destinations in South East Asia.

Many tourists note that the free visa on arrival in Thailand vs. the paid-for visa on arrival in Indonesia has been a deciding factor in their travel plans, especially those traveling for a family vacation. But it is not only visas that are influencing vacation plans. 

Earlier in the year, the Deputy Governor of Bali, Cok Ace, voiced his concerns about how flight availability to Bali was negatively impacting the post-pandemic recovery.

Bali Airport is now operating many more flight routes than at the beginning of the year, with more services due to open soon. 


The General Manager of I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport revealed last week, “We are intensively coordinating with relevant stakeholders in order to open new routes to Bali. So, we are optimistic that we can provide services to 20 million passengers in 2023.”

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Slobodan Koloski

Tuesday 22nd of August 2023

It is changing for me. I come from a small country that is not on the VOA list and each visa cost is about $300. I paid 3 times already and I decided not to do it again. I make some parts for my business in Bali but I will move it somewhere where Visa is not an issue.


Sunday 20th of August 2023

I suspect the tiny minority are russians who have cowardly run away and are living I bali long term which and have no regard for the balinese laws or rules. Have seen it with my own eyes.


Saturday 19th of August 2023

Visas are a real hassle for Indonesia. The VOA you now have to pay for and the renewal process if you do it yourself means three days wasted going to the Kantor Imigrasi. If you pay a visa agent $100-150 that is cut to one wasted day. The EVOA website often doesnt work. It is a ridiculous system that is visitor-hostile. Not only that but they keep changing the visa system and rules and even the officials dont know WTF is going on and the computers are down all the time in Jakarta, and huge queues at Denpasar Immigrasi to renew visas...


Saturday 19th of August 2023

In Bali, the exceptions make the rule. Less than 0.001% tourist make trouble but we all have to pay for it.

I live in Thailand on and off, its laughable to compare bali with Thailand or even small cities the size of bali like pattaya or phuket.

Thailand tourism is matured enough to take in all bad apples as being natural part of tourism and NOT MAKES LAWS AROUND IT.

Bali hasn't matured enough to understand the nuances of human behavior, its self destructive behavior of bali which will end it not badly behaving russians.

Peering in

Friday 18th of August 2023

All this talk constantly of badly behaving tourists is complete deflection of the real truth. The real truth, in my experience, is that it’s Indonesians (including Balinese) that should be looking inward at their own behaviour. Crafty doesn’t even begin to describe these people.