In recent weeks there has been an explosion of opinion, outrage, and action against ‘naughty’ foreigners in Bali.
From deportations to restorative justice meetings to fines for bad driving, some have observed that the island has become a hostile place for tourists.
In reality, hostility is mostly a symptom of online dialogue. Local leaders have assured tourists that they are welcome in Bali; they’ve just got to stay ‘classy.’
Speaking at a meeting for the Regional People’s Legislative Council of the Province of Bali (abbreviated DPRD Bali) about the issue of bad tourists, the Chairman of the DPRD Bali, Nyoman Adi Wiryatama, made his feelings clear.
Wiryatama told provincial leaders, “We need tourists, but tourists who are classy, not tourists who throw tantrums.” His comments appear to be in reference to the dozens of viral videos that are circulating online of foreigners in Bali arguing with police and pecalang (village security) about where they can and cannot go, driving recklessly or driving without safety equipment.
He continued to call for tough action against foreigners who broke the law in Bali. Adding, “We ask the police, law enforcers, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights to take firm action against tourists for this behavior. If necessary, just deport from Bali.”
Many people online are calling for immediate deportations of any and all foreigners caught breaking the law in Bali, disrespecting local culture, and in some cases, even the slightest misdemeanor.
Last week, as the dialogue around ‘bad bules’ reached a fever pitch, officials from Indonesia’s Department of Immigration said that they have always worked around the clock to take action against foreigners acting illegally in the country — noting that viral videos and online dialogue do not have an influence on their work.
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In a statement to the press, the Head of the Immigration Division of the Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Barron Ichsan, explained, “If it is said that there is an assumption that immigration only works when it goes viral, that answer is not true.”
He revealed that 194 people were deported from Bali in 2022, the majority of which were not covered by the media.
It seems that the dust is starting to settle, and more and more people are in agreement that the recent actions of the government are making a difference. The representative for Buleleng Regency told the hearing committee
“We believe the government has taken steps to try to control tourists who are disturbing. We support the government to deal with the phenomenon of tourists throwing tantrums, of course, with the existing rule.”
The rules are pretty clear, pretty simple, and really do make sense. Obey the actual law, respect local culture, and remember that you’re a visitor to Bali.
The conversations that have happened in public in the last few weeks have been a long time coming, but they should not be considered as a reason not to visit Bali.
There may have been a few dozen viral videos and a slight increase in public deportations, but in reality, not much has changed in Bali. It’s simply playing out in the open. Foreigners behaving badly are being held to account as they always have done.
Unfortunately, there have been cases of foreigners acting up in Bali for decades. While it is never acceptable, and some may argue, things have become wilder of late, the day-to-day reality for tourists in Bali feels much the same as it always has; welcoming, relaxed, and enjoyable.
The vast, vast majority of visitors in Bali continue to respect, revere and enjoy their time on the island. There are millions of international and domestic visitors that arrive in Bali every year, and less than 1% end up being deported from the country.
So, how can tourists in Bali ‘stay classy’? This, too, is not a new conversation. For years, tourism stakeholders have been calling on the sector to encourage high-quality tourism.
In fact, last year, the Indonesian Minster for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno, said that he wanted to see a shift towards a more sustainable and exclusive model, using the highly controlled tourism system in Bhutan as an example.
Here are three simple ways to stay classy as a tourist in Bali;
- Remember who you are and where you are; a visitor on a deeply spiritual island.
- Respect local law and local culture; drive safely, dress appropriately, and communicate with humility.
- Enjoy! Enjoy your time in Bali; try everything, smile, have fun, see the positives and encourage others to do the same.
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Tuesday 11th of April 2023
I'm always amazed bt the volume of negative and critical comments, particularly by expats and returning visitors.
Sure there's things that give you the sh*ts. Sure the seeming lack of action does the same.
But please remember, you chose to live here instead of your home country, aware of the problems. You don't like it? Go home, or do something constructive instead of whingeing.
It's their country and they're entitled to deal or bumble through the best they can.
I find it particularly ironic that bules complain about traffic congestion, inferior listrik, water supply, garbage collection...etc.
* How many of you take the car or bike instead of using the available buses and ojeks you say locals should use? Do you do something a simple as avoiding peak hours where possible? * How many are living in houses with aircon, fans, pools, poor design, over powered (wattage) creating problems for the grid and the locals. * How many don't give a bugger about water consumption * How many actively use measures to reduce their garbage. If your organic bin is sitting outside for 3 weeks waiting for collection, it's your fault. * The smell of burning plastic. Have you done your bit and no longer use it?
Bali is a great place. The people are marvellous, the feeling is senang. It far outweighs the problems. That's why I chose to live here.
I have no desire at all to push, direct or influence it to accomodate me.
Sunday 23rd of April 2023
@Shorty, OMG it's Saint Shorty. Or maybe a Bhuddist monk? Running Yoga Classes are we?
Saturday 8th of April 2023
I never ever thought I would have to write this.
There was always an undertone of racism in Bali against foreigners, but wow after living here for over 8 years, being married to a Balinese I have experienced the full extent of the hatred they have for us. I see other comments using the word Bule, they don't understand it's the same as using the n word.
I just spent 4 days in my banja village which I'm a member of being racially abused, never before have I experienced this so I am shocked and upset about it.
It's ok they take my money, I respect the culture totally, but still I am abused.
Let's look at facts, I have rode a bike for 40 years, in fact I'm a trained police and army dispatch rider, and I had an accident.
After an investigation it was found that the Balinese where at fault, not me! But I was asked to pay to sort their bikes.
I refused and asked the police, " you say they are at fault and I'm in hospital they are not and you want me to pay" the police said, and I have proof "that's the Bali way to treat bule"
So I'm all for respect for the island and the law, when will Balinese do the same!!
Monday 3rd of April 2023
Bali had a chance during the "pandemic" to plan alternatives to mass tourism but failed as soon as the world opened up. Now they focus primarily on getting as many foreign visitors as possible. Locals can see that the government doesn't care so they act accordingly.
Sunday 2nd of April 2023
How about Permata Bank get classy and stop opening illegal accounts for foreigners on Social Visas and Tourist Visas?
Thursday 6th of April 2023
@Yuoku, and Where do you fit in the small prints??
Monday 3rd of April 2023
@Lester Pike, like the Russians you mean?? These people who open an account get a third party approval from a notary.
Several other non Russian foreigners open bank accounts at Permata bank.
Monday 3rd of April 2023
@Lester Pike, see, you gotta read between the lines. FOREIGNERS must stay classy, local stay trashy. The laws only apply to foreigners.
Friday 31st of March 2023
Here's one law.
'No smoking in Restuarants'?
Ome simple law or rule, which is completely disregarded everywhere.
Really crap for non smokers..