The Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, has called on local people to urgently report any and all incidences of foreigners behaving badly on the island.
The call for action from the provincial leader comes as part of a bigger effort to crack down on unruly behavior from foreigners and promote high-quality tourism on the island.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, 28th May, Governor Koster was clear that he wants local residents to formally report any and all incidents they may observe of foreigners breaking the law or acting disrespectfully towards Balinese culture.
Governor Koster stated clearly to reporters in Denpasar that “Bali residents are prohibited from facilitating foreign tourists who wish to commit activities that are inconsistent with their visa permits or the provisions of law.”
Suggesting that not reporting violations unto itself is a form of complicity and facilitation on the part of local people.
The provincial leader continued his requests of the local people. He said, “Bali residents are obliged to report on foreign tourists’ activities that are inappropriate [legally or culturally] or inconsistent with their visa permits to the local police, immigration office, the Public Order Security Agency [Satpol PP], pecalang [Balinese traditional village security] and tourism office.”
Following an incident in Ubud where a foreigner experienced a mental health crisis and interrupted a cultural performance, local tourism stakeholders were measured in their dialogue, noting that the incident should be taken as an opportunity to ‘step forward’.
Though there was outrage and disbelief at the incident online, those responsible for cleansing the temple following the incident were keen to move forward in a positive manner.
Governor Koster has himself noted that cracking down on tourist behavior and his series of proposed policy changes are something of a ‘double-edged sword’ that can be traced back to the broadening of the post-Covid visa on arrival program.
He said that, on the one hand, the visa on arrival could make it easier for foreigners to visit Bali and has helped accelerate Bali’s economic recovery.
On the other hand, the visa on arrival, which is now available to citizens from 92 countries, is viewed by some as something of an open-door policy despite the IDR 500,000 price tag.
The visa on arrival, according to Governor Koster, also makes it easier for foreigners who are “not of good quality” to come to Bali and engage in unwanted behavior.
He told reporters on Sunday evening that the actions of the provincial government come as a response to the actions of international tourists.
Governor Koster noted that the plans to implement a comprehensive policy on tourism governance in Bali are in full flow.
He acknowledged that the crackdown on badly behaved tourists risks being counterproductive, especially as many tourism businesses in Bali are still in the process of recovering from the impacts of the pandemic.
The provincial government wants to see policy changes and more rigorous implementation of existing laws to ensure that high-quality tourism prevails in Bali and that local culture and customs are preserved and respected.
Governor Koster said that more proactive enforcement of policies would ensure that the issue is tackled across the board on a case-by-case basis.
He added, “We will enact this comprehensive policy on tourism governance in Bali in the coming weeks.”
Much of what the policy will cover has already been alluded to during announcements over the last few weeks.
Despite the rapid developments on the policy front, the Indonesian Minster for Tourism and Creative Economies has reassured tourists that the red carpet will still be rolled out for their arrival, noting that tourists are welcome on the Island of the Gods.
Governor Koster concluded, “We will immediately hold a meeting with the central government to address and evaluate the Visa on Arrival policy so that its implementation does not make Bali tourism seem cheap tourism.”
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