Bali believes the quality of its tourists is declining – and may introduce tough new rules to clamp down on their bad behaviour.
The Indonesian island is a popular backpacker destination for Western travellers in search of hot weather, beautiful beaches, and spiritual temples. Now Bali authorities have had enough of tourists treating their holy sites disrespectfully by climbing them or posing for photos in swimwear, and are considering introducing restrictions to how these sacred areas are accessed.
“The quality of tourists is now different from before,” said Bali’s deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Sukawati, known as Cok Ace. “It is because we are too open with tourists, so too many come.”
Five million people visited Bali in 2017 – more than its native population of around 4.3 million.
The exact nature of the new rules being considered aren’t yet clear, but may include tourists no longer being allowed to visit Hindu temples unaccompanied.
“This is the government’s attempt to maintain the Pura (temples),” said Cok Ace. “The temples need to be preserved since they are the spirits of Bali’s cultures and customs.”
These comments come only a few weeks after a photo of a Danish tourist sitting on the holy Linggih Padmasana shrine at Puhur Luhur Batukaru temple caused national outrage in Indonesia, where blasphemy is illegal.
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There have been numerous similar incidences in the last two years, both in Indonesia and across South East Asia. In 2016, Cambodia imposed a strict code of conduct on visitors to the sacred Angkor Wat site after several tourists posed naked for photos there.
We will report further if new rules are introduced for visitors to Bali.