Travelers visiting Bali risk being banned from mountains and sacred locations after a series of incidents triggered Bali’s governor to crack down on indecent behavior from tourists. A number of bans are being proposed to protect the island’s sacred natural sites. Over the past few months, local authorities have been deploring a number of incivilities on Indonesia‘s southern island.
These mountains are revered. If their sacredness is damaged, it is tantamount to degrading the sacredness of Bali.Wayan Koster, Governor of Bali
Some tourists have behaved in dangerous or offensive manners towards the islanders. Nude photos in sacred places, filming pornographic videos on high peaks considered to be deities, risky driving, degradation of protected natural areas. In less than half a year, around a hundred tourists have been deported
“These mountains are sacred and revered,” Bali’s governor, Wayan Koster, said in a press conference reported by CNN. “If their sacredness is damaged, it is tantamount to degrading the sacredness of Bali. This ban is in effect forever and is not only for foreign tourists but also domestic tourists and local residents. With the exception of religious ceremonies or the handling of natural disasters.”
Russian citizens rank first among these offenders accounting for 56 people. Most were driving without helmets, papers or license plates. The behavior of one Russian man in particular reignited the controversy in April who took a half-naked photo of himself, showing his lower body, on Mount Agung, a mountain revered by the Balinese because it represents Mount Shiva for them.
Authorities urged the Russian tourist to undergo an offering ceremony to the gods to understand the extent of his offense. He was thereafter deported and banned from entering the country for at least six months. In April of this year, a Russian woman posed nude for photos in front of a sacred tree and uploaded the images to her social media, as reported by The Independent. She was later deported. Between 43,000 and 53,000 Russian nationals are expected to arrive in Bali in early 2023. This influx is thought to be directly linked to the invasion of Ukraine and their wish to avoid the military draft.
The ban on mountainous areas still has to be approved by the local parliament before it becomes official law. Some Balinese are concerned about the repercussions the measure could have on tourism, which accounts for 80% of the country’s economy.
In April, Bali’s tourism and creative economy minister, Sandiaga Uno, said a tourism tax was “currently being studied”. Authorities want to deter mass tourism, which is very much concentrated on offering cheap vacation options. The goal is to focus on sustainable forms of tourist. The revenue raised through the tourist tax could be used to develop the local tourism industry.