Bali announces new guidelines for international visitors

Bali regional government has recently released a new set of regulations for international travellers in response to the increasing cases of delinquent behaviours exhibited by tourists on the resort island.

In the circular issued on May 31, Bali governor Wayan Koster has listed a number of obligations and prohibitions for tourists while on the island. Strict actions including sanctions and legal actions will be taken against those who violate the regulations.

The new guidelines include rules that tourists dress appropriately and behave respectfully at temples and all public areas; a girl performing a spiritual cleansing ceremony known as melukat, pictured

Top of the list is that tourists should respect the sacredness of temples, religious effigies and other holy religious symbols, and be dressed appropriately when visiting these areas. Visitors should be dressed properly at tourist attractions and public areas – respectful behaviour should also be observed at all public areas.

Tourists are barred from entering the main part of a temple, and are not allowed to climb sacred trees or perform actions that desecrate sanctified places and religious symbols.

Gde Pitana, a former deputy minister at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and a Balinese Hindu priest, was involved in drafting the new regulations. He explained that they are aligned with the roadmap for responsible travel, which aims to develop Bali as a sustainable cultural destination based on Balinese Hindu principles while also benefitting the environment.

He added that the “dos and don’ts list follows the culture tourism code of ethics issued by UNWTO”.

Pitana clarified that the regulations do not entirely ban tourists from participating in cultural and religious events, such as the melukat (spiritual cleansing ceremony) or the ogoh-ogoh parade (before Day of Silence).

He shared that tourists can still join in as long as “they follow the rules and regulations that apply, such as dressing appropriately and respecting the customs, traditions, and local wisdom of the Balinese people during ongoing ceremonial processions and rituals”.

In response to the government move, Indonesian travel trade players TTG Asia spoke to agreed with the do’s and don’ts but felt that it will require firmness from the government to implement it.

Paul Talo, chairman of The Indonesian Inbound Operators Association, said: “(Such delinquent behaviours) happening right now is the result of the lack of law enforcement from the authorities. The new guidelines are only a reminder of the existing rules – the content is indeed stricter but if law enforcement remains minimal, violations will (continue) to occur.”

Paul urged the police and authorities to take strict and uncompromising action against lawbreakers, regardless of their nationalities.

Rahman Mukhlis, chief operating officer of Main Outdoor, encouraged the government to promote the detailed guidelines in social settings so as to avoid a misunderstanding that the new regulations constitute a travel ban – instead, they should emphasise that the guidelines are a way to protect tourists while preserving nature in Bali.

In addition, Rahman hopes that the government will involve more travel operators, including guides who are at the forefront, to remind tourists about the new regulations.

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