Indonesia’s crackdown on troublesome travellers in Bali doesn’t go far enough, and punishments for bad behaviour should be more than just “a slap on the wrist”, says a leading Australian professor.
After years of drunken tourists causing chaos in public, influencers posing naked at sacred sites, and reckless drivers causing accidents, authorities in Bali have implemented a range of measures designed to deter unruly foreigners.
“It’s good to see the authorities have said, ‘enough is enough’, and the crackdown is definitely having an effect,” Professor Joseph Cheer from Western Sydney University told Yahoo News Australia. “But I think destination authorities have to come down strictly and have measures that are a significant deterrent.”
While Professor Cheer conceded the vast majority of tourists are doing the right thing, a recent viral video shows a man attempting to manoeuvre a scooter through traffic before smashing into a parked taxi and seemingly fleeing the scene. The clip which is titled ‘Idiot of the day, hopefully he’s caught and deported’ has been viewed more than 6,600 times on Facebook.
“I hope he was stopped and has to pay for damages,” one person wrote online. “And people wonder why they are coming down hard on idiots!” another said. “Bali doesn't need these clowns anytime.”
How is Bali cracking down?
Since the start of the year, authorities in Indonesia have been getting tougher on visitors in an attempt to stamp out reckless behaviour, by reinforcing laws and introducing stricter penalties, including deportation. A taskforce has also been set up to monitor for illegal activity, while a hotline has been established for locals to dob in a tourist.
On top of this, travellers are being handed a list of ‘Dos and Don’ts’ the moment they arrive in Bali. Among the ‘dos’ is respecting the holy nature of temples and dressing modestly and appropriately when visiting sacred places and tourist attractions. On the ‘don’ts’ list is not climbing sacred trees, taking nude photos and swearing at government officials or even other tourists.
Meanwhile, plans are underway to introduce a $15 tourism tax in 2024, targeting Australians and other international tourists, in an effort to revive Bali after the pandemic and protect its environment which has been damaged by tourists littering and graffitiing monuments.
Bali needs more than punitive measures
Professor Cheer argued there needs to be more defined boundaries set to combat Bali’s “anything goes” narrative. “A lot of measures are punitive,” he said. “The sense is that if officials punish people with hefty fines, that might change things. But of course, it only goes so far.”
He added that deterrents have to be significant, “otherwise people will say, ‘Oh, it's $100 I can manage that’. “Penalties should be more severe, and if a deterrent doesn’t work in the first place, it needs to be stepped up a notch.”
But just how far should authorities go? “The extreme has been deportation, and we’ve seen the authorities do that,” Processor Cheer, who’s also the co-chair of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council for the Future of Sustainable Tourism, said. “It’s easy to do that, when it concerns borders, because you can prevent someone from entering the country and that’s really the worst thing you can do.”
Professor Cheer instead suggested a tier system of punishment, with imprisonment at the top. “I think if you said to people, ‘If you’re found out not wearing a helmet, you could spend three days in Bali in prison’, that would be a more significant deterrent than a $100 fine.”
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