Bali Considers Tougher Visa Entry Restrictions For Unruly Tourists

Bali Considers Tougher Visa Entry Restrictions For Unruly Tourists

After Bali’s post-Covid-19 reopening in March 2022, more than 50,000 Russians have flocked there; more than 22,000 followed suit in January along with more than 2,000 Ukrainians.

Bali authorities in March called for Indonesia’s visa-on-arrival program for citizens of Russia and Ukraine to be halted, citing unruly tourists as the reason.

“Bali has long-since had a reputation for being a laid back destination where hedonistic tourism is tolerated,” Director of Check-in Asia Gary Bowerman said. “Bad tourism behavior has had a cumulative impact over the years. Local people are wary of tourists who make public shows of being disrespectful to local customs and communities, and it causes friction.”

Many of the problems currently plaguing Bali, according to Bowerman, were there before the pandemic but have grown worse as a result of recent restrictions on tourism.

He listed several examples of bad behavior the Balinese government is cracking down on, such as tourists disobeying mask laws or operating motorized vehicles like scooters or motorbikes without helmets.

Even before 2023, intoxication, public nudity, and disrespect for sacred Balinese sites have developed into frequent patterns of conduct on the island. 

“The magnifying glass on Asian holiday destinations like Bali is stronger right now because of the developing context of a post-Covid recovery,” Bowerman said. “Bali’s authorities have responded with statements about scooter bans and a tourism tax and they have deported a few tourists as well but none of those actions seem to be deterring those who wish to behave poorly from doing so.”

When it was announced that Indonesia would stop granting Russian and Ukrainian visitors visas on arrival, many Ukrainians in Bali reacted with alarm, alleging the vast majority of occurrences of unruly tourists can be attributed to a number of Russian visitors.

Data Shows Positive Trend for Bali's Tourism Industry in 2023

“(Bali is) a safe place for Ukrainians,” said one Ukrainian named Dmytro, according to the CNN story. “Ukrainians respect Balinese law and culture. Russians are the second largest tourist group in Bali and if you read the news, you’ll see how often it is Russians breaking local laws and disrespecting Balinese culture and traditions.”

The Indonesian government appears ready to impose tough restrictions to stop this misconduct, regardless of who is to blame.

Bowerman added that the reach and influence of social media in stoking controversy to increase followership and engagement is one of the main issues surrounding the Bali crisis. 

“The more that Balinese authorities respond with deterministic public statements and proposed strategies and the media continues to follow the trail, the more influencers will feel emboldened to further disrespect local norms, rules and culture,” Bowerman said. “It’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.”