While Bali waited two years to welcome back tourists with reduced restrictions, the island was given the chance to restore some balance after its consistent onslaught of tourists showing up at its doors.
Prior to the pandemic, more than 6.3 million people visited Bali in 2019, but when this came to a halt, the country severely suffered since a large portion of its income relies heavily on tourism.
The environment, on the other hand, was able to heal. Sound pollution was kept to a minimum, and the once-congested streets were left bare.
When borders began to open, Bali was again flooded with tourists – but not always the good kind.
In February and March this year, over 170 foreigners broke traffic laws, which included drunk driving and speeding. Motorbikes are one of Bali’s main modes of transport, and with tourists wanting to enjoy the local experience, they opt to rent motorbikes under more lenient rules and with little experience.
Bali provides ample opportunities for tourists to have experiences that they typically wouldn’t be able to enjoy in their home countries since the country takes a laxer approach to certain safety standards.
While the country celebrated the return of tourists after such an impactful closure on the economy, locals couldn’t help but reminisce on the days when things were a little calmer and safer.
In an effort to restore some of the balance that was achieved during the lockout, the government has decided to ban tourists from renting motorbikes.
It seems the country has had enough of the reckless behavior that tourists participate in while riding them, so this new rule will be implemented later this year.
Governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster, is calling for tourists to act like tourists and use cars booked through travel agents instead of motorbikes.
He explained that some of the bad behaviors on motorbikes involve driving without t-shirts and clothes, not wearing a helmet, violating traffic rules, and driving without a license – which all present safety risks for locals and other travelers.
Bali is mainly Hindu, and due to its strong tourist presence, the island is known to have softer restrictions, but it is still located within a majority-Muslim country and needs to reflect the mainland.
Earlier this year, Indonesia made the controversial decision to ban pre-marital relations and living together outside of marriage, although it was caveated that this wouldn’t impact tourists.
Even if this law doesn’t apply to tourists, the country is taking a stronger stance on maintaining its traditional roots, despite the presence of rowdy and indecent tourists that have become a staple of the Bali scene.
Tourists have been known to disrespect Indonesia’s more conservative approach, and as tensions rise between locals and tourists, the country is making efforts to have more control.
Last year, the government set an example of two influencers that disrespected the country’s mask mandates by painting masks on their faces in blue paint and entering a grocery store.
The two influencers were widely criticized by locals and foreigners, and officials made the decision to deport them.
Meanwhile, after locals experienced a much quieter period with no bars and clubs blasting music until the early hours of the morning, there have been more recent calls to keep noise levels in check.
More than 8,000 locals signed a Change.org petition last year in the party district Canggu and surrounding areas complaining of noise that was compared to “worse than an earthquake.”
The petition called out tourists for being disrespectful and indecent, with drunkenness, sexual activities, and urinating on temple walls in the area.
Following the Change.org petition, a meeting was called, and officials announced a requirement for venues to limit noise to 70 decibels and close by 1 am, but locals are still waiting to see how these will be enforced since this ruling is already included in Indonesia’s environmental law.
There have been some reported changes in some areas, while other locations continue to play music until late. It doesn’t seem to be just the locals complaining, as certain blogs and articles have popped up asking if Bali is still worth it.
Last year, Bali launched a 10-year visa for tourists, which is aimed at visitors with higher net worth. One of the requirements states that the visa holder must have $128,554 USD in their bank account, while the 6-month digital nomad visa requires $2,000.
With some of these recent changes, it seems that Bali is now striving for an equal medium – a destination that encourages tourists to visit but also respects the local customs and safety standards.
It will be a matter of time to see if these changes will last, but locals are hopeful that new rules and requirements will curb some of the bad behavior that Bali has developed a reputation for.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com