Denpasar, Bali – Indonesia's resort island of Bali has deported more foreigners in the first seven months of this year than the whole of last year, with an expert noting that the immigration policy is likely to deter those who come to Bali to work illegally.
"Last year, in one year alone, 188 people (were deported). It's only July 2023 and already 198 people (have been deported)," Bali Ministry of Law and Human Rights head Anggiat Napitupulu was quoted as saying by CNN Indonesia on Sunday (Aug 6).
He noted concerns that an increasing number of visitors would lead to more violations in Bali.
"The violations are increasing ... The number of foreigners who came last year was still below 2 million. Now up till July alone, it is already 2.6 million people," he reportedly said.
"In the future, it is worrying because the more the people who come, the higher the potential for violations."
The top three most deported foreigners are from Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Mr Napitupulu reportedly said that the most common violation is overstaying, followed by illegal work.
Dedi Dinarto, lead Indonesia analyst at public policy advisory firm Global Counsel, told CNA that the policy is likely to deter foreigners who intend to come to Bali to take up illegal work.
"Despite law enforcement in Indonesia being lax, the immigration policy is somewhat more stringent, and tourists who overstay could easily be identified by the immigration system and database," he said.
He added that the increasing number of deportations has not meant anything to Bali's tourism sector.
This is particularly since figures from Indonesia's Central Bureau of Statistics suggest that foreign arrivals have continued to increase in number since the reopening of the border after the pandemic, he said.
Last Friday, an elderly French national was deported from Bali as he was uncared for and could not pay rent, according to state news agency Antara.
The 75-year-old is a permanent resident of Indonesia. Nonetheless, the French Consulate ensured that the man was a French citizen and they were willing to buy return tickets for the man and a French friend.
A Spanish national was also deported the same day using a self-funded ticket after she was caught trespassing onto a resident's property in Bali's Karangasem regency.
Besides deportation, other measures are being considered by Bali authorities in order to curb disorderly behaviour by tourists.
Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno said on Jun 12 that a discussion to ban people from climbing the island's mountains is ongoing, following reports of misbehaviour in what is believed to be sacred places.
The ban includes those from the local communities, tourists from other parts of Indonesia, as well as those from overseas. However, Bali Governor I Wayan Koster said the ban does not include those accessing the mountains for religious purposes and rituals.
At the end of May, Mr Koster also issued a circular outlining the dos and don'ts for foreign tourists visiting the island after several incidents of foreigners disrespecting local culture and laws sparked outrage among residents.
Earlier in March, he announced a proposed motorbike rental ban for tourists that would come into force this year in order to tackle disorderly behaviour.
Mr Koster said then that the proposed provincial-level ban means that foreigners would only be allowed to drive rental cars owned by travel agents.
"As tourists, they should act like tourists. They need to use vehicles prepared by travel agents instead of roaming around with a motorcycle, without wearing T-shirts, without clothes, a helmet, and even violating rules and also without a licence," he said.
– Additional reporting by Rhea Yasmine Alis Haizan.