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'Bonk ban': How Bali's losing its allure

West Australian - March 18, 2023

Madeleine Achenza – Bali has long been a top holiday spot for Aussies, but the tide may be turning as stricter rules are introduced on the party island.

Aussies flock to the island every year for cheap food, affordable accommodation and stunning scenery.

Bali is the second most popular tourist destination for Australians, just behind New Zealand but well ahead of the US in third place.

More than 2.1 million tourists visited Bali last year, blowing forecasts out of the water by more than half a million visitors.

The laid-back island, known as a carefree paradise where anything goes, has been a pull for tourists for decades.

But that easygoing atmosphere may soon be a thing of the past, as the local governor pushes to crack down on bad behaviour.

Bali Governor Wayan Koster has asked national authorities to ban all foreigners from hiring motorbikes "to ensure quality and dignified tourism".

The move comes after a campaign was launched targeting tourists wearing skimpy clothing and a "bonk ban" was announced.

While the push to crack down on bad behaviour may be surprising for some, Indonesian authorities have been clamping down on unruly behaviour for a few years.

The Bali Tourism Board shared a post to social media last week with the headline: "Enjoying Bali?"

What followed was a list of polite reminders to tourists outlining how to "show respect" for their rich culture.

"For everyone's safety, comfort and mutual respect, we ask you follow some common sense rules," the poster reads.

Bali poll

Many tourists are unaware Bali is a conservative island in a deeply religious country.

Indonesia's parliament approved legislation last year to outlaw sex outside marriage and cohabitation by unmarried couples.

A draft of the new laws states that while sex outside marriage would be banned, it could only be reported to authorities by a limited number of parties, such as close relatives.

That caveat may provide some protection for Australian citizens who visit or live in the country.

How tourists dress is also under scrutiny on the island, with a new education campaign on how to dress and act appropriately when in Bali launched in March this year.

Holiday-makers often stroll through the streets in next-to-nothing, but there are areas where this should not be happening, especially around sacred temples.

"The point is for tourists to respect the cultural customs of the Balinese by dressing well ... and being orderly in carrying out traffic activities," Bali Tourism Board chairman Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana said.

Bali's Tourism Board is in the "socialisation" phase of the campaign, which involves billboards.

The latest move is aimed at tourists renting motorbikes and scooters. Under the plan, which was revealed this week, visitors would be banned from renting scooters and bikes.

Mr Koster wants travellers to only use transportation provided by travel agencies after a number of incidents, such as foreign riders abusing police, failing to wear helmets and using fake number plates.

Footage emerged this week of a tourist in a heated exchange with a local cop after he was pulled over for not wearing a helmet.The shirtless tourist, who has a North American accent, was forced to stop in the middle of a busy road by officers. He then accuses them of harassing him for money. "You want to steal money, you want to steal money, you want to steal?"

A police officer who filmed the exchange then fires back: "Too much talking, you."

"I've been watching Balinese people ride over and over again with no helmet and you don't stop them, you don't stop the Balinese," the tourist responds.

When the officer attempts to grab the bike and move it off the road, the man responds: "Don't touch my stuff. Keep your hands off me."

The clip then ends. It is unclear what happened next.

The tourist's behaviour has been slammed as rude, with some even calling for him to be deported. "Bali doesn't deserve foreigners like this," one person wrote.

New rules for Bali tourists

1. Always wear a helmet on a motorbike
2. Avoid drunk and indecent behaviour in public
3. Do not post offensive, vulgar pictures to social media
4. Confine skimpy beachwear to appropriate venues
5. Working without a visa is strictly prohibited
6. Respect the local people and our culture

Members of the community Facebook group Bali Bogans reacted to the new guidelines with a range of emotions.

"Heartily agree," one member said.

"Most of us tourists are sick of the behaviour of some of those people. More respect please."

"While I agree with the post I believe it's hypocritical to instruct tourists what to do when their own people don't even follow the rules, lead by example right?" another person said.

"Not all of those things are laws but common sense ... and there is no penalty for stupidity other than karma," a third said.

Source: https://thewest.com.au/news/bonk-ban-how-balis-losing-its-allure-c-1007927