Bali Under Threat: A Desperate Plea for Responsible Tourism
(Image credits: Getty Images)
Indonesia is well-known for its amazing hospitality, from the locals you meet on the street to workers in the service industry. As part of our Indonesian identity, we were always taught to treat others with respect, including guests. It is our local wisdom to welcome those who come into our home and ensure they feel appreciated for their visit. However, the hospitality provided by Indonesian locals has recently been taken for granted, especially on the island of Bali, one of Indonesia's biggest tourist destinations. With the reopening of the border after years of closure due to COVID-19, many issues of tourists disrespecting the culture and locals of Bali are surfacing.
This reckless behavior is most clearly seen on the road. With the ease of renting motorbikes in Bali, tourists who might not have prior experience riding motorbikes, let alone a legal license, run loose on the streets, often riding carelessly and breaking laws, disrupting the peace and safety of the island. However, the local government is currently trying to lower the percentage of reckless driving by banning visitors from renting motorbikes.
The biggest issue experienced by locals is the disrespect coming from these tourists. There are many reports of foreigners showing rude behavior in sacred places, such as temples or mountains. The most recent case happened this month and involved a Russian tourist named Yuri Chilikin, who was deported by the government for posting a half-naked picture of himself from the waist down on top of Mount Agung. To the majority of locals who follow the Hindu religion, Mount Agung represents the god Shiva, and those who wish to hike it are required to attain a permit.
Another example of disrespect from tourists is seen in how they treat the locals. Countless videos have gone viral on social media showcasing foreign visitors getting into brash arguments with locals, or in more serious cases, taking away the locals' jobs by providing services or work without the proper visa or permit. This is especially harmful to the locals, as many of them rely on freelance jobs to support their daily needs.
Many Indonesians are expressing their growing concerns through social media, wondering why tourists act carelessly in a country where they are guests. The government and immigration are beginning to be stricter towards misbehaving tourists, deporting them in an effort to change the country's reputation of having bad tourists.
Misbehavior from tourists can be extremely harmful, not only to locals or other tourists but also to Bali's overall attractiveness for tourism. At the end of the day, real people live in Bali, with their own everyday routines and culture. Bali is home to many real locals and not just a "party island" where everyone only intends to vacation. Despite Indonesia's exceptional hospitality, tourists need to understand their position as outsiders. It is still the local's land, with traditions and cultures that need to be followed and respected. Responsible tourism is an issue that desperately needs to be addressed in Indonesia to set boundaries between the locals and tourists.