Badly behaved tourists in Bali are nothing new, with Australians particularly notorious amongst locals for their raucous behaviour. However, it seems that authorities have had enough, announcing a new campaign designed to educate tourists on etiquette and crack down on repeat offenders…
From COVID-clueless YouTubers with drawn-on face masks, Instagrammers launching their motorbikes into the sea, and even a couple filming porn on a sacred mountain, Bali is all too used to tourists who flout local rules and customs in pursuit of their own progress or pleasure.
Australian tourists in Bali are often some of the worst offenders. Part of that is simply an unfortunate consequence of demographics: according to Statista, Aussies visit Bali more than any other country (over three times as many Aussies visit Bali as the next biggest source of arrivals, India).
Yet the fact remains that many Aussies behave badly when they’re in Bali. Renowned for drunken raucousness and accompanying foul language, Aussies are a bit of a scourge in Bali (although they’re not the only tourists who behave badly).
In light of all this, it seems that Balinese authorities have finally had enough. As well as starting a vicious crackdown on tourists who are violating the terms of their visa by working and earning an income while “visiting” the island, the government have announced plans to correct tourists bad behaviour using billboards.
Currently in its “socialisation” phase – whereby the idea of educative billboards has been tabled and officials are now gauging public support – the proposal was described by Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board.
“The point is for tourists to respect the cultural customs of the Balinese by dressing well and eating and being orderly in carrying out traffic activities,” he says.
Traffic and hiring scooters seem to be a pinch point for tourists violating accepted cultural norms. Videos regularly surface on TikTok or Youtube of tourists flooding the roads with hired-by-the-hour scooters which, best case scenario, heap congestion on already strained infrastructure and, worst case scenario, put drivers at risk through their own lack of experience or respect for safety protocols.
We can also interpret the “dressing well” thing as a stab at some of the lewd behaviour some tourists get up to in the tropical Indonesian idyll – take this influencer’s thirsty photoshoot at a sacred tree. And we haven’t even mentioned the bonk ban…
Unsurprisingly then, authorities confirmed that at least ten large billboards will be installed with English instructions and advice plastered over them, but the government anticipates replicating these in other languages once they’ve had a chance to measure the impact of the English-language signs.
Adnyana was keen not to scare tourists away from Bali: “we are welcoming and accept everything, guests are king”, he simply asks that guests “don’t abuse” the island they so widely covet. He also announced plans to collaborate with social media influencers, tourism stakeholders, e-commerce businesses, and international content creators to publicise the new project.
The public awareness campaign comes hot on the heels of a wider crackdown on illegal workers on the island. Last month, a Russian national was deported after working illegally on the island despite being on a temporary residence visa.
Though Bali has been a longtime holiday favourite for Aussies and Europeans alike – a trend that shows no signs of changing – it seems that Bali’s reputation as a ready getaway for cutting loose or shaking off the shackles of civilisation might be coming to a long overdue end. The locals want their island to be shown some respect, and they’re willing to cut short your booze cruise to get it.