Efforts by government officials in Bali to curb outrageous and unruly behavior by foreign visitors entered a new chapter with comments made by Governor Wayan Koster at a press conference on Sunday, 12 March 2023, held at the offices of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights in Denpasar.
The Governor took pains to explain that his office was not reacting to coverage in the press and social media regarding poorly behaved foreigners but has long been quietly and discreetly gathering evidence and formulating future enforcement measures.
At the press conference, Governor Koster restated his desire to cleanse the Island of Bali of “unhealthy” behavior. Koster said unruly actions by some foreign tourists are disturbing other tourists wishing to enjoy a Bali holiday.
New Rules for Bali Tourists
As reported by RadarBali.com, the Governor has unveiled new regulations making it mandatory that foreign tourists engage the services of a Bali travel agent to secure local transportation. Koster also announced that foreign tourists are now prohibited from renting motorcycles and driving themselves while on the Island.
Visa-on-Arrival for Ukrainian and Russian Nationals to End?
The Governor announced that he has written to the Central Government in Jakarta urging that the visa-on-arrival facility be withdrawn for Ukrainian and Russian nationals. Adding: “I’m sorry. This (action) is not a reaction to viral news and videos, and these viral reports have not influenced us. This is something that has been in the works since the COVID epidemic. This cannot be rushed; actions have been underway for months, and this work has been undertaken silently.”
The Governor has already sent a letter to the Minister of Law and Human Rights that was copied to the Minister of Tourism requesting that the visa-on-arrival (VOA) facility be withdrawn for people from Ukraine and Russia. He said further negotiation with the Central Government would determine if other countries should also lose access to VOA. Koster defended the decision to revoke the VOA for Russians and Ukrainians due to the ongoing conflict between those two countries and a need to minimize visits for non-tourist purposes.
Underlining his intent, Governor Koster said: “I have written to the Minister of Law and Human Rights (Kemenkumham) copied to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Kemenlu) asking to revoke the VOA facility for Russians and Ukrainians wishing to visit Bali.”
The Governor’s said new rules forbidding foreign tourists from driving vehicles are being introduced because of the disorderly manner in which tourists drive in Bali and the fact that many do not hold the required driver’s license (SIM). Koster reminded all tourists who visit Bali to act in an orderly and disciplined manner, obeying the laws of Indonesia and respecting local culture, especially the culture of the Island of Bali.
Koster continued: “Tourists must behave like tourists and use vehicles provided by travel agents. Tourists must not self-drive or drive a motorcycle without wearing a shirt or a helmet. What’s more, they do not have valid driver’s licenses, which are serious law violations.”
The Governor’s decision seems certain to precipitate protests from the many companies in Bali renting motorcycles and self-drive vehicles on the Island.
Addressing reports of foreign nationals holding official Indonesian identity cards (KTP), Koster said these incidents remain the subject of an ongoing police investigation. While the investigation continues, the Ministry of Law has not undertaken the deportation of foreigners with KTPs until the formal investigation is completed. Commenting further, Koster said: “The investigation of KTP forgery is still in progress.” He explained that the immediate deportation of specific individuals would frustrate efforts by police to identify all the parties involved in the document falsification.
Interviewed separately, the Head of the Bali Kemenkumham Office, Anggiat Napitupulu, said he viewed the letter the Governor wrote requesting the revocation of VOAs for Ukrainians and Russians as an appropriate initiative undertaken by the Head of the Province to safeguard Bali. Anggiat commented that while visa facilities were the official purview of the Central Government, the Provincial Governor’s input would certainly be considered by the Minister of Law and Human Rights.
VOA facilities are based on a decision by the Minister of Law and Human Rights, based on input from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Tourism, and the regional governments.
Russia and Ukraine are included in the list of 72 countries accorded Visa-on-Arrivals (VOA) for visiting tourists. Citizens of these 72 countries are allowed entry via nine international airports, eleven seaports, and four border crossing areas.
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