Bali set to curb tourism

Governor Wayan Koster has suggested a quota system to limit the number of travelers to the island

Tourists hoping to vacation on the Indonesian island of Bali may soon be required to register for their trip one year in advance, under new proposals to cap the number of visitors. Governor Wayan Koster has suggested introducing a “quota system,” citing concerns over misbehaving foreigners. 

Koster told reporters on Thursday that he was unhappy with the increasing number of tourists who break the rules and disrespect local culture as Bali continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We will no longer welcome mass tourism. We will restrict [tourist numbers] by implementing a quota system,” the official said. He explained that the system would require foreign travelers to register one year before their planned visit to Bali and to wait their turn to visit. 

“If there is a quota, then people will have to queue. Those who want to come next year, can sign up from now. That’s the system we want to apply,” the governor said. 

Koster noted that the system would be long-term and stressed that if the issue of visitors breaking the law wasn’t addressed, “we will only attract cheap tourists who maybe just eat nasi bungkus [rice dish wrapped in banana leaves or paper], rent motorbikes, and break [traffic laws], and, lastly, steal from ATMs.” 

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The governor announced plans in March to ban tourists from renting motorbikes on the island following a series of incidents in which foreigners violated traffic rules. He suggested that under new rules that are set to come into force this year, tourists would only be allowed to drive cars rented from travel agents. 

Koster has also asked the Indonesian government to cancel a visa-on-arrival policy for Ukrainians and Russians, citing concerns that citizens from the two countries were violating local laws, overstaying their visas, and illegally working as hairdressers, tour guides, and taxi drivers. 

Bali, once known as a laid-back destination for surfing enthusiasts, has recently seen a massive surge in tourism, jumping to over 300,000 travelers a month since the start of 2023. The island has especially attracted a large number of lifestyle bloggers, yoga instructors, and other online content creators, most of whom have traveled from Australia, India, and Russia. The sudden uptick in travelers has led to tensions with locals, who have complained of increased traffic, pollution, and a perceived lack of respect for local Hindu traditions and culture.

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