The Bali Backpacker Ban and What You Should Know About It

The Bali Backpacker Ban and What You Should Know About It

How would it eventually change Bali’s tourism landscape?

The number of tourist-related incidents in Bali has made the world-renowned island a hot topic outside its majestic views. From travellers wearing fake face masks and those apparently shooting pornography inside their Bali villa, it makes one think: Should the island finally choose which tourists can enter the island and push for a Bali backpacker ban?

How the Bali backpacker ban came about

It was in early September 2021 when Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan sparked the possibility of forbidding a select group of tourists from visiting Indonesia’s paradise island. Pandjaitan is the country’s Maritime and Investment Coordinator Minister who plays a critical role in Indonesia’s fight against COVID-19.

“We’ll aim for quality tourism in Bali, so we won’t allow backpackers to enter once the reopening plan for international travelers is officially put in place in the near future,” Pandjaitan said via The Bali Sun, after visiting the island in the same month. There was no mention whatsoever of what he considered quality tourism. Or, of how Balinese authorities would implement such a move if it were to materialise.

Also read: 7 Real-Life Violations of Travellers in Foreign Countries

Shortly after his initial statement, which drew flak from a number of foreign travellers, Pandjaitan clarified that by “backpackers,” he only meant travellers who will potentially violate the island’s safety rules and other protocols. That being said, Bali will still be open to all kinds of tourists provided they meet travel requirements for Bali.

Aside from the face mask and porn villa events, there have also been other issues involving shoestring travellers. For one, some travellers managed to enter and stay illegally on the island despite strict border closures and restrictions. Others even ended up organising large group events (e.g. yoga sessions) even while local laws prevented it, among other things.

Bali Resort

Image credit: Ern Gan

The outcomes of prohibiting budget travellers

Despite the issue being cleared out, the question still remains: Would the island actually benefit from being stricter with tourists? How would it eventually change Bali’s tourism landscape? Are there other alternatives?

According to Jan (not real name), banning backpackers can do more harm than good for the island. “It would be difficult to totally ban foreign backpackers since they make up a significant number of tourists on the island,” the traveller said. Given that they tend to book local accommodations and services, Bali’s tourism sector could end up suffering rather than improving.

Also read: 5 Ways You Can Support the Local Tourism Scene After COVID-19

The same sentiments were echoed by Maria (not real name). She also added that to boost local tourism further, the island can benefit from positive testimonials from these travellers. “Most travellers aren’t really interested in hearing about how affluent people were able to successfully travel during the time of COVID without getting the virus,” she told TripZilla. “They are more interested in the stories of budget travellers who have limited resources and yet were able to come out COVID-free.”

Instead of imposing a total Bali backpacker ban, both travellers agree that the island’s local government may as well enhance their security measures for international arrivals. Not to mention, being stricter with penalties towards non-law-abiding visitors. Depending on the gravity of an offence, these should range from imposing fines to deportation.

Do you think Bali should prohibit backpackers and budget travellers in the long run?

Featured image credit: Artem Bali via Canva Pro

About Author

Joser Ferreras
Joser Ferreras

Joser is a senior writer for TripZilla based in Manila, Philippines. He mostly covers travel, people, and business.