Bali wants to ban tourists from riding motorbikes
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Bali wants to ban tourists from renting motorcycles, saying it has had enough of foreign travellers “roaming around with motorbikes, without wearing T-shirts and clothes, with no helmets, violating [traffic rules].”
Instead, governor Wayan Koster said that tourists would only be allowed to rent cars from a travel agency or local tourism service.
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It comes amid a backlash against motorbike-riding tourists on the Indonesian island, where police say more than 171 foreign nationals violated traffic orders in the first two weeks of March alone (from late February to early March). Some tourists also use fake licence plates, police said.
“If you are a tourist, then act like a tourist,” said the governor in a press conference this week.
He added that tourists are “disorderly and they misbehave” and claimed the ban would help meet standards to “ensure quality and dignified tourism”.
“[Tourists should] use the vehicles prepared by travel agents, instead of roaming around with motorbikes, without wearing T-shirts and clothes, with no helmets, violating [traffic rules], and even without a licence,” he said.
Head of Bali regional police, inspector general of police, Putu Jayan Danu Putra, emphasised the need to ensure tourists also follow the rules when renting cars.
“We provide education to rental vehicles that will be rented out to foreigners to always comply with existing traffic rules,” he explained.
News and videos have been widely shared on social media in recent years of foreign tourists flouting road rules in Bali. They include a clip of a Russian Instagrammer who flew his motorbike off a dock as part of a stunt in 2020. An Australian woman was also filmed — and widely shared — shouting at police after they stopped her for riding a motorbike without a helmet.
There have also been fatalities. In April, Englishman Michael Andrew, 36, was found dead in a swamp with his scooter after reportedly visiting a nightclub in the Legian area, South Kuta, Badun. There is no evidence, however, that he broke any laws before his death and is believed to have been the victim of a road accident.
More recently, a Ukrainian man died after losing control of his motorbike in January 2023, before a Russian man was killed in a moto-collision with a local person while drunk.
Time will tell if the new rule will deter tourists from visiting the island, which is banking on tourism aiding its bounceback after a bruising pandemic. Tourism traditionally contributes to around 80% of Bali’s economy.
“Further study is needed; we will then correct the wrongs,” Bali’s deputy governor, Tjok Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, told local media. “All this time, seeing the riders that I have observed on the ground, they can rent without having a licence, which then leads to troubles.”
Last year, more than 2.1 million tourists arrived through the island’s international, compared to 6.2 million 2019, according to Ngurah Rai Immigration Office. But while that may seem a fraction of pre-pandemic times, it reflects a significant jump from the 34 people who arrived on the island in 2021.
Of the 2.1 million foreign visitors in 2022, almost a third were Australian (626,783 people), followed by tourists from India (184,702), Singapore (137,470), the U.K. (130,312) and the U.S. (111,495).
Bali has also fast become a haven for displaced Russians and Ukrainians fleeing the war their countries are fighting at home. Russians now make up one of the biggest groups of foreign visitors to Indonesia — about ten times the number of Ukrainians — many of whom sought refuge from the economic fallout of the war and the threat of conscription.
According to figures compiled by Bali’s international airport, roughly 20,000 Russians have been arriving in Bali each month since the Kremlin declared a partial mobilisation of military reservists in September.
As a result, the governor has announced a plan to revoke visa-on-arrival permits for tourists from Russia and Ukraine because of misconduct. People from the two countries have “flocked to Bali” but are not abiding by local regulations, he said.
“Why these two countries? These two are at war, so it is unsafe in their country, and they flock to Bali. Many of them come to Bali, not for leisure, but to find comfort, including for work,” Koster was quoted as saying in local media.
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