In Indonesia, a video is making the rounds these days, which shows a foreigner on a scooter without a helmet at a police check. The woman, who is wearing a pink full-body gym suit, a backpack and headphones, loudly drives at the policeman in Indonesian. "There are rules here," the officer replies in English. Meanwhile, the woman tries to maneuver past the Indonesian with her motorized two-wheeler. Most commentators agreed that the Australian, like many foreigners, probably felt that she did not have to abide by the laws in force in Indonesia.

Till Fähnders

Political correspondent for Southeast Asia.

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The great response to the video shows that Indonesians have had enough of foreign tourists who do not abide by the rules and disregard customs. As complaints and problems pile up, the authorities have now also announced measures to curb the negative excesses of the tourist business, which is reviving after the Covid doldrums. Bali's governor Wayan Koster announced that tourists from abroad should no longer be allowed to rent a scooter in Bali in the future.

171 traffic violations in one week

The harsh measure has a serious background. Earlier, police in Bali reported that they had detected 171 traffic violations by foreign tourists in one week. Many of them are traveling without helmets and with fake license plates. "You shouldn't ride motorcycles around the island, without shirts and clothes, without a helmet and without a driver's license," the governor told the local press. Rather, they should be on the buses and cars provided for them: "If you are a tourist, then behave like this!"

Bali is apparently also affected by the high number of tourists from Russia and Ukraine, who have chosen the island as a retreat in times of war. In January, a Russian and a Ukrainian died after accidents. In March, a Russian man drunk on his motorcycle collided with a local driver, after which he had to be taken to hospital.

Outrage over the behaviour of tourists

Already in 2020, a Russian Instagram star had caused trouble when he let a motorcycle drive from a jetty into a harbor basin and published the video of the stunt. The governor had previously asked the immigration authorities not to issue visas on arrival to these two nationalities. He justified the demand with the fact that many of them worked in Bali and thus disregarded their visa requirements. Tourists who cause offence in their host country, however, are certainly of every nationality.

For some time, the islanders have been complaining about inappropriate behavior. In Bali, tourists had posed naked in temples in the past or filmed themselves having sex on a sacred mountain. During the pandemic, some of them had disregarded hygiene rules. Recently, some tourists had protested in a petition against crowing roosters.

The indignation was great in each case. In many other cases, the locals are accommodating, also because many of them depend on tourism. Last year, 2.3 million tourists came to Bali from abroad. This year, the industry is hoping for a doubling of the number.

In fact, it is not yet clear what the ban will look like and how it will be enforced. The governor suggested that tourists should have their visas revoked in case of violations. A corresponding regional law is to be passed before the end of this year. But there is also resistance to the plan. Indonesia's Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno warned that the consequences for tourism should first be weighed. The rental of scooters and motorcycles also brings income and jobs with it.