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While Bali waited two years to welcome back tourists with reduced restrictions, the island was given a chance to restore some balance after its constant onslaught of tourists turning up at its doors.
Before the pandemic, more than 6.3 million people visited Bali in 2019, but when that stopped, the country suffered badly as much of its revenue relies heavily on tourism.
The environment, on the other hand, was able to heal. Sound pollution was kept to a minimum and the once congested streets were left bare.
As the borders began to open, Bali was once again flooded with tourists – but not always the good ones.
In February and March this year, more than 170 foreigners broke traffic rules, including drunk driving and speeding. Motorcycles are one of the main modes of transportation in Bali, and as tourists who want to enjoy the local experience, they choose to rent motorcycles under more lenient rules and with little experience.
Bali provides ample opportunity for tourists to have experiences that they would not normally be able to enjoy in their home countries as the country adopts a more lax approach to certain safety standards.
As the country celebrated the return of tourists after such an economically impressive shutdown, locals couldn’t help but remember the days when things were a little calmer and safer.
In an attempt to restore some of the balance that was achieved during the lockout, the government decided to ban tourists from renting motorbikes.
It seems the country has had enough of the reckless behavior tourists engage in while riding them, so this new rule will be implemented later this year.
Bali’s governor, Iwayan Koster, is urging tourists to behave like tourists and use cars booked through travel agencies instead of motorbikes.
He explained that some of the bad behaviors on motorbikes include riding without T-shirts and clothes, not wearing a helmet, breaking traffic rules and driving without a license – all of which pose a safety risk to locals and other passengers.
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Bali is predominantly Hindu, and due to its heavy tourist presence, the island is known to have more relaxed restrictions, but it is still in a Muslim-majority country and should mirror the mainland.
Earlier this year, Indonesia took the controversial decision to ban premarital affairs and cohabitation outside of marriage, although it was noted that this would not affect tourists.
Even if this law does not apply to tourists, the country takes a firmer stance on preserving its traditional roots, despite the presence of rowdy and obscene tourists who have become a staple of the Bali scene.
Tourists are known to dislike Indonesia’s more conservative approach, and as tensions between locals and tourists grow, the country is making efforts to exercise more control.
Last year, the government made an example of two influencers who defied the country’s mask orders by painting masks on their faces with blue paint and entering a grocery store.
The two influencers were widely criticized by locals and foreigners and the authorities decided to deport them.
Meanwhile, after locals experienced a much quieter period without bars and clubs playing music until the early hours of the morning, there have been more recent calls to keep noise levels under control.
More than 8,000 locals signed a Change.org petition last year in the party district of Canggu and surrounding areas, complaining of noise that was compared to “worse than an earthquake”.
The petition urged tourists to behave disrespectfully and indecently, with drunkenness, sexual acts and urinating on temple walls in the area.
After the Change.org petition, a meeting was called and officials announced a requirement for bars to limit noise to 70 decibels and close by 1 a.m.but local residents are still waiting to see how they will be implemented, as this decision is already included in Indonesia’s environmental law.
There are reports of some changes in some areas, while other places continue to play music late. It seems it’s not just the locals complaining, as some blogs and articles have popped up asking if Bali is still worth it.
Last year, Bali launched a 10-year tourist visa that targets higher-net-worth visitors. One of the requirements states that the visa holder must have $128,554 USD in their bank account, while the 6-month digital nomad visa requires $2,000.
With some of these recent changes, it seems that Bali is now aiming for an equal environment – a destination that encourages tourists to visit but also respects local customs and safety standards.
It will be a matter of time before these changes continue, but locals hope the new rules and requirements will curb some of the bad behavior Bali has built a reputation for.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com