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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Bali plans to ban touring bikes for bad behavior

The Indonesian island of Bali plans to ban foreign tourists from renting motorbikes after a series of incidents where people violated traffic rules.

“They [should] not ride motorbikes around the island without wearing clothes or clothes, without helmets and even without a driver’s license,” said Governor I Wayan Koster.

Instead, tourists must use the vehicle provided by the travel agency.

The plan sparked controversy as tourism continues to recover from Covid losses.

More than 171 foreign nationals violated traffic regulations from late February to early March, according to local police records. Some tourists also use fake number plates.

“If you are a tourist, act like a tourist,” said the Governor.

Foreign tourists in Bali often prefer to rent motorbikes to get around the island, which does not have a well-developed public transportation system. Two-wheelers are an excellent option for getting in and out of traffic and navigating scenic back roads.

The proposed ban will be implemented through local law sometime this year, but it is unclear how it will be implemented.

One Ukrainian tourist – who asked not to be named – said foreigners should be “given free” to ride motorbikes as long as they present a valid driver’s license.

“We don’t use the services of a travel agency because we want to be independent and like to do things ourselves so we can feel the atmosphere,” he told BBC Indonesia.

Finnish tourist Kristo, on the other hand, supports the proposed ban. “Many motorists pretend to be drunk and don’t wear helmets. It’s hazardous,” he told the Indonesian news website detik.

However, some operators have raised concerns about the impact on business.

Dedek Varjana, chairman of the Bali Motorbike Rental Association, said the proposal was premature and authorities should respond to specific violations rather than imposing a blanket ban.

Allowing foreign tourists to rent only cars could exacerbate congestion, he said.

Such a ban could also damage Indonesia’s reputation in the eyes of other countries, said Nioman Sukma Arida, tourism lecturer at Udayana University in Bali.

He said the increasing number of traffic violations also shows the weak enforcement of existing rules by local authorities.

He suggested strengthening the car rental system, e.g., B. Ensuring tenants have a valid driver’s license, requiring security deposits, and taking action against drivers who violate regulations.

After all, not all passengers behaved severely, he said.

The governor also announced plans to revoke arrival visas for tourists from Russia and Ukraine for violations. He said many people from both sides “went to Bali” during the war but did not comply with local regulations.

In the past week, authorities have arrested several Russian citizens for violating their residence permits. Some have also misused visitor visas to set up businesses.

Tourism accounted for around 60% of Bali’s annual GDP before the pandemic. According to the provincial statistics office, Australia was the largest source of foreign tourists to Bali in January 2023, with more than 91,000 Australians landing there. Russia comes in second, with around 22,000 nationals visiting the province this month.

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