Bali is worried the quality of its tourists is declining — and it’s considering tough new rules to stop offensive behaviour.
Sick of Western tourists climbing on holy sites or disrespectfully posing for photos in skimpy swimwear, authorities on Bali, known as “the island of 1000 temples”, are considering tough new restrictions on tourists’ access to those sacred areas.
And it could mean tourists will be banned from visiting Hindu temples unaccompanied, Bali’s deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Sukawati, known as Cok Ace, said.
“The quality of tourists is now different from before,” he said at a recent regional council meeting.
“It is because we are too open with tourists, so too many come.”
Bali’s annual visitor intake reached five million in 2017.
But with them have come increased bad behaviour, and Cok Ace said in coming weeks the regional council would be rethinking what tourists could and couldn’t do around Bali’s Hindu temples.
That may include no longer letting tourists visit the temples unaccompanied.
“This is the government’s attempt to maintain the Pura (temples),” Cok Ace said.
“The temples need to be preserved since they are the spirits of Bali’s cultures and customs.”
His comments appeared to be prompted by a recent viral photo of a Danish tourist sitting on the holy Linggih Padmasana shrine at Puhur Luhur Batukaru temple.
The tourist can be seen squatting on the throne, which is supposed to be left vacant for Balinese Hinduism’s most important deity.
“A few times in Ayutthaya, while visiting the historical city ruins district with my wife, we saw tourists fail to comply with the rules of etiquette,” he told news.com.au.
“We saw tourists climbing on ancient walls, not wearing proper attire even after being told by ticket sellers or whatnot, being in spots to take photos that were not permitted.”
Authorities at Cambodia’s sacred Angkor Wat site imposed strict dress codes on tourists in 2016, which outlawed exposed knees and shoulders.
The crackdown followed a series of “nude photographs” at the Buddhist site.
The same year, India’s tourism minister told female tourists to stop wearing short dresses, skirts and other “skimpy” clothes to protect their safety.
“Indian culture is different from Western culture,” Mahesh Sharma said.
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