The Indonesian island of Bali plans to ban tourists from renting motorbikes after a series of incidents in which foreigners have violated traffic rules.
Bali’s governor, Wayan Koster, said that underchanges to be imposed this year, foreigners would only be allowed to drive cars rented from travel agents.
“As tourists, [you should] act as tourists, using 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.
Koster said the policy was aimed at tackling disorderliness as the tourism sector recovers from the pandemic. “Why now? Because we are currently tidying up, [as] during the Covid-19 pandemic we couldn’t have possibly done that because there were no tourists,” he said in comments quoted by the Kompas news outlet.
Bali drew 6.2 million foreign visitors in 2019, and the island’s economy relies on their spending. But local people’s patience with tourists has been tested by frequent reports of unlawful or disrespectful behaviour, including on the roads.
Videos and reports of unruly or offending drivers have been shared widely on social media over recent years. They include a clip of a Russian Instagrammer who launched his motorbike off a dock as part of a stunt in 2020. More recently, a woman who was reportedly a foreign resident was filmed arguing with police officers who appeared to have stopped her for not wearing a helmet.
Accidents, some fatal, have been reported over recent months. In March, a Russian man was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving on his motorbike, after he collided with a local driver, according to media in Bali. He and the other driver were both hospitalised. In January, a Ukrainian and a Russian citizen died in separate incidents, it was reported.
The details of the plan to ban tourists from renting motorbikes are yet to be determined. “Further study is needed, we will then correct the wrongs. 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,” Bali’s deputy governor, Tjok Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, was quoted as saying in local media.
There is concern about the impact a ban could have on the tourism sector, including on bike rental businesses, which were badly hit by the pandemic.
Koster has also asked the government to cancel a visa-on-arrival policy for Ukrainians and Russians, citing concerns that citizens of the two countries were violating local laws and regulations. This follows reports about foreigners working illegally on tourist visas.
Russians make up one of the biggest groups of foreign visitors to Indonesia, and many stayed in Bali during the pandemic and after the invasion of Ukraine.
The law and human rights ministry has yet to decide whether to tighten visa rules for any nationality.
Ardila Syakriah contributed to this report