Bali Enacts Travel Restriction

Bali bans citizens and visitors from having intimate relationships outside of marriage.

Bali, Indionesia

Bali, Indionesia

by Arian Gil

International travelers have flocked to the popular resort island, Bali, prompting hopes that Indonesia’s battered tourism industry is on the road to recovery.

But this month, controversial new laws were passed that ban cohabitation and sexual relations outside of  marriage. The laws will apply not just to residents but also to foreign expats and tourists in the country. Although the changes are not expected to kick in for at least another three years, there is concern that the new criminal code will put foreigners off from visiting the island and starve the economy of vital tourism revenues.

In 2019, more than 16 million people visited Indonesia. While the law would technically apply to locals and foreigners, officials have tried to play down fears of tourists being prosecuted.

“Bali is Bali as usual, which is comfortable and safe to be visited,” said Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Visitors will not be required to prove their marital status, and local officials will not carry out checks, Mr Koster said. Indonesia’s deputy justice minister promised foreigners would not be prosecuted. “I want to emphasize for foreign tourists, please come to Indonesia because you will not be charged,” said Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights.

The government also points out that according to the new criminal code, extra-marital sex and cohabitation offenses would only be prosecuted if reported by a spouse, parent or child. The provision makes it unlikely that tourists will be affected, officials insist.