With its postcard-worthy beaches and exotic Hindu temples, it’s no surprise that Bali ranked as the fourth most popular global romantic destination of 2022 in Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards. Last year, it was the number one global destination on Tripadvisor.
This tropical Southeast Asian island is much smaller than the state of Delaware, so it’s probably the best destination to go on a romantic getaway. Travelers think twice to visit this romantic destination.
On Tuesday, the Indonesian parliament passed a controversial revision of its criminal code. The new law has made sex outside of marriage punishable with a year in prison. The legislation will apply to both citizens and overseas visitors alike, but it is unclear how the law would be enforced.
Local Australian newspapers quickly adopted the phrase “Bali bonk ban” to refer to a new morality law. More than one million Australians visit Indonesia each year, and many of them head to Bali or other nearby destinations because it offers warm weather and beautiful beaches.
The Indonesian Parliament is awaiting the expected ratification by President Joko Widodo to come into effect within the next three years. The law also reins in free speech, reinstating a ban on insulting a sitting president and other officials. If an individual insults the Indonesian president, they could face up to three years in jail as punishment.
The new legislation seems likely to make the country a less desirable tourist destination, and has caused international human rights activists to speak out in concern.
The U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, Sung Y. Kim, recently suggested at the AmCham Investment Summit that the new legislation could dampen interest in doing business in the country. “Criminalizing the personal decisions of individuals would loom large within the decision matrix of many companies determining whether to invest in Indonesia,” he said.
The Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch tweeted, “Passage of Indonesia’s rights-abusing criminal code outlawing sex out of wedlock is what I’m hearing at the resort I just attended a conference in. Why is Jokowi and his government trying to ruin the country’s tourism?”
Passage of #Indonesia's rights abusing criminal code that outlaws sex out of wedlock will blow up #Bali's tourism industry is what I'm hearing at the resort where I'm staying for a just completed conference. Why is @jokowi & his government trying to ruin the country's tourism? pic.twitter.com/EVxIxsxdx5— Phil Robertson (@Reaproy) December 6, 2022
Indonesia is open to tourists! Effective March 21, the country reopened to international visitors after two years of closing its borders during the pandemic. Foreigners have the same requirements as Indonesian citizens, which are that they be double-vaccinated against Covid-19; take a test for the virus before departure and arrival; and carry health insurance that covers at least $15,000 in medical expenses.
Recently, the World Travel & Tourism Council predicted that Indonesia’s tourism industry will create five million new jobs and contribute $118 billion to its GDP over the next decade.
As Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said following the recent World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) research visit to Indonesia: “We commend the Indonesian government for putting travel and tourism at the forefront of the global agenda at the upcoming G20.”
Indonesia is worried that the new laws might affect the country’s tourism industry. Maulana Yusran, the deputy chief of Indonesia’s tourism board, called the law “totally counterproductive.”