Bali now says it has no plans to ban backpackers when it reopens to tourists

Sep 22, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. 

The Indonesian government is doing a bit of public relations damage control after a government official reportedly said that Bali planned to ban backpackers and budget travelers when it reopened its borders to foreign guests. Now that same official is saying it was a matter of miscommunication and that no such ban will be implemented.

The comments came during a virtual press conference last week. According to the Bali Sun, Maritime and Investment Coordinator Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan stated the following when discussing Bali’s plan to reopen for tourists:

“We’ll aim for quality tourism in Bali, so we won’t allow backpackers to enter once the reopening plan for international travelers is officially put in place in the near future.”

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In a statement given to Lonely Planet, a representative for the minister described it as a “misunderstanding.” According to the spokesperson, the minister meant to say, “visitors who violate health rules and regulations, laws and immigration regulations in Indonesia [will not be allowed to enter].”

**The Points Guy has reached out to the Indonesian government for comment. We will update the story once we hear from them.**

The government spokesperson reiterated that all foreign visitors and tourists can visit Bali once the borders are reopened, provided they adhere to protocols. No specific target date has been given for when Bali, a popular destination for travelers across the economic spectrum, will relax restrictions to allow tourists back in.

Indonesian authorities had planned to reopen in late July, but a spike in coronavirus cases derailed that strategy. Reuters reports that Bali has eased restrictions for international visitors, but all incoming tourists still must take three PCR tests before being allowed onto the island and then quarantine for a minimum of eight days upon arrival. Visitors must also be fully vaccinated and present proof on a phone app verified by the government.

No doubt the news that Bali isn’t going to actually consider any type of ban or other limitations on backpackers will come as a relief for many travelers. Backpackers tend to fall in the “budget traveller” category, and Bali has been a magnet for such low-frills tourists for years. Who can blame them? The lush tropical setting, seductive beaches and emphasis on health and wellness activities make Bali bucket list-worthy even if you can’t pay for one of the island’s many high-end resorts.

Bali’s location in Southeast Asia also makes it relatively easy to get to, another reason why backpackers flock to the island. Blocking such visitors to the island — even if they could figure out how to do it — would appear to be a self-defeating move for a destination that no doubt wants to resume the lucrative tourism industry that is so important to the island’s bottom line.

It’s not completely unheard of, however, as many destinations that offer beautiful and delicate environments are considering ways to balance the commercial demands of mass tourism against environmental and quality-of-life concerns.

Featured photo by Biletskiy_Evgeniy/Getty Images.

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