Bali considers permanently banning tourists from its sacred mountains

Woman enjoying sunrise from a top of mountain Batur, Bali, Indonesia.

Bali could soon ban travellers from climbing some of its mountains following a string of bad behaviour by tourists, according to the island’s governor.

Wayan Koster, the island’s governor, issued an “immediate effect” ban on tourist activities on Bali’s mountains to protect them. Bali’s islands are considered holy by the locals and the series of transgressions by unruly tourists has tested the patience of locals.

“These mountains are sacred and revered. If their sanctity is damaged, it is the same as degrading the sacredness of Bali,” Koster said to a news conference.

“This ban is in effect forever and is not only for foreign tourists but also domestic tourists and local residents… (with the exception of) religious ceremonies or the handling of natural disasters,” he added.

22 mountains will be impacted by the ban, including the popular tourist spots of Mount Batur and Mount Agung.

Mount Batur at sunrise in the morning (iStock/Nikada)

However this ban is not yet confirmed and would need to get approval by local parliament to be made into a formal law. The ban is still up for discussion according to Indonesian government officials.

“The issue of banning people from climbing mountains is still being discussed with several regional unit heads in the Bali regional government,” tourism minister Sandiaga Uno told reporters. “When it’s finalised, it will be (announced) by the governor of Bali,” according to CNN.

Speaking at the same conference was Bali tourism chief Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun who has backed the ban and said that local mountain guides would get work as contract workers when it comes into effect.

“We are offering solutions and won’t stop their endeavours,” Pemayun said.

The incidents spurring this decision have involved lewd acts by tourists on the sacred mountains. In 2021, Mount Batur was the site of a pornographic video and earlier this year a Russian visitor caused controversy on Mount Agung when he posted a semi-naked photo of himself in an “offering ceremony to the Gods,” getting himself expelled from Bali and given a six-month entry ban.

Alongside these bans, some travellers have found themselves in hot water recently with Balinese authorities as the island opens up to tourists post-pandemic.

To combat travel incidents, Balinese authorities have released their list of do’s and don’ts for tourists travelling to the island and those that break the rules could have their visa cancelled.

Featured Image: Woman enjoying sunrise from a top of mountain Batur, Bali, Indonesia. (iStock/kapulya)

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