Bali is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world for tourists seeking a carefree and relaxed paradise.
Australians in particular flock to the island for its incredible scenery, lively nightlife, affordable accommodation and cheap food, with approximately 91,000 travelers visiting the vacation spot as of January 2023.
However, the tropical destination has also had a growing number of tourists flouting the rules and customs and wreaking havoc on the locals.
Balinese officials announced that they would crack down on poorly dressed and ill-mannered travelers, especially Russian and Ukrainian tourists and not the Australian ‘Bali Bogan’.
Russians have become the second largest group of visitors to the island, behind Australians, after Bali reopened its borders and welcomed an influx of travelers fleeing the Russia-Ukraine war.
Bali officials are urging the government not to allow Russian and Ukrainian tourist visas upon arrival (Pictured, file image of tourists watching the sunset at Batu Belig beach in northern Kuta, Bali)
Initially, Russian travelers were welcomed in Bali until a series of desecrations and criminal behavior were blamed on the nationality, including an influencer posing nude next to a sacred tree and tourists working illegally.
At a press conference in Denpasar this month, Bali Governor Wayan Koster said that Russians and Ukrainians were the two nationalities that accounted for the largest number of criminals among foreigners.
Koster urged the central government to withdraw visa-on-arrival privileges for Russian and Ukrainian tourists so they cannot enter the country.
‘Why these two countries? Because they are at war, they flock here,” Koster said.
“Many of them come to Bali, not for pleasure, but to find comfort, even to work.”
The Visa on Arrival program allows foreign travelers from more than 80 countries to visit Indonesia for 30 days.
The visa is around $50 and is strictly for tourism only.
Violation of the visa terms can result in fines of $100 per day, detention, deportation, or a ban from entering Indonesia for a period of time.
Approximately 22,500 Russian tourists visited Bali in January 2023, with nearly 60,000 flocking to the island following its post-Covid reopening.
Bali has also seen an influx of young men since Russia declared a partial mobilization of military reservists in September last year.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster said Russians and Ukrainians were the two nationalities with the highest number of rapes among foreigners. The move is part of Bali’s crackdown on tourists who break the rules, including riding a motorcycle without a helmet (pictured)
However, Ukrainians on the island claim they are being unfairly targeted as most crimes involve Russian tourists.
“Ukrainians respect the law and Balinese culture…we don’t pose any risk to Bali people…It’s very sad that Ukrainians are in the same (category) as Russians,” a Ukrainian man named Dmytro.
‘If you read the news, you will see how often Russians break local laws and don’t respect Balinese culture and tradition. So why do Ukrainians have to suffer when we are not the ones causing the problems in Bali?’
The spokesman for the Ukrainian Honorary Consulate in Bali, Nyoman Astama, told CNN that of the 8,500 Ukrainians on the island, the majority are women with various temporary and permanent visa permits.
“Ukrainians are not coming to Bali for vacations right now as our country is being invaded,” Ms. Astama said.
“Ukrainians who come to Bali now are for family unification (reasons) and are mostly women. We reaffirm that Ukrainians in Bali do not want to violate the rules and regulations.
“It is imperative to enforce the law and implement the consequences of any breach of the law as now expressed by the people in Bali.”
A 28-year-old from Moscow was deported in March after authorities accused him of working as a photographer while on an investment visa. He paraded in front of local media with a black hood pulled over his head, a practice reserved for suspected drug offenders (pictured)
A police officer in Kuta said foreign nationals believed they were above the law, referring to cases of drunken and disorderly behavior, and criminal offences, committed by Russian tourists.
“Whenever we receive reports of bad behavior from a foreigner, it is almost always Russian,” the police officer said. CNN.
“Foreigners come to Bali but they behave like they are above the law. This has always been the case and it finally has to stop.’
In February, a Russian tourist was caught riding under the influence of alcohol after colliding with a local cyclist, resulting in the Bali man being hospitalized.
The holiday destination was also marred by a fatal motorcycle accident in January, when a Ukrainian visitor and a Russian tourist were killed in a highway collision.
A specialized task force made up of police officers and officials was established in March that focuses on finding and prosecuting undocumented workers.
On March 19, a Russian tourist named Yuri sparked outrage after he shared a photo of himself with his pants around his ankles atop the holy Mount Agung (pictured)
Yuri issued an apology on social media and in person to Bali officials. He also participated in a ceremonial offering to the gods to show his remorse (pictured) before being deported.
In its first week, the task force arrested six Russian tourists — three sex workers, two motorcycle riding instructors and a tennis coach — and issued deportation orders after discovering they were working illegally.
A 28-year-old from Moscow was also deported in early March after authorities accused him of working as a photographer while on an investment visa.
The officers paraded the Russian national in front of local media with a black hood pulled over his head, a practice reserved for suspected drug offenders.
A Russian tourist named Yuri sparked outrage on March 19 after he shared a photo of himself with his pants around his ankles atop the holy Mount Agung.
Yuri, who goes by the Instagram handle Chila Brazila, removed the image and issued a slavish apology to officials in person and on social media.
He participated in a ceremonial offering to the gods to show his remorse before being deported.
Russian Alina Fazleeva and her husband Amdrei Fazleev (left) were deported from Bali and banned from returning to the island for six months last year after taking nude photos next to a 700-year-old sacred tree (right).
It comes after Russian influencer Alina Fazleeva was deported from Bali last year after posing nude next to a sacred 700-year-old banyan tree.
Ms. Fazleeva and her husband, who took the photos in 2019, were deported and banned from entering Indonesia for six months.
Officials also announced plans to ban all foreign tourists from riding motorcycles in Bali and launched an official campaign to crack down on tourists’ behavior and how they dress.