Entitled tourists cause exasperation in Bali


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Last April, a video of a YouTuber wearing a fake “mask” went viral in Indonesia. The content creator had a fake mask painted on her face and entered a supermarket with her friend. Their prank was successful in the moment but they were later questioned by the authorities. The duo posted an apology video on Instagram, saying they didn’t intend to make fun of local rules. Rather, they said, their prank was meant to entertain people as it’s their “job” as content creators.

In December last year, an Instagram celebrity drove his motorbike into the ocean, violating a local environmental law that could lead to three years in prison. Further investigations revealed that the stunt was done in conjunction with a large party he had set up at the time. More than 50 people had attended the party, violating the restrictions on crowds. He apologized for his actions and was deported back to his homeland.

Bali struggles to find the right punishments to scare naughty foreigners. Weak punishments hardly have any effect on them; the fine applied for not wearing a mask in public places, for instance, is just IDR100,000 (about USD 6.7). Tourists would simply laugh it off and pay the measly amount. The officials have come up with more creative punishment, such as asking the rule breakers to do push-ups, but this has not been taken seriously either.

Anti-mask foreigners (tourists and expatriates) have argued that since “many locals” didn’t wear masks, they should not be forced to wear one. However, according to the officials, foreigners make up 80% of all health protocol violators.

Many foreigners think that they’re being specifically targeted by the authorities. Some believe that since it’s mostly locals who have caught the virus, the focus should be on disciplining the locals. They may forget (or they do not care) that a person can be a carrier of the virus without having any symptoms. They may not feel sick while still actively spreading the virus to the people around them.

The reason locals have been more obedient to Covid-19 rules is that not many of them want to waste a valuable IDR100,000 during these hard times. People are losing jobs and businesses, so it can take weeks to get that much money. Little money means limited budgets, which often leads to a decision to limit expenditure. A mask may not cost a lot of money for foreigners, but it means an additional expense for many affected locals. Foreigners who think they’re being specifically targeted have misunderstood the whole situation. They’re not in the same boat as most locals.

Those who have been living in Bali know that entitled tourists have been around for a long time. They would ignore local customs, commit crimes, and disrespect holy sites, knowing they would only receive a verbal warning or light punishment. Bali’s officials may be afraid of taking stern action against those tourists, fearing that they may upset them. They don’t want them to stop visiting Bali

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