Bali Governor Wayan Koster says authorities do not check the marital status of those checking into tourist accommodations.
Bali’s governor has insisted visitors should not worry about a controversial ban on sex outside of marriage, dismissing concerns Indonesia’s revised criminal code will depress the recovery of the resort island’s lucrative tourism industry.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster said in a statement on Sunday that people can only be prosecuted for sex outside of marriage after a complaint from a parent, spouse or child, a provision added to a stricter bill to “protect everyone’s privacy and comfort to guarantee”.
Wayan said foreign tourists and residents “do not need to worry” about the revised laws and authorities would not check the marital status of people entering tourist accommodations.
The governor also criticized what he said were “hoax” reports of travelers canceling flights and hotel bookings and warned against “false statements that would upset the situation”, saying data from travel agents and airlines showed that the Number of visitors is set. increase next year.
The governor’s remarks come as Bali, a predominantly Hindu island in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, tries to attract tourists after the COVID-19 pandemic caused arrivals to drop from 6.3 million in 2019 to just dozens in 2021.
Tourism groups, including the Association of The Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies and the Indonesian Hotel & Restaurant Association, have expressed concern about the law, while Australia, the biggest source of foreign tourists, said it “continues to seek clarity” about how its citizens might be affected.
Gary Bowerman, director of Kuala Lumpur-based travel and tourism research firm Check-in Asia, said despite authorities’ assurances, tourism is heavily dependent on perception.
“Therefore, destinations spend millions of dollars on campaigns to promote their attractiveness and uniqueness to visitors. The new criminal code could inspire a negative perception, not only for fear of personal safety, but also for travelers concerned about the rights of local people ,” Bowerman told Al Jazeera.
“The important thing to remember is that tourists have choices. If they feel that the new criminal code gives reasons not to visit Indonesia, they can book to go elsewhere. This is not a luxury shared by local people are those affected by the new criminal code.
The sex ban follows a sweeping overhaul of Indonesia’s criminal code, which was passed by parliament last week.
Officials hailed the passage of the code, which had been stalled for decades, as a step to bring the country’s colonial-era laws “in line with Indonesian values”.
The United Nations, human rights groups and press freedom advocates have criticized the code, claiming it violates basic human rights and disproportionately harms women, religious minorities and LGBTQ people.
In addition to the ban on sex outside marriage, the code also bans apostasy and makes it a crime to insult the president, state institutions, the national flag and the state philosophy of Pancasila.