Tourists behaving badly have prompted authorities in Bali, Indonesia to consider a slate of new rules aimed at unruly visitors. The Indonesian island has become one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, attracting more than 5 million visitors in 2017. Bali is known for its stunning black sand beaches, diverse marine life, and its’ remarkable Hindu temples, some of which date to the 11th Century.
Many of the new guidelines will target tourists visiting the country’s famed temples. Bali deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Sukawati said that it’s important to maintain the integrity of the island’s sacred sites. He stated, “This is the government’s attempt to maintain the Pura [temples]. The temples need to be preserved since they are the spirits of Bali’s cultures and customs.”
The move would not be out of the ordinary. Many of the world’s famous sacred sites have rules regulating tourist behavior and dress code. The new regulations have not yet been released. However, the Balinese government is reportedly considering measures as extreme as not allowing visitors to tour the sites without the supervision of a local guide.
Tourists posing beside sacred temples for Instagram photos while improperly attired has drawn particular ire from authorities on the Indonesian island. A photo of a Danish tourist sitting on a Hindu deity’s throne at the sacred Pura Luhur Batukaru temple that recently went viral prompted an investigation by local authorities. The shrine is reserved for the most important deity in Balinese Hinduism and to sit on it is highly offensive.
Other offensive images taken at holy sites in the past years include a woman who did a yoga pose in a bikini in front of an ancient temple. People that behave improperly at the temples could be accused of blasphemy and arrested. Blasphemy is a crime in Indonesia and those convicted could face a variety of punishments based on the severity of the crime.