Officials in Bali are seeking to rein in some Western tourists’ apparent penchant for posing disrespectfully near the Indonesian island’s ancient Hindu temples.
Local politicians are complaining that Bali has experienced a significant decline in the “quality of tourists” coming to visit, the Guardian reported.
Bali’s deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, known as Cok Ace, has pledged to take action against a supposed increase in disrespectful tourists. The government will be re-evaluating whether to allow tourists to visit the island’s temples unaccompanied, he added.
“It is because we are too open with tourists, so too many come, and indeed the quality of tourists is now different from before,” Cok Ace said during a regional council meeting on Monday.
HuffPost’s reached out to Bali’s official tourism board.
According to local Balinese news websites, the government announcement comes after a Danish tourist squatted on top of a throne-shaped shrine at the Pura Luhur Batukaru temple, an important pilgrimage site. The incident was photographed and went viral. According to the religion, the sacred throne is meant to be left empty for Balinese Hinduism’s most important deity.
Blasphemy is a crime in Indonesia. Officials are still trying to locate the tourist who took the photo.
Earlier this year, social media users criticized a Spanish vlogger after he took a video of himself climbing up a temple structure. Balinese netizens tracked him down, and he later issued an apology, according to Coconuts Bali.
And in 2016, Balinese Hindus were upset after an Instagram photo emerged of a young bikini-clad woman doing a “downward facing dog” yoga pose across the door of a temple.
Bali, a popular tourist destination, is known for its stunning black sand beaches, diverse marine life and hundreds of ancient temples. It is also home to a large Hindu population, while the rest of the country is predominantly Muslim.
The industry took a hit late last year when a volcano erupted in northeast Bali, forcing the evacuation of about 100,000 people who lived near the summit. The volcano has quieted down since then but has continued to show signs of activity.
Despite the fact that the volcano disrupted the lives of thousands of locals, some tourists took the eruption as an opportunity to snap dramatic Instagram photos. Balinese online also widely criticized these photos.
Even though there are a number of troubles facing Bali’s tourism industry, Cok Ace has said that it’s important to maintain the integrity of the island’s sacred sites.
“This is the government’s attempt to maintain the Pura [temples],” he said. “The temples need to be preserved since they are the spirits of Bali’s cultures and customs.”