Travelers coming to Bali may need to prepare for changes affecting their on-island travel in the coming months. During a press briefing on March 12, Bali governor I Wayan Koster announced foreign tourists will be unable to rent motorbikes to get around the island starting this year. Instead, the governor is urging foreigners to rent cars and use other transportation services “to ensure quality and dignified tourism.”
Koster didn’t specify how the government will enforce the ban on motorbikes or the consequences of such action during the Sunday briefing. However, he said those riding motorcycles without valid paperwork, driving recklessly, using fake Indonesian ID cards, or abusing residence and work permits would be targeted.
“We considered [the decision to impose the ban] according to the security aspect, especially traffic safety, because many foreign tourists are not completely skilled in riding motorbikes and do not have motorbike driving licenses,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said on Wednesday.
The announcement comes after a trend of incidents involving tourists and motorbikes. According to Bali Police’s Traffic Directorate official Rahmawaty Ismail, foreign tourists were involved in 68 traffic accidents throughout 2022. The misuse of motorbikes on the island has been well-documented—in 2020, Russian influencer Sergey Kosenko notably came under scrutiny after driving a motorcycle into the ocean with a friend in Bali’s Tanah Ampo port.
Other controversial laws and bans
Koster also talked about putting other limitations in place during the March 12 briefing, including a plan to revoke visa-on-arrival permits for Russians and Ukrainians after reports of misconduct. The governor said he contacted the Foreign Ministry and the Law and Human Rights Ministry and requested the visa facility be revoked for tourists from the two countries. Koster attributed some of the problems to be with undocumented workers.
“These two are at war, so it is unsafe in their country, and they flock to Bali. Many of them come to Bali, not for leisure, but to find comfort, including for work,” Koster said. This crackdown on undocumented workers follows an announcement made earlier in the year by Bali Vice Governor Tjok Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati to oust workers without the proper permits.
But not all controversial laws and bans implemented on the island destination will affect tourists. In December 2022, Indonesia’s parliament banned sex and cohabitation outside of marriage. Governor Koster assured foreign visitors that they won’t be subject to the penalties (which could be up to a year in jail), saying marital status will not be checked at tourism accommodations, including hotels, villas, guesthouses, and spas.
Current rules for U.S. travelers to Bali
For visitors from nearly 100 countries, including the United States, the Bali Visa on Arrival is valid for 30 days and can be extended only once for another 30 days. It costs IDR 500,000 (approximately US$35) per person and can be paid for with cash or credit card at the airport. It’s valid for tourism as well as for remote workers as long as they aren’t working for clients in Indonesia or getting paid there.
Additionally, those visiting the island need to share proof of COVID vaccination or a vaccination certificate (physical or digital).
Tourism is one of Bali’s largest economic sectors, with around 60 percent of the island’s gross regional product coming from the travel industry. According to data platform Statista, around 1.19 million foreign travelers entered Bali in 2022 compared to 6.28 million in 2019.