When Indonesia announced its controversial bill that prohibits extra-marital sex and cohabitation between unmarried couples, some wondered whether this would apply to tourists. Bali Governor, Wayan Koster, has confirmed that visitors will not be at risk of criminalisation under the new laws which don’t come into effect for another three years.
The Governor said that those who “visit or live in Bali would not need to worry with regard to the entry into force of the Indonesian criminal code.”
The Balinese government would ensure “there will be no checking on marital status upon check-in at any tourism accommodation, such as hotels, villas, apartments, guest houses, lodges, and spas.”
Since the bill was passed, a large amount of flight and hotel bookings had been allegedly cancelled, however Mr Wayan has called those a “hoax.” Instead, he argues that relevant data from airlines, travel agents, and accommodation operators suggests that the number of visitors is expected to increase from December 2022 to March 2023.
Tourism in Indonesia is centred around Bali and while this legislation has been in the works for decades, some on the tourism board, like deputy chief, Maulana Yusran, argues this is “totally counter-productive” if the aim to help tourism recover to pre-pandemic levels.
The new legislation is part of a slew of changes to the criminal code in Indonesia, which has appeared as religious conservatism rises in prominence in the Muslim-majority country. Additional changes include criminalising any criticism aimed towards the president or vice-president.
The government has pointed out that while extra-marital sex and cohabitation offences are illegal, they will only be prosecuted if it is reported by a child, parent, or spouse. Officials insist that this provision will make it unlikely that tourists will be affected.