Why the New Criminal Code will Not Affect Tourists Visiting Bali
18 December 2022 16:12 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Bali - Since the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR RI) enacted the new Criminal Code Law on December 6, 2022, Bali’s tourism sector has faced an onslaught of negative attention.
There have been a number of reports of foreign tourists canceling their visits and news regarding the tightening of the country’s entry gates.
This has caused turmoil for business actors in the tourism sector. Even though they can assure that the articles in the new Criminal Code will not threaten tourists' vacations, official explanations from officials to tourists are still needed.
For example, the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita) Bali, one of the travel associations in Bali, which oversees 427 travel agents, has been pushing the government to issue an official statement over the past week.
"In our opinion regarding tourism, before these articles are issued, the government must prepare a narrative to provide explanations to foreign tourists to feel safe,” Asita Bali secretary, I Nyoman Subrata, said in Denpasar.
The official statement must provide an explanation regarding which article is important for tourists to understand since currently, they are being very careful about traveling to Indonesia.
The articles in the new Criminal Code, especially Article 411 concerning adultery and Article 412 concerning live-in relationships can only be criminalized when there is a complaint and will only be effective in the next three years, Subrata noted.
"The complaint must come from a legal husband or wife or from parents. For foreign tourists, I think there is no need to worry because they come from different countries and no one will file a complaint. People do not need to worry about going to Bali and Indonesia,” he said.
In addition, Subrata said that travel agents in Bali will always maintain the confidentiality of tourist data and ensure the safety and comfort of travelers.
The same thing was conveyed by the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), which said it believes that the issue related to the new Criminal Code will not affect tourists. However, over the past week, BTB’s chairperson, Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, has urged the government to make an announcement.
“The minister should deliver an official announcement regarding this matter. We hope Bali will continue to recover, but we still need an official statement. I am sure tourists would not be affected but they need an official statement,” Adnyana emphasized.
He said there has been a misunderstanding in the interpretation of the articles, which has been strengthened through the news.
Adnyana further said he is afraid that if the issue is kept alive, Bali tourism will be affected after the positive impetus from the G20 Summit.
Adnyana, who has data on tourist visits to Bali, denied there have been tourist visit cancellations, as reported by foreign and domestic media.
Until now, foreign tourist arrivals have remained above 10 thousand per day on average, and suspicions of the detrimental effect of the criminal code on tourism can only be entertained if there is a drastic decline in those numbers, he added.
Adnyana predicted that the number of passengers could increase during the Christmas and New Year holidays, including the hotel occupancy rate, which is above 70 percent for southern Bali, including Denpasar, Badung, and Gianyar at present.
According to the general manager of state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura I at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport, Bali, Handy Heryudhitiawan, the movement of passengers at the airport is increasing, with their number reaching 49 thousand to 50 thousand per day in December 2022.
This shows that tourists do not see any threat to their trips to Bali. This has also been proven by the number of tourist visits in November 2022, which amounted to 44 thousand–45 thousand per day.
Looking at these figures, Heryudhitiawan said he is optimistic that I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport will be able to serve a total of 12 million passengers. From January–November 2022, the airport has served 10.8 million passengers.
"Until the end of this year, we estimate that from the existing data, we can pass 12 million passengers, while last year, we only had 3.7 million passengers. We are monitoring the movement,” he added.
In addition, the arrival of foreign tourists, even Australian tourists, has also not diminished and the country, which was rumored to have canceled visits, has instead become one with the most tourist visits to date, followed by India and the United Kingdom.
Governor of Bali Wayan Koster spoke up on the issue after meeting with tourism business owners in Denpasar.
Concurring with Asita Bali and BTB’s view that there will be no threat to tourists visiting Bali, the governor said that the new Criminal Code does not need to be a cause for concern since it actually guarantees everyone's privacy and security.
"Bali is still Bali,” he emphasized.
This means that there are no new provisions such as those requiring any scrutiny of marital status when checking in at tourist accommodations, including hotels, villas, apartments, guest houses, tourist lodges, and spas.
There will also be no inspection of marital status or raids by law enforcement officials and the public because business actors will guarantee the confidentiality of tourists.
On behalf of the provincial government of Bali, Koster has assured the comfort and privacy of tourists through quality and dignified tourism.
"The government and the people of Bali always respect the tourists in Bali, including their privacy, both domestic and foreign, in a professional, polite, and communicative manner in organizing Balinese cultural tourism, which is based on Sad Kerthi's local wisdom," he said.
He also explained to tourists that the new Criminal Code actually does not specifically regulate premarital sexual relations.
Further, violations of Articles 411 and 412 do not qualify as general offenses for which perpetrators can be arrested and or prosecuted immediately. They can only be prosecuted if someone complains, specifically the husbands or wives of people who are bound by marriage, or the parents or children of people who are not bound by marriage.
In addition, Koster pointed out that the more general adultery crime articles were regulated in Article 284 of the old Criminal Code. Until now, they have never caused any problems for tourists, including disturbing the privacy of tourists visiting or living in Bali.
Therefore, Koster asked tourists to not hesitate to visit Bali because there is no threat to them from the new Criminal Code. The issue of cancellation and tightening has been refuted by the existing visitation data.
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