Indonesia’s newly approved penal code won’t put tourists to Bali at risk, the island’s governor said, dismissing concerns that the revised law, which includes provisions criminalizing sex outside of marriage, could scare off tourists.
Indonesia’s parliament passed a controversial bill last week that also bans unmarried couples from living together.
In an effort to appease tourists, Bali’s governor, Vinkost, said in a statement on Sunday that the new law, which will take effect in three years, will only be prosecuted if a parent, spouse or child files a complaint.
Those who “visit or live in Bali need not worry about the entry into force of Indonesian criminal law,” he said.
The Premier said provisions of the penal code on the issue had been revised from earlier, more stringent versions so “the privacy and comfort of everyone will be better guaranteed.”
The Bali government will ensure that “marital status will not be checked at the time of check-in at any tourist accommodation such as hotels, villas, apartments, guest houses, inns and spas,” Wayan said.
Wayan also denied what he called “hoax” reports of cancellations of flights and hotel room bookings, adding that data from travel agencies, tour and accommodation operators, and airlines showed an increase from December 2022 to March 2023. up.
Bali is Indonesia’s tourism hub, with the tourism association aiming for foreign tourists to the predominantly Hindu island to reach pre-pandemic levels of 6 million a year by 2025.
Decades into its making, lawmakers hailed the passage of the penal code as a much-needed overhaul of the vestiges of Dutch colonial rule. Officials said it was aimed at upholding “Indonesian values” in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
But Maulana Yusran, vice-chairman of the Indonesian Tourism Council, said last week the new regulations were “totally counterproductive” as the economy and tourism began to recover from the pandemic.
The U.N. has also raised concerns about the threat to civil liberties posed by criminal laws, which also include laws criminalizing insulting the president, the flag and state institutions.