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Indonesian Minister: Backpackers Are Not Welcome In Bali Upon Reopening

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An Indonesian minister has stated that the popular tourist hotspot of Bali will move away from being a backpacker island as the country works towards reopening for travelers once more. Bali has long been viewed as one of, if not the definitive backpacker hotspots for decades, and the news is bound to come as a blow to grounded backpackers dreaming of traveling once more in the near future.

bali backpacker temple

Bali is not the only destination that will be looking to take the enforced absence of travelers as an opportunity to cast itself in a new light, though it remains to be seen how effective the minister's campaign will be at rebranding the wildly popular island. Here's a look at what the minister said about Bali and how the island's plans to reopen are going.

bali beach

Bali – No Longer For Backpackers? 

For many travelers, Bali is synonymous with backpackers. A serial winner of blog posts counting down the top backpacking hotspots in the world, Bali is capable of attracting upwards of 6m foreign tourists a year in non-pandemic times, many of which are backpackers ticking the island off of their Southeast Asia bucket lists and take in the wonder of its temples, beaches and bars. However, backpackers are far from the only types of travelers flocking to the island's shores.

backpacker bali rice terrace

Whilst hostels in high season may be fully booked and street food businesses booming, Bali also has a lot to offer for the luxury-orientated traveler. High-end beach clubs, fancy resorts and fine dining establishments have a sizeable presence on the island to attract the more discerning traveler – and it is these markets that politicians in the country want to target once the borders reopen, as the island tries to remarket itself and shake off its backpacker image.

bali temple traveler

During a visit to the island on Friday, Indonesia's Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan spoke of the possibility of Bali being more selective with tourists once it finally reopens once more. Discussing the matter, the minister said:

“We will filter tourists that come visit. We don’t want backpackers to come so that Bali remains clean, where the people who come are of quality.”

temple bali

It is easy to see why the idea of attracting big-spending travelers over thrifty backpackers may be appealing given how long the tourism-dependent island has been starved of travelers. However, with the island yet to reopen in any significant form – and with only 1m travelers able to make the journey in 2020 – it is an unusual move to alienate potential visitors, particularly when similar destinations nearby have already begun easing their restrictions and letting tourists enter. 

Bali Eyes July Re-Opening As Vaccine Rollout Picks Up Pace

At present, Bali is a Level 4 province in Indonesia, which means it carries the strictest restrictions. During his visit, Minister Luhut spoke of the possibility of allowing foreign travelers to visit once the province reaches Level 2. The island had previously been scheduled to reopen, however, a spike in cases led to those plans being scrapped. 

C:\Users\Advice\Desktop\Indonesian Government Working Towards Kickstarting Tourism In Bali.png

At present, travel is only permitted to Bali for domestic travelers, with international leisure travel banned. However, the Indonesian government have spoken about the possibility of adopting a scheme similar to the Phuket Sandbox that would allow international travelers to be able to visit Bali. Whether or not backpackers will be welcomed remains to be seen. 

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Thursday 16th of September 2021

Backpackers is Bahasa for drunk and rowdy Australians, most often without backpacks. I hope to get to Bali before Australians are let off of their prison island to enjoy Bali without them.

Neh Mcd

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

I've been seeing this type of talk coming from Bali and also Thailand. It seems as though they've forgotten where their money comes from in a time when they need it most. These places think that the rich all of a sudden are just going to start popping up and taking care of all the issues. They better pray the backpackers even come back. Alot of these places are going to suffer long and hard before change comes and in 3 yrs when those rich haven't come they'll be begging the backpackers to come back. It's going to get alot worse before it gets better. The funny thing about it all is that the backpackers are the ones that put the place on the map.


Wednesday 15th of September 2021

@Neh Mcd, U r correct.

Brian Corriveau

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

I lost my taste and patience for Bali after my second trip in 2019. One expects to get ripped off in the tourist shops, but when you are harassed, hustled and cheated in the temples, well, that's just too much. No more Bali for me.


Wednesday 15th of September 2021

@Brian Corriveau, get cheated in the temples? That’s news to me. If you have the skills to bargain then you would not feel cheated at souvenir shops. Simple as that.

Tan wee seng

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

How can a minister talk like this? He is not much of use to the country. The backpackers are also customers for some low end service providers. So only the high end hotels can welcome customers back And low end hotels and lodging Houses go and die Is that what he meant?


Wednesday 15th of September 2021

This doesn’t make sense. Will they police the type of baggage tourists use? Are they banning hostel? How is it possible to “ban backpackers”?