The idyllic island of Bali has long been a bucket-list destination for travelers but a proposed alcohol ban could see tourists seek alternative destinations.
Situated to the east of the Indonesian capital Jakarta and north of Australia, Bali is one of the most visited destinations in Southeast Asia. Famous for its diverse landscapes, which includes lush rainforests, dramatic mountains and pearlescent beaches, it’s a liberal, tropical paradise within the more Islamic-fundamentalist country of Indonesia. However, recent discussions about banning the sale of alcohol on the island could send it into turmoil.
Why is the ban being considered?
The idea of the ban is not a new one in Indonesia, but it is one that has recently gained some traction in the Indonesian media, thanks to the support of different political parties in the country. Two Islamist political parties – the Prosperous Justice Party and the United Development Party – have been joined by the nationalist party Gerindra in promoting the prohibition bill and sparking the debate on the issue.
Indonesia has form when it comes to limiting alcohol sales. In 2015, they banned the sale of alcohol in small “mom and pop” type stores, and the city of Aceh has completely prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol following its move to embrace sharia law, the Islamic legal code. Previous calls to ban alcohol in the country had listed the Hindu-majority island of Bali to be exempt from bans, but discussion surrounding the most recent iteration of the ban have yet to clarify if this would be the safe.
Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, with 12.7% of the world’s Muslims inhabiting the country. Whilst Bali may be an anomaly in that it is a majority-Hindu province, Islam has a huge influence on the governance of the country, and is the key driving factor behind the potential ban.
Crime and Punishment
In order to effectively police such a ban, strong punishments have been put forward for would-be offenders. Consumption of alcohol could bring about a fine of 50 million rupiah ($3500 USD) and a three year prison sentence, whilst anyone found guilty of producing alcohol could face a severe fine of 1 billion rupiah ($71000 USD) and ten years behind bars.
In Aceh, where prohibition is very much in effect, those found guilty of flouting the anti-alcohol laws face even more draconian punishments. Those found to have consumed alcohol can expect to face between six to nine lashings with a cane, which is a punishment in line with what is suggested in the Qur’an.
Tourism in Bali
Prior to the pandamic, tourism in Bali was on the rise. In 2019, the island saw a 3.37% rise in foreign tourists to its shores. However, todays reality makes for grim reading. Following the travel restrictions that have been brought on by the pandemic, tourism in Bali has dropped 95%, leaving the province reeling. International tourists are currently banned from travelling to Bali, yet the airport remains open to domestic travellers.
The tourism sector accounts for 80% of Bali’s revenue sources, and as a result the province has become the worst-affected of Indonesia’s 34 provinces. With the ban on alcohol likely to have an overwhelmingly negative affect on the number of future holidaymakers, it’s likely that Bali’s economic woes will continue even after the borders open up to international travellers.
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Tuesday 29th of December 2020
Don't be mistaken. A 'light' alcohol ban is allready in place. Little shops and convenient stores are not allowed to sell beer anymore and some supermarkets only sell through special separated counters. So a first step has been taken!
Friday 20th of November 2020
This is great and I know people will be mad at me for saying it but, sucked in. Not everyone wants to go to a holiday island to be surrounded by drunk, fat, nasty, entitled Australians. Some people just want to relax without hearing someone chucking in the room next door and sadly every decade the Aussies in Bali get worse and ruin it for us all. I love how all the bogans are raging about it in the comments acting as if Bali belongs to Australia. NO! It doesn't! If you ask the Balinese to be honest with you, they can't stand most Aussies because there's a large influx of "White Trash" Aussies flooding the island for cheap thrills. They've even started sending their kids for "schoolies" unsupervised. Did you think this would honestly last? XD Sorry but Bali isn't your dumping ground. The biggest issue with Bail is all the disgusting bogans that travel there for cheap booze, cheap smokes and cheap women (Thankfully it's not as bad as Thailand yet). People feel ashamed to say they've been to Bali out of fear of being associated with the "Bintang Bogan" trash of Kuta that are increasing every year. They make the rest of us look bad, you can act like they don't but they do and I feel ashamed to say I'm an Aussie ONLY in Bali.. Everywhere else I've travelled to people are fine with Australians but when you look at cheaper south east Asia locations, they are disgusted with us and yes not all of us but you know the kinds of people I'm taking about. If you can't enjoy a holiday without getting hammered, then maybe go to an AA meeting as that seems like an issue all of your own. Yes, please do go to Vietnam and Thailand instead. I can see people being upset that your drinking culture is being "taken away" But yet again, Bali isn't Australia... It wasn't meant to be a party destination and they've been wanting to change the image for years. There's a reason they're so strict on drugs and drugs do still get in but they want to change the island around.... and yeah a large reason will be due to religion but yet again, it's not your country. You ruined it yourselves and only have yourselves to blame. I can understand people wanting the odd beer by the pool etc I know not everyone wants to get "trashed" but yeah, if they make this a rule and remove alcohol from the Island it will definitely reduce tourism from the cheap nasty, young party people but I'm sure that will attract anyone that hated that aspect about Bali. I'll still go to Bali as I'm sure there are many people out there able to go a week without alcohol. I think the people that will be really upset are the bogans that have leases XD
Saturday 21st of November 2020
I have to agree with you on your observation. Nonetheless many Australians want a quick and cheap vacation in Bali. Like many Americans would spend their holidays on the beaches of Mexico. However Americans know Mexico is a foreign sovereign nation where as some Australians believe that Bali is a country and not a part of Indonesia. Go figure!
The alcohol ban has been proposed back in 2015. It was never enacted into law. Lots of talks by a few local political parties but no action taken. This usually happens when they are running for re-election. Therefore it’s just full of hot air. No need to panic ! As you may probably know Indonesia’s Ideology or MOTTO has always been “ UNITY in DIVERSITY”. The Indonesians will always protect that mentality regardless of its diverse beliefs and ethnicity. No religion or foreign influence would ever change their one belief.
Wednesday 18th of November 2020
If you are contemplating banning the sale of alcohol for my family and. I guess along with everyone else we will simply take our cash elsewhere. No matter what religion life is about choices. The thought of travelling 19 hours to consume lemonade on my family vacation is not cool.
Wednesday 18th of November 2020
This is just hot air and nothing else. The ban was proposed back in 2015. Nothing was ever put into law since then. The majority of sensible Indonesians (Muslims and non Muslims) would rather focus on progress and a healthy economy that would benefit everyone.
Jakarta has several liquor stores operating in the malls of the capital. Expats and locals can still buy and consume booze. It’s not only in Bali that one can actually enjoy a glass of Martini, wine or a beer without any repercussion. Indonesia is secular and it’s not govern by an Islamic law. Many outsiders are clueless regarding the type of government Indonesia may have. The only autonomous region of Aceh (Northern tip of Sumatra) that has its own religious set of laws. Nonetheless, Indonesians are the most friendliest people you will ever meet where ever you may be in Indonesia.
Wednesday 18th of November 2020
I think following malaysia in banning all muslims from drinking or going to clubs would be a very damning move but to ban all religions would be a major blow to indonesia's hopes of becoming a real tourist destination not just bali