Regional and local newswires, including Tempo, are reporting that Bali’s Governor, I Wayan Koster has officially barred foreign and domestic tourists from hiking 22-mountains on the island. The ban has been issued following cases of inappropriate behaviour in sacred highlands.
Koster said that the sacredness of the mountain is what attracts tourists. “If the sanctity is damaged, it is the same as degrading the sacredness of Bali’s nature,” he said.
Recent cases of foreign tourists violating the sacred nature of the holy mountains include holding a naked photo session and littering. Thus, the policy is aimed at maintaining customs and creating quality tourism, say Tempo.
“Because there are already bhisama that mountains are a sacred area, so we prohibit mountain climbing,” said the Governor last week.
The policy applies to domestic and foreign tourists as the regional government completely closes the area. “This will take effect forever and local regulations will be issued to regulate everything. [The ban is] not only for foreign tourists but also domestic tourists and local residents unless there will be religious ceremonies or disaster management and special activities that are not for tourism activities,” Koster explained.
Tempo are reporting that the policy has met with controversy as the ban has an impact on the economy of the community, especially those who are engaged in climbing activity services such as climbing guides, porters, and others.
Chairman of the Mount Agung Climbing Tourism Guide Forum, I Ketut Mudiada, hoped that there will be structured and clear regulations on mountain climbing tourism. According to him, tourist activities in the mountains have an impact on economic development for the people residing at the foot of the mountain, especially Mount Agung, say Tempo.
The ban on mountain climbing in Bali is stipulated in Circular Letter No. 4 of 2023 concerning the New Order for International Tourists in Bali. This policy is also issued by taking into account the Bali Governor Regulation No. 25 of 2020 on the facilitation of the protection of temples, Pratima, and religious symbols and Bali Governor Regulation No. 28 of 2020 on Bali tourism management.
Photo by Juan Cruz Mountford on Unsplash