Peddlers and beggars on Kuta Beach are being rounded up and rehabilitated by authorities, who are following up on a foreign tourist’s complaint in a video that went viral last week.
The Kuta Precinct said that officers have rounded up some 50 beggars — many of whom sell tissues to tourists — from last Thursday to Saturday on and around Kuta Beach.
While the precinct said that this was part of a routine operation to maintain public order in the area, it also noted that it was a direct response to one foreign tourist’s complaint.
“The beggars bothered a foreign tourist [in an incident] that went viral some time ago,” Kuta Precinct Chief Orpa SM Takalapeta said.
Among those rounded up were children who begged for change on traffic stops. Police say that all peddlers and beggars will receive counseling before they are sent back to their respective hometowns.
Last week, a short clip went viral depicting a middle-aged Caucasian woman expressing her general displeasure with Bali based on her experience with Kuta peddlers, prompting officials to promise to take action.
“Kuta is the worst. The people are harassing you when you walk on the beach. It’s so annoying. I don’t wanna come back to Kuta or to Bali. It is terrible. It is really terrible. I’m so glad I’m going home tomorrow,” she said.
While she did not specify whether those who bothered her were peddlers or beggars, it appears authorities are not discriminating between the two in eradicating Kuta Beach of what is ultimately a minor convenience for privileged tourists.
Locals peddling goods like fashion accessories and massages on Kuta Beach have been a fixture in the tourism hotspot even before the pandemic. They’re so common that they have been regularly featured in travel blogs and websites.
Comments on the video were divided, with some labeling the woman a “Karen” while others have defended her by saying that beach peddlers in Bali can be annoyingly persistent.