Bali’s official tourism promotion agency (BPPD Bali) announced its objection to the current draft revision to Indonesia’s criminal code (RKUHP) over the weekend, citing concerns about a number of articles that it says could affect tourism on the island.
Chief of BPPD Bali, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati (Cok Ace), said on Saturday that members of the tourism industry in Bali will submit a formal suggestion to revise RKUHP to the House of Parliament (DPR).
“We are focused on supporting tourism in Bali, and therefore we will propose a suggestion to revise several articles of [RKUHP] that we think will have a negative impact on tourism in Bali,” said Cok Ace, who is also Bali’s Vice Governor, as reported by Tempo.
Bali remains a top destination for foreign travelers visiting the archipelago. In 2018, the island welcomed more than 6 million foreign tourists, which constituted nearly 40 percent of the total number of foreign tourists traveling to Indonesia last year.
The passage of RKUHP would controversially classify a number of actions as a criminal act in the country for the first time. The bill even elicited a response from neighboring Australia, which updated its official travel advice to its nationals on Friday to warn them about the possibility of the bill passing.
The Australian government, via its Smartraveller website, highlighted that the new law would also apply to all foreigners and includes articles criminalizing sex and cohabitation outside of marriage.
The articles governing these matters, laid out on Article 417 and 419 in RKUHP, are among those that BPPD is asking the DPR to revise.
According to Cok Ace, having those private matters regulated under the country’s criminal code will make tourists rethink their decision to visit Indonesia.
Cok Ace also highlighted Article 432 on vagrants, which is defined as people who loiter on the streets or public facilities and disrupting public order, who may be fined IDR1 million under the new law. He noted how there are concerns that the article can criminalize those, especially women, who go home late at night.
“This will very much disrupt tourism-related businesses, because then it will be limited by the hours,” Cok Ace said.
The head of Bali Tourism Board, Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, said the passing of RKUHP might make many travelers uncomfortable when staying at a hotel in Bali or other parts of Indonesia, as they will be required to provide marriage certificates or make other arrangements for their stay.
“It will be something that they take note of, and they will be less inclined to stay in Bali and choose other countries for their holidays,” Adnyana said.
Legislators in the DPR previously said that RKUHP would be voted on and likely passed tomorrow, but it’s future has been thrown into question after President Joko Widodo asked the DPR to delay its passage on Friday, citing concerns and the need for further study.