While many people visit Bali for its estimated 10,000 unique temples, the Indonesian island is planning on introducing new rules for visiting them. This situation has arisen because local authorities are concerned about the rise in disrespectful behaviour by visitors at the sites, including people posing in bikinis and climbing over sacred Hindu structures.
At a regional council meeting, Bali’s deputy governor, Tjokorda Oka Artha Sukawati, aka Cok Ace, said that the temples need to be preserved since they are the spirits of Bali’s cultures and customs, according to the Guardian. He explained that the authorities would be re-evaluating the system that allows tourists to visit temples unaccompanied, after a decline in the ‘quality of tourists.’ Indonesia has strict blasphemy laws and recent incidents of what it considers to be disrespectful behaviour have fuelled its unhappiness at visitor behaviour.
Bali attracted over five million visitors in 2017, but the local government feels that its increasing popularity is negatively impacting the island. Visitors enjoy watching locals marching to the myriad temple ceremonies, and the middle of the island is dominated by the dramatic volcanoes of the central mountains and hillside temples, such as Pura Luhur Batukau.
Local government ire was recently sparked by a viral image of a Danish tourist sitting on this temple’s Linggih Padmasana shrine, which is shaped like a throne on top of a pillar. Sitting on it is seen as highly offensive to the Hindu faith, as the throne is reserved for the most important deity in Balinese Hinduism. As a result, it is planned that new rules will be brought in to eliminate this behaviour.