Foreign tourists are gradually flowing back to Bali, although some are not arriving only for tourism.
Australia was ranked first in terms of the number of tourist arrivals, followed by Russia which has shot up to be the second-largest country in terms of tourism to the Island of the Gods.
This Russian phenomenon is intriguing because the citizens of the country that is currently at war with Ukraine do not just travel to Bali, but rather are choosing to stay for a longer time.
Responding to the rise of foreigners who have been living in Bali for an extended period, the Secretary of the Hanura Bali Party Gde Wirajaya Wisna shared his input.
“Of course, we are happy if tourists are flowing back to Bali. But it is our hope that they are intentionally going to Bali for tourism purposes,” he said on Monday 27th February 2023.
Their length of stay, he continued, is very good for Bali’s tourism and economy. “But if for other reasons, say if they are secretly running a business, then this must be criticised,” he added.
A long stay could lead to foreign tourists carrying out business activities to support their daily lives. If done legally and according to permits, it shows a positive sign because this investment will also boost Bali’s economy.
What is concerning is the emergence of illegal business actors without official permits, even entering the micro, small, and medium enterprises sector.
“Take a look at social media. They offer a variety of services, ranging from photos, videos, spas, haircuts, and others,” he said.
It is acknowledged that these promoted businesses mostly are from Russians and target primarily Russian citizens in Bali. Wisna also encouraged immigration to make more active efforts to address this phenomenon and anyone who is aware of this alleged irregularity can report it to the immigration authorities.
“However, the conditions for reporting should not be made more difficult. You have to include the tourist’s passport number, for example,” he continued.
Data from the Bali Tourism Office showed that Russian foreign tourists visiting Bali in 2022 reached 58,031 people. The upward trend was noticed in January 2023, with an increase of 22,703 people.
The accumulated number of Russian and Ukrainian foreigners who have been to Bali from 2022 to January 2023 is 90,833 people.
The Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno has responded to the Russian foreigners, along with Ukrainians, who are suspected of working illegally in Bali.
“We still have the policy to make it easier for foreign tourists to enter Indonesia, but there must still be monitoring until they arrive in Indonesia whether they are carrying out tourism or non-tourism activities,” said Uno in Kuta on Thursday 23rd February.