Indonesia has a love–hate relation with Bali.

They love the power it has to draw in tourists from around the world, but are less keen on what said tourists do when they get there.

The Island of the Gods is just one in 17,000 islands but it accounts for 60 per cent – or just under six million – of Indonesia's total tourist arrivals per year.

President Joko Widodo was re-elected on an economic pledge to establish "10 new Balis" across Indonesia, but it's unlikely they'll put up with 10 times the headache caused by badly behaved tourists.

Advertisement
Bali is worried the quality of its tourists is declining. Photo / Instagram.com
Bali is worried the quality of its tourists is declining. Photo / Instagram.com

Somehow this Indonesian island of temples brings out the worst in tourists.

The clash of cultures has been illustrated across a number of incidents recorded in the news over just the past year.

Bali is rethinking what tourists it wants to attract. Photo / Instagram.com
Bali is rethinking what tourists it wants to attract. Photo / Instagram.com

A Russian tourist was arrested for smuggling an orangutan and seven lizards out of the country; a family of tourists were caught stealing the contents of their hotel room; at least five men – in one video – were recorded running naked through the streets of Seminyak hurling insults; and a Czech couple were caught 'desecrating' a Balinese shrine.

Among the tourists behaving badly are Australians and Kiwis.

The increasingly "disrespectful" behaviour is beginning to turn Indonesians and the island's authorities against the sort of tourists that flock to Bali in their millions.

A Danish tourist sparked outrage for sitting on a shrine at the Puhur Luhur Batukaru temple. Photo / Instagram.com
A Danish tourist sparked outrage for sitting on a shrine at the Puhur Luhur Batukaru temple. Photo / Instagram.com

Last year the deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Sukawati told The Guardian that the island is at the start of a rapid cultural decline "because we are too open with tourists, so too many come."

An Australian-based non-profit Indonesia Institute said the fault was not entirely with the holidaymakers, but with the overly lenient Indonesian courts.

One family were shamed for raiding a Bali hotel. Photo / Supplied, Twitter.com
One family were shamed for raiding a Bali hotel. Photo / Supplied, Twitter.com

"The group is urging Indonesian authorities to have 'no sympathy' and send Australians who run amok to jail," said Australian broadcaster 7 News.

Advertisement

Up until now western tourists have felt impervious to any material repercussions from their behaviour abroad.

Like sacred cash cows tourists are allowed to roam unchecked but tolerated; 80 per cent of the country's income depends on them.

Tourists are fully aware of the permissive attitude, and it has brought out the worst in them.

While Indonesia is determined to export the Bali-style party island model throughout the archipelago, they may be wise to consider the kind of tourist that comes with it.