Due to Numerous Norm Violations, Governor of Bali Plans to Implement a Ban on Mountain Climbing

Several Mountains in Bali Will Be Made into Sacred Areas. (Photo: Bill Fairs - Unsplash)

Governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster, has revealed plans to implement a ban on mountain climbing in the region, particularly targeting foreign tourists. This measure will be incorporated into either a Regional Regulation (Perda) or a Governor Regulation (Pergub) aimed at preserving the sanctity of Bali’s mountains. The governor emphasized the need for such a regulation during a coordination meeting with mayors and regents from across Bali on May 31, 2023, citing numerous instances of activities on the mountains exceeding acceptable limits.

Governor Koster specifically mentioned the case of Mount Batur, which has been misused as a venue for parties and motorbike races, stating that it is inappropriate for sacred sites to be subjected to such activities. Consequently, he believes that the proposed regulation is necessary to address this issue.

Tjok Bagus Pemayun, the Head of Bali Tourism Agency, clarified that the ban on mountain climbing will apply to all mountains in Bali. However, specific regulations outlining the prohibition have not yet been established, although they are expected to be developed promptly. Regarding the scope of the ban, it remains uncertain whether it will solely apply to foreign tourists or extend to include all visitors, both foreign and local.

The initiative to enforce this ban emerged following Governor Koster’s consultation with Hindu religious figures (Sulinggih), who conveyed their decision (bhisama) on the matter. Tjok Bagus emphasized that the regulations will be crafted with consideration for the livelihoods of local guides and vendors who work in the mountains. Governor Koster expressed concerns about the risks associated with mountain tourism, highlighting the need for precautions to prevent inappropriate behavior and accidents.

In the event of misconduct or mishaps, the local community is required to conduct the Ngaturang Guru Pidaka ritual as a means of seeking forgiveness from the Almighty. Governor Koster aims to avoid the necessity of conducting such rituals on a daily basis, underscoring the importance of implementing the ban on activities.

The decision to propose a ban on mountain climbing was prompted by several incidents deemed inappropriate. Notably, a Canadian national identified as JGC (33) was reported to have engaged in a nude dance on Mount Batur in April 2022.

It is worth noting that Governor Koster had previously issued regulations specifically targeting foreign tourists. Circular Letter Number 4 of 2023, issued on May 31, 2023, established new guidelines for foreign tourists during their stay in Bali. The circular emphasized the importance of respectful behavior when visiting sacred sites and strictly prohibited driving under the influence of alcohol or without a valid International Driving Permit.

The proposed ban on mountain climbing aims to ensure the preservation of Bali’s natural heritage and sacred sites, as well as to promote responsible and respectful tourism practices.