The Narrative of Bali Being “Colonized” by Foreign Nationals Circulates, Tourism Minister Denies It

Young woman traveler looking for some souvenir at Ubud market in Bali (photo: envato elements)

Lately, there has been a narrative circulating that Bali is being “colonized” by Foreign Nationals (FNs) as they are said to be seizing the economic resources of local residents. In response to this notion, the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy (Menparekraf) Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno rejects such assumptions.

Sandiaga vehemently rejects the notion of Bali being ‘colonized’ by FNs, asserting the need for adherence to established regulations. He emphasizes that while foreign investment is welcome, it must not come at the expense of local livelihoods.

“In essence, adherence to regulations is paramount, ensuring that businesses operate within the confines of the law and prioritize opportunities for local residents,” Sandiaga emphasized during a press conference.

To safeguard the economic interests of Bali’s residents, clear and decisive measures are essential to enforce regulations governing FN enterprises. Sandiaga underscores the importance of swift action in addressing any deviations from these rules.

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“The crux of the matter lies in stringent law enforcement and swift follow-up on any violations. There can be no compromise, particularly concerning job opportunities and residency permit misuse,” Sandiaga affirmed.

Moreover, Sandiaga warns that repeated violations by FNs could result in deportation, signaling the government’s unwavering commitment to upholding the law.

Meanwhile, Tjok Bagus Pemayun, Head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, echoes Sandiaga’s sentiments, emphasizing the Balinese people’s deep-rooted cultural connection to their land. He dismisses the notion of ‘colonization,’ asserting that Bali’s unique cultural heritage remains steadfast amidst economic shifts.

“Bali’s rich cultural tapestry is a testament to our unwavering commitment to preserving our identity. We welcome tourists but insist on their adherence to local regulations, ensuring harmony within our communities,” Bagus remarked.

The recent emergence of ‘New Moscow’ on Bali’s map, coupled with concerns over FNs operating on tourist visas, has fueled these discussions. Wanda Ponika, a jewelry designer, took to social media to voice concerns over what she perceives as ‘economic colonization’ by FNs.

As debates continue to simmer, Bali finds itself at a crossroads, navigating the delicate balance between economic growth and cultural preservation. The path forward hinges on a concerted effort to uphold regulations while fostering an environment of inclusivity and mutual respect.