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Driving a motorbike into the sea, painted-on face masks: Misbehaving influencers draw Bali residents ire

Driving a motorbike into the sea, painted-on face masks: Misbehaving influencers draw Bali residents ire

Tourists enjoy the beach amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Badung, Bali, Indonesia, March 1, 2021, in this photo taken by Antara Foto/Nyoman Hendra Wibowo/via Reuters

JAKARTA: An Instagrammer in Bali was deported after riding his motorcycle off a pier into the sea. 

Two other influencers who flouted COVID-19 restrictions by drawing on face masks in an attempt to enter a supermarket were also made to leave the country.  

Since the pandemic began, there have been several high-profile instances of misbehaving influencers from abroad on the resort island. Reports of these brash and disrespectful behaviours have angered some Bali residents and even Indonesians in other parts of the country.

“By pulling these stunts, these influencers are encouraging others to do the same. Not only are they giving Bali a bad reputation but they are also endangering others with their behaviours,” Bali-based designer Niluh Djelantik told CNA. 

University student Putu Aryana added: “Bali has had many cases of foreigners misbehaving before but to misbehave during a pandemic when everyone is suffering is just unacceptable. What is more alarming is that some of these people were influencers with millions of followers.”

The authorities have pledged to adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards misbehaving tourists.

COVID-19 BREACHES, DISRESPECTFUL BEHAVIOURS

Although Indonesia's visa-free and visa-on-arrival programmes are still suspended, it is possible for tourists to enter after applying for a visa from their respective countries prior to their arrival.

According to the Indonesian Justice Ministry, 160 people were deported from Bali last year for various offences. 

This was a slight drop from 2019, when 165 people faced deportation from Bali. However, Bali welcomed 6.3 million foreign tourists that year. In 2020, because of the pandemic, there were only 1 million international travellers to Bali.

So far this year, authorities on the island have deported more than 60 people.

This year’s figure included a Taiwanese YouTuber with three million subscribers. Josh Paler Lin, along with Russian influencer Leia Se, fooled a supermarket security guard into letting them enter the premises with drawn-on face masks.

Prior to their deportation, the pair posted an apology video online. "The intention to make this video was not at all to disrespect or to invite everyone to not wear a mask," Mr Lin said. "I made this video to entertain people because I'm a content creator and it is my job to entertain people."

In January, a Russian influencer with five million Instagram followers, Sergey Kosenko was expelled from Bali after he posted videos of him and his friends partying without following COVID-19 protocols. He also posted videos of him and a female friend launching a motorcycle off a dock and into the sea.

He has apologised on his Instagram account but did not take down the videos.

Also in January, immigration authorities deported Kristen Gray, an American woman, after she attracted criticism on Twitter for promoting an e-book she was selling that told people how to bypass strict regulations barring foreigners from visiting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Canadian Christopher Kyle Martin (center) was deported from Indonesia for offering a "Tantric Full Body Orgasm" yoga class. (Photo: AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka) Canadian Christopher Kyle Martin (wearing hat) was deported from Indonesia for offering a 'Tantric Full Body Orgasm' yoga class AFP/SONNY TUMBELAKA

Mr Albert Chandra, who owns an arts and crafts business, claimed that he has seen foreigners who don't wear masks at the beaches, public places or while riding motorbikes.

“They don't seem to care about the pandemic and whenever locals tried to remind them, they got angry. The government needs to crack down on these people and not only focus on cases which have gone viral,” he said.

People can be hit with a fine of 1 million rupiah (US$70) for not wearing a mask in Bali. (Photo: AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka) People can be hit with a fine of one million rupiah ($70) for not wearing a mask in Bali AFP/SONNY TUMBELAKA

Meanwhile, the authorities have pledged to take firmer actions.

Responding to CNA's queries, Mr I Putu Astawa, the chief of Bali Tourism Agency said that the police, the military and public order officials will be deployed to monitor the behaviour of visitors.

“We will show no tolerance. These people are damaging our efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Our task force has been working tirelessly to handle the impact of COVID-19 and these people are undoing the good work that we have done,” he said.

“They are setting a bad example to others, especially given the fact that some of these people are influencers. Furthermore, they are disrespecting the rules and regulations of this country. We have to show that we do not tolerate such behaviours and that the law applies to everyone.”

READ: Without tourists from Singapore, Bintan's resorts get creative to make ends meet amid COVID-19

During a press conference on May 10, Bali governor I Wayan Koster promised to clamp down on foreigners who have violated health protocols as well as those who disrespected Indonesian norms and values. 

“I as governor of Bali will be more firm in taking actions against foreigners who have been behaving badly lately. We will no longer tolerate these kinds of actions,” he said. 

Mr Koster said although the resort island is looking forward to the recovery of its tourism sector which had been hit hard by the pandemic, he hoped all visitors would show respect to Indonesian law and customs. 

“There shall be no more tourists whose behaviour disrespect the law and the values observed by the people of Bali,” he stated.

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Source: CNA/ni

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