Bali’s tourism industry is worried that a viral TikTok video could discourage travellers from visiting the island due to fears of prosecution over their private activities. Are security forces doing sweeps of hotel rooms to find unmarried people having sex?
In some of the most Draconian measures introduced in the Southeast Asian nation for decades, lawmakers declared that sex outside of marriage will result in a one-year jail sentence.
They passed the new law in December, causing panic amongst travellers hoping to holiday in Bali with a date. The reforms include a ban on cohabitation between unmarried couples and would apply to both Indonesians and tourists.
Last week, a domestic tourist staying at a Nusa Dua hotel in Bali uploaded a video to TikTok, in which he played a prank on his wife for her birthday. He capitalised on travellers’ concerns about Indonesia’s new criminal code and whether people, including tourists, could be jailed for having sex outside of marriage. In reality, fornicators could be thrown in jail only in specific cases.
The TikToker collaborated with hotel security to stage a fake raid to catch unmarried guests staying together. The “officers” demanded to see marriage certificates for the guests.
Later in the video, hotel staff surprised the user’s wife with a birthday celebration. Despite the video depicting only the staged raid, an edited version cutting out the reveal that it was a prank went viral online.
Some people believed that authorities in Bali were truly raiding hotels to weed out the immoral lawbreakers living in sin. The Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) sought to reassure travellers while warning content creators to be cautious about posting videos that could harm Bali’s reputation as a safe tourist destination.
“We can guarantee that hotels will not ask for marriage certificates. Secondly, there will be no hotel raids. Thirdly, we will keep guests’ personal information confidential. If you want to play pranks, think about the consequences. Don’t post content that benefits you but is detrimental to us.”
The individual who created the TikTok video and the hotel involved have both apologized to Bali Governor Wayan Koster over the incident.
Meanwhile, the Bali Tourism Agency decided to reinforce the need to protect its tourism reputation. It is issuing a notice to hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites on the island, urging them to avoid damaging Bali’s reputation as a tourism-dependent island.