Expats and tourists aghast at proposed Indonesia booze ban

Published:  16 Aug at 6 PM
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Tagged: Australia, UK, Money, Euro, England
Shock-horror and incomprehension amongst expats and tourists is greeting the news that the Indonesian parliament is debating a total ban on drinks containing more than one per cent alcohol.

The shocking annoucement has caused world media headlines as well as panic amongst local bar owners, distributors and manufacturers of alcoholic drinks. The thought of Balinese sunsets without sundowners isn’t at all appealing to tourists and the country’s expat communities, even although alcohol is already banned in Papua and Java’s port city of Surabaya.

Although the bill at present under debate may possibly grant exceptions to visitors, religious rituals and similar customary activities, the general opinion is that it would wreck the country’s tourism industry. Unsurprisingly, the hospitality industry itself is in uproar, especially as the bulk of its revenue comes from Australian tourists, the majority of whom couldn’t imagine a holiday without alcohol.

Hariyadi Sukhamdani, leader of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, told the media that passing the bill would wreck his members’ businesses and kill the country’s tourism. He added tourists drink all the time, especially those from Australia and Europe. In 2015, the sale of alcohol in Indonesian mini markets was stopped due to pressure from Muslim organisations, resulting in a huge increase in the sale of illegal alcoholic drinks including bootleg liquor.

According to Indonesian Institute president Ross Taylor, there is genuine support in the country for a total ban on alcoholic drinks. The reason, he said, is the effects of alcohol on young people in the Western world, adding that many people in Indonesia believe banning alcohol is the only answer. However, he admitted that Bali hospitality businesses in particular would suffer severe effects should the ban be introduced into law.

It’s not just tourists who would find the ban a step too far and abandon Indonesia for less restrictive beachside destinations. Western expats in Bali and other Indonesian retiree hotspots might well consider it’s time to move on, taking their money with them to other Asian holiday hubs.
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