A high-ranked Bali official told reporters today that he would look into alleged nagging peddlers on Kuta Beach after a video of a foreign tourist expressing her discomfort from their “harassment” went viral this week.
Among those who shared the 20-second video were two major Instagram community accounts focusing on Bali. In the clip, the woman expressed her general displeasure with Bali based on her experience with Kuta peddlers.
“Kuta is the worst. The people are harassing you when you walk on the beach. It’s so annoying. I don’t wanna come back to Kuta or to Bali. It is terrible. It is really terrible. I’m so glad I’m going home tomorrow,” the woman said.
It’s not clear when the video was actually taken.
Locals peddling goods like fashion accessories and massages on Kuta Beach have been a fixture in the tourism hotspot even before the pandemic. They’re so common that they have been regularly featured in travel blogs and websites.
Comments on the video are divided, with some labeling the woman a “Karen” while others are defending her by saying that beach peddlers in Bali can be annoyingly persistent. One commenter advised the woman to visit other places in Bali with fewer peddlers.
Bali Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, or popularly known as Cok Ace, said that he is aware of the woman’s grievance.
“Yes, I’ve heard about the complaint [about] peddlers forcing travelers [to buy their trinkets]. We have been in touch with the Kuta’s bendesa [traditional village leader],” said Cok Ace.
Cok Ace acknowledged that some locals have grown desperate for income as Bali’s entire tourism sector was struggling for two years due to the pandemic. Returning tourists represent an opportunity for locals like the beach peddlers.
Bali has only begun accepting international travelers coming in directly to the island in the past few months. Travel requirements and COVID-19 restrictions have been loosened as the government aims to revive the island’s tourism industry.