Will Indonesia's premarital sex law hurt tourism? So far it hasn't

Companies with hotels, cruises and tours in Indonesia say there has been no concern from guests about the country’s recently passed law that will criminalize sex and cohabitation between unmarried individuals. 

After tourism officials voiced concern about the controversial law’s potential impact, Indonesia last week clarified that tourists and foreign nationals living in Indonesia will be exempt. Violation of the law, which will take around three years to implement, will be punishable by up to one year in prison.

The combination of foreigners being exempt and the long lead time has meant a muted response from potential visitors. 

Francesco Galli Zugaro, founder and CEO of Aqua Expeditions, said there hasn’t been any guest concerns.

“This is purely an issue in three years when it takes effect, and only in the event that a relative makes a claim,” Zugaro said, referring to the law’s requirement that a family member makes a claim about the violation. 

Adrian Pardede, assistant director of public relations and communications for the Four Seasons resorts in Bali at Jimbaran Bay and Sayan, also said that given the law won’t take effect for three years and doesn’t apply to foreigners, “it’s very much business as usual and no cause for concern for anyone visiting the country.”

Indonesia received more than 16 million visitors in 2019.

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