For most Brits returning from a holiday abroad, alcohol withdrawal is a very real possibility when back in the ‘real’ world. Many holidaymakers drink far too much alcohol and eat far too much food while away, and when they come home may be in need of a detox to eliminate the toxins from their bodies.

However, alcohol withdrawal is not something visitors to Bali will need to worry about if plans for an alcohol ban are approved. The Jakarta parliament has tabled a bill to ban the sale, production, possession, and consumption of alcohol on the beautiful holiday island; tourism chiefs are concerned that it could ultimately destroy the tourism industry in that country if this goes ahead.

Can Bali Tourism Survive Without Alcohol?

According to Hariyadi Sukamdani, the head of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, tourists will find it very inconvenient if they cannot source alcohol because they drink it all the time. He added, “No matter how beautiful the country is, if they can’t find alcohol, they [tourists] won’t want to come here.”

Around four million people travel to Bali every single year to experience the beauty and laid-back atmosphere of the island. Tourists mainly fund the island’s economy, so without them, it is hard to see how it will survive.

Tourist towns such as Seminyak and Kuta have a number of bars and clubs where young visitors gather to enjoy themselves, with alcohol typically playing a significant role. Nevertheless, with an alcohol ban in place, it is unlikely that many of these tourists will consider Bali, particularly European backpackers stopping off before heading to places like Australia. They will simply find another place to stop off.

Australians make up the largest number of visitors to Bali, and many have already said that they will find other places for a holiday if they cannot consume alcohol in Bali. Kenny Baker is an Australian who has been travelling to Bali for a vacation for the last twenty-two years; he said he would definitely not return if the alcohol ban is approved. He said, “It would not be Bali without a beer. It wouldn’t be the same. It is why I come to Bali, to have a beer and enjoy the beach and have a drink.”

Killing Tourism

Many Indonesians are vehemently opposed to the proposed alcohol ban as they believe it would completely kill tourism, especially in Bali. There are some suggestions that Bali could be given an exemption because it is dependent on tourism, but according to Rudolf Dethu, who is leading the opposition to the ban, the price of alcohol would skyrocket in Bali if a ban were in place in the rest of Indonesia.

While the ban may have been first proposed on religious grounds, it is now being pushed through for health reasons after a previous attempt was unsuccessful. Those behind the proposals have said that alcohol addiction and consumption in Indonesia has been directly linked to a number of deaths every year and that the ban would protect the public.

Nonetheless, experts are keen to point out that most of these deaths can be attributed to the fake alcohol that has often been illegally distilled and that may contain harmful substances such as battery fluid or methanol. Since 2012, there have been 453 deaths from counterfeit alcohol, according to the Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS).

Dangerous Alcohol

A number of tourists have unknowingly drunk poisonous alcohol and have suffered fatal consequences. In 2013, a British backpacker died after drinking toxic alcohol mislabelled as gin. Cheznye Emmons had been staying at a Sumatra resort when she drank the deadly methanol that caused her to go blind before her internal organs failed. She had bought the ‘gin’ in a local shop, completely unaware that it could be dangerous.

While many campaigners for the ban believe it would prevent deaths from alcohol, it would almost certainly have a massive impact on the economy in places such as Bali. And many experts are of the opinion that a ban would have the opposite effect in terms of alcohol deaths because the trade would simply move underground, where there would be no regulations. Director of the CIPS Rainer Heufers said, “Right now, consumers have a choice. If a drink is suspiciously cheap, then stay away from it. If everything is illegal, then I can’t even trust the expensive one, so I have to be extremely careful.”

Alcohol on Holiday

Drinking alcohol on holiday is almost expected among British tourists, and many drink to excess when abroad. This could mean alcohol withdrawal and detox upon returning home.

However, in places such as Bali and the rest of Indonesia, cheap alcohol may be too good to be true, and drinking excessive amounts could be fatal. It is important for those travelling to these countries to be alert when it comes to cheap alcohol that could have dangerous consequences. If the alcohol ban is approved in Indonesia, tourists will not be in a position to drink alcohol on the beach again, anyway.

Source: Bali’s tourism at risk of being completely wiped out by Islamic law banning alcohol (Daily Mail)