Travel agencies prepare for sales dip should Indonesia criminalise premarital sex
Holidaymakers may avoid travelling to Indonesia if new laws criminalising premarital sex come into effect
Travel agencies in Singapore are expecting a dip in sales should Indonesia pass its revised criminal code.
Among other things, the new amendments will make it illegal for couples to engage in pre- marital sex, and several media reports highlighted that unmarried couples could be denied a hotel room without a marriage certificate.
Under the changes, people who have premarital or extramarital sex could face between six months and one year in jail, as well as fines.
Following a huge public outcry and mounting criticism, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo said on Sept 20 that he will hold off the passing of the Bill, four days before the amendments were scheduled to pass into law.
While travel agencies in Singapore are sceptical that the new criminal code will be passed, they believe that business will take a hit as the islands of Bintan and Bali are popular weekend destinations for Singaporeans.
Ms Alicia Seah, the director of public relations and communications for Dynasty Travel, said Indonesia is a popular destination, with about 1,200 sign-ups a year.
"Any new negative rules that affect foreign visitors will definitely affect tourism as Indonesia relies heavily on tourism.
"When people travel, they want to feel safe, only then can they enjoy their holiday. It is hard to do so if you have to constantly worry about flouting the laws."
TRICKY TO EXECUTE
Ms Stella Chow, the spokesman for Hong Thai Travel, said the trend of young unmarried people travelling together has been picking up over the years.
Said Ms Chow: "It has become something normal to travel with friends, even if they are of the opposite sex.
"It is also difficult for us to ask customers for their private details and documentation for them (the info)."
On Sept 20, the Australian government also updated its travel advisory, highlighting the possible changes to the criminal code should the law be passed.
But some travel agencies said business will not be impacted greatly.
A spokesman for Nam Ho Travel said: "At the end of the day, people go to Bintan or Bali for the beach experience."
Mr Ong Han Jie, managing director of EU Asia Holidays, said it may shift its promotions to focus on adventurous activities to attract groups of friends and interest groups.
Civil servant Rachel Wee, 25, who has plans to go to Bali for a short holiday with her boyfriend, said she will change her mind if Indonesia passes the new law, even if it does not come into effect immediately.
She said: "Most couples go there for a romantic holiday, so it defeats the purpose if we can't behave intimately or have to stay in separate rooms. We would be better off going to places like Krabi."
However, Mr Joseph Ho, 27, who works in a bank, said he would not be deterred as he feels it would be hard to enforce such a law.
"I will just make other arrangements, such as Airbnb. There are so many loopholes, and I think people will find a way to do whatever they want if they want to."