Two American tourists were deported and banned from entering Indonesia for six months after a series of posts promoting an e-book with tips on how to move to Bali during the pandemic.
Kristen Gray, who lived in Indonesia for over a year with her partner, posted on Twitter the story of her successful move to a tropical island. She also encouraged the purchase of a jointly written guide for people who would like to move there during the ongoing pandemic.
Both women received a wave of criticism from internet users, and local authorities recognized that the American women had broken immigration regulations and sent them back to the US.
Gray, 28, wrote in a series of public tweets that she decided to move to Bali after being unable to find a job in the United States for a long time. In early 2020, she and her partner Saundra Michelle Alexander bought one-way tickets to Indonesia and decided to stay in the Asian country following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tourist worked as a graphic designer and on social media praised the luxurious lifestyle she could afford in Indonesia. She also encouraged the purchase of an e-book she wrote, in which she advised on how to move to Bali during the pandemic.
However, the entries published last weekend sparked criticism and discussion about the privileges enjoyed by foreigners and the model of Indonesian tourism. Internet users from Southeast Asian countries accused Gray and Alexander of being culturally insensitive, promoting a false image of Indonesia, gentrifying, and using the privileged position of relatively wealthy people from a rich country to live comfortably and ignore the law.
"Why do Americans think their peace of mind is worth gentrifying an entire island, driving the locals off their land and forcing them to do low-paying jobs when everything is built here for foreigners," asked one blog platform user, criticizing Australian visitors.
Some of the internet users noted that women persuaded foreigners to come to a country that had closed its borders due to the worsening epidemic situation. Indonesia is the region most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to official data, 952 thousand people were recorded in the 270-million-strong archipelago. illnesses and nearly 30 thousand. deaths.
Women who emphasized the moral tolerance of the Balinese were also criticized by Indonesian sexual minorities. People identifying with the LGBT community have pointed out that while homosexuality is legal in most of Indonesia, LGBT people face violence and persecution by the police.
In the end, Indonesian authorities found that Gray and Alexander's business and sale of the guide violated the terms of the tourist visa that allowed the American women to stay in Bali.
Before the women were sent back to Los Angeles, unable to return for 6 months, the local media published their images, return tickets and passports. “I am not guilty, I did not stay in the country after the visa expiry date. I did not earn in Indonesian rupees in Indonesia either. I posted an LGBT statement and being deported for LGBT, Gray told local reporters. Her attorney, Erwin Siregar, reported that the woman maintained her innocence but apologized if her behaviour was found to be offensive.