In the last few days, the term ‘begpacker’ has become somewhat a trend in Indonesian. Begpacker is is a play and contraction of the English words ‘beg’ and ‘backpackers’. To give it an oversimplified description of the term, begpackers are people from developed countries who travel to less-developed ones to have a vacation without money. They often beg and busking with the intention that the locals would help them fund their leisure travel around the world.
However, the begpackers have since also moved to Southeast Asia. This phenomenon has become so rampant that many governments take a strict stance against it. Indonesia has just shown a firm stance against begpacking. The government should take a sterner stance over this because this practice harms the tourism industry in the country. There are several good reasons why the government must stop this practice at once.
Doesn’t bring money in
The whole tourism business revolves on the idea that the tourist would bring a surge of income to the destination country by enjoying the hospitality. This, in turn, would help the local economy to grow. This is the reason why Indonesia give easy access to tourists from western countries. A tourist visa is free, you can practically enter Indonesia as long as you can afford the ticket to go there. Just show your passport and no question will be asked. With this policy, the government hopes that the number of tourists will increase and there will be a surge of income in tourist destinations.
If you see it from a post-colonialism point of view, you can see that white men and women begging and busking in Southeast Asia is another example of white privileges. Many able-bodied white young men and women wear a blindfold and then offer ‘free hug’ for donation in return. They are trying to take advantage of the fact that some Indonesians still has the ‘inlander’ mentality, a product of centuries of colonialism. They still think that white people are superior to their own kind. Seeing white people begging is such a shock to many.
Unfair for Indonesians
While many of these people from western countries can freely enter Indonesia as long as they have the passport and one way ticket, Indonesians don’t have such privilege. If an Indonesian wants to enter a western country, they need to apply for a visa and it’s not free. They will also be required to show a minimum of income, money available during the trip, a return ticket, hotel reservations, insurance, precise itineraries, and contacts in the country. Nothing easy and instant about that.
Last but not least, begpacking is simply illegal. First, Indonesia has been trying hard to eradicate begging practice. It is a huge social issue in Indonesia and foreigner doing the same would only add the already heavy load of the government. Secondly, people who come with tourist visa are not supposed to earn money in Indonesia. Furthermore, most western countries have much better social welfare net than a developing country like Indonesia.
Some begpackers thinks it is cool to travel around the world without spending their own money. They feel they are entitled to such leisure of traveling. Some say it’s millennial’s entitlement mentality. Whatever it is, the government need to protect tourism in Indonesia by ending the begpacking practice.