Bali tourists confused over FMD actions

Eric Barker, 12/07/2022

There is plenty of muddy options for tourists in Bali. Photo: Tripadvisor

AN EMOTIONAL response has followed the news of the devastating Foot and Mouth disease hitting the tourist hotspot of Bali – with many warning there is a significant risk it could be brought into Australia.

Agriculture minister Murray Watt has this week headed to Jakarta to hold face-to-face talks with his Indonesian counterparts, he will be accompanied by National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson and chief vet Dr Mark Schipp. Last week, the minister announced a series of measures to stop it coming through the Australian border.

A combination of Bali being a tourist hotspot and Balinese cattle being quiet and accessible for tourists to take photos has put many on edge about Australians transporting the virus home. (Click here for more that)

Plenty of campaigns from the agricultural industry have followed the news, with some calling for a ban on Bali travel and others telling tourists to buy their shoes in Bali and throw them away before they leave.

In response, Beef Central has been talking to travellers in several Facebook forums to see what their experience has been with managing the disease and how they were greeted by Australian authorities when they arrived home. The questions yielded three main responses.

  • Travellers were confused – many had clothes covered in mud and were trying to work out what to do with them.
  • Checks were happening – all travellers had reported biosecurity officers boarding the plane to explain the risks, they received brochures and they walked past sniffer dogs.
  • Bali tourism on edge – the Bali tourism industry has had a tough couple of years with COVID and many were worried about the harm FMD could inflict.

A post on one tourist forum created plenty of discussion from tourists who had been on a quad bike tour in a rural area of Bali. Most of them left with clothes covered in mud and were wondering what to do with them. The post was taken down by moderators for an unknown reason.

One of the tourists was Jane Prichard from Northern NSW, who had been on a quad bike tour and subsequently declared all her family’s clothes when they arrived back in Brisbane at the weekend.

She said her family were from a vegetable farming background and took the threat seriously, but there were mixed attitudes about FMD on the plane.

“There were definitely people on our flight that were not taking it too seriously, because the messaging from border force took some time to deliver at the end of our flight and people just wanted to disembark,” Ms Prichard said.

“They read out the warnings before we left Bali and boarded the plane when we arrived in Australia – they wouldn’t let anyone stand while they were doing that. There was also some mist sprayed onto plane at the cabin doors but I am not sure what that was for.”

Within the Bali tourism industry, Ms Prichard said there was not too much talk about FMD.

“They’re all about recouping lost income after their tourism industry has been largely decimated in the pandemic, they haven’t had tourists for more than two years and they can’t get you on these tours quick enough,” she said.

“The first I heard of it was from someone sending me a link to a news article while I was over there telling me to be extra careful when travelling home.  We also have some friends who are livestock producers, who called us because they were worried about the disease spreading to Australia.

“There was a pig farm beside our accommodation, the our hotel staff were telling us it was an Airbnb and you could stay there – which was pretty concerning.”

#throwyourthongs campaign launched

Since the incursion of FMD in Bali several businesses have been incentivising tourists to throw their shoes away before they board the plane home. Toowoomba-based Chase & Hide started the trend earlier this week offering a $20 gift voucher on its Facebook page to tourists with photo proof of them putting shoes in the bin.

National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson said buying a new pair of shoes while on holiday was an act of national service.

“Foot and Mouth Disease loves to hitchhike on shoes. That means your dirty old holiday pluggers could be the thing that brings this disaster to our shores. Don’t risk it!” Ms Simson said.

“Throw out those tired old thongs. Bin them at the airport or your hotel and post proof on social media, and we’ll help you buy a shiny new pair. It’s that simple.”

Ms Simson said if tourists were not prepared to throw away their shoes, they really needed to clean them.

“Before you pack your bag to come home, take the time to give your shoes a good clean – paying particular attention to any mud that might be caught in the tread,” she said.

“Taking that minute to clean your shoes could prevent a serious disaster back in Australia. Clean shoes are just a bonus.

“Most importantly, don’t head straight back to a farm when you get off the plane – we need to keep our country safe.”





Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Robyn Gay, 23/07/2022

    I am scheduled to visit Bali for 2 months mid September. I’m so much looking forward to my time there.

    Agreeing to leave my shoes in Bali before I return home is such a small price to pay for veing able to spend time in Bali and protect Australia.

    It could be introduced as a condition of entering Bali, that you leave your shoes behind before returning home.

  2. Diahann Lillia, 20/07/2022

    Why don’t they k ow what to do with their muddy clothes? What would they do at home? Wash them. Or too far gone, discard them. No brainer…

  3. Diahann Lillia, 20/07/2022

    This hit the news before we left Aus. We came prepared to throw out our thongs (good excuse for a new pair!) We have shoes for the plane as per their regulations for boarding. They managed Mad Cows 30 years ago they can manage this. People need to be honest and sensible. We haven’t been anywhere near farm land, we have stayed sea side. In all seriousness though, who is going to go to a farm area and wheel their luggage through manure or even dirt? Why is the Aus govt sending all the vaccines to Indonesia to treat their cattle instead of giving it to our farmers for their cattle?

  4. Alex Cowlishaw, 13/07/2022

    This FMD situation is one of the most serious threats to our country & there definitely needs to be a lot more publicity given to & action taken to prevent the devastation that FMD would cause in Australia.
    It could potentially destroy all the livestock in the country which would cripple the whole economy – with no domestic meat products to sustain the population – no export income – no dairy products – no wool – many thousands of producers could be forced into liquidation as many parts of Australia are restricted in what they can successfully produce.
    A TOTAL ban on travel to Indonesia & Bali should be enforced immediately & any of those travelers who come back from these places should be thoroughly fumigated & disinfected, & their shoes & clothing should be disposed of on arrival back in Australia.
    They should be proud enough to be Australian that they declare any prohibited produce that they might want to bring back, so that Australia & our products remain free from such devastating, debilitating diseases such as FMD.
    ALL our producer organisations should ensure that the Government enforce better surveillance & security.
    Never mind about climate change & moving to unreliable renewable energy projects, carbon neutral etc., as many of us wont survive long enough to benefit if we don’t have any food to support us because our livestock industry will have been destroyed by FMD .

  5. Bruce Redpath, 13/07/2022

    Kama day late in replying to this news re Bali and FMD
    My Jane returned from 10 days in Bali and being Agriculturally and livestock involved her group washed and disinfected all shoes etc even though they didn’t visit any farms but Bali Farmers walk the streets after feeding their livestock and tourists then walk the same areas . There was NO check on leaving Bali except the usual paper work Question Have you been on or in contact with farms livestock etc
    No check or questions on arrival in Adelaide
    The Government have to have a foot spounge like carpet that ALL passengers walk through under supervision Like NZ I believe
    It only a matter of time and if so this will be more of a correction and challenge to Australia than Covid
    It took about one week to travel the UK
    To see all the Livestock being burnt in huge bonfires was horrific All vehicles had to drive through road blocks with a tyre bath
    Unfortunately we have so many of our population that don’t understand where their food comes from and don’t understand the consequences of an FMD outbreak Thanks for the opportunity to Reply

  6. Katrina, 13/07/2022

    We have are livestock producers but also have a number which are extra special to us. I personally would find it difficult to go on if they had to be destroyed because our government allowed fmd to come to Australia.
    As if covid lock downs didn’t have enough impact of human mental health and the economics of businesses.
    How could our government expect this possibility of disease outbreak to end up better for the people of Australia and our animals?
    Looking at other farming issues at present that I’m aware of fruit fly in the River land SA. Veroa? In Bee populations. Floorings do we need another farming dilemmas?
    Why not take the largest possible measures first by stopping travel to Bali early. After all there’s many places that Australians can visit.

  7. GARY BULLER, 12/07/2022

    The financial impact of FMD would make our Covid pandemic look like a walk in the park! Not to mention the heartache, massive destruction of animals on affected farms and the buffer zones around them and family pets. The isolation of those immediately affected and mental health issues would overrun our ability to deal with it. This would be Australia’s worst nightmare.

  8. Peter Dunn, 12/07/2022

    Hopefully, tourists will listen to the NFF advice, because it will be seriously dangerous if they do not. Well done to the NFF for getting the federal minister into the Indonesian arena, where finally he may grasp the disaster potential of FMD. Sadly, the hard line environmentalists, those who glue themselves to various infrastructure, will be cheering about FMD. It could take out huge chunks of the agriculture industry, far more than they could dream their campaigns could ever achieve. Notwithstanding, we respond to them lawfully, respecting their perceived right to protest by disrupting society. If FMD does tragically reach Australia, a small silver lining is that the hardliners honeymoon will be well and truly over.

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -