Higher tourism tax likely to deter misbehaving visitors

Bali’s provincial legislative council has proposed raising its tourism tax from 150,000 rupiah (RM43) to around US$50 (RM235.44) in a bid to deter misbehaving tourists from visiting the popular Indonesian resort island, reported Kompas.

“I think the 150,000 rupiah tax is too low, so Bali seems like a cheap tourist destination,” Bali’s council leader Kresna Budi told reporters after a council meeting on June 19.

“Why should Bali be sold cheaply?” he said, citing as an example that Indonesians need to pay millions of rupiah to obtain a visa when visiting Britain.

He added that people who visit Bali should be of “higher quality” and not those who brazenly violate local laws and disrespect local norms.

“There is this problem because usually, those who act up are members of the bottom layer (lower-spending tourists),” he was quoted as saying in The Bali Sun.

Kresna suggested that a portion of the tax collected could be used to set up a tourism police unit to handle tourist issues specifically.

The proposal is now being considered by Bali’s acting governor.

Kresna also said he hoped immigration authorities at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport could collect the tax more efficiently, adding that a percentage of the tax collected could be allocated to immigration and airport authorities.

Since the implementation of the tourist tax on Feb 14, only 40% of an estimated 2.2 million inbound visitors to Bali have paid up, according to the island’s tourism agency.

Plans to install automated scanners at the airport fell through because of space constraints, said Bali tourism chief Tjok Bagus Pemayun.

He noted that many foreigners could have avoided the tax payment by entering Bali from the airport’s domestic arrival gate, as enforcement at the international arrival section is tighter.

Funds from the tourism tax were intended to be channelled towards the improvement of the island’s education and health sectors.

Bali welcomed 5.24 million foreign visitors, or 45% of overall foreign visitors to Indonesia, in 2023. — The Straits Times/ANN

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