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It's a Mad, Mad World

Tourism Leader from Indonesian Promotion Board Brands as ‘Crazy’ Plans to Charge Foreign Tourists a US$10 Bali Heritage Fee

(11/22/2013) The Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (BPPI) is pouring disdain and scorn on a proposal from the provincial government to collect a US$10 heritage protection fee from arriving international tourists.

BPPI has labeled the proposal as “crazy.”

As reported by Bisnis Bali, BPPI says the tourism infrastructure in Bali is poor and the security systems fails to protect Island visitors. Nyoman Mangku Kandia, a member of BPPI, speaking bout the heritage protection fee said on Friday, November 22, 2013: “It’s a crazy idea. Payment of the airport tax does not go smoothly - let alone the payment of other fees and contributions. Overseas people are not charged airport tax.”

Kandia said he hoped that the provincial government would focus on infrastructure problems at tourism objects that are the subject of many complaints from tourism visitors. He wants the government to also address matters of waste disposal, security for visiting tourists, fraud practices against visitors and criminality in general.

“Don't present strange ideas before we address the many problems that form the basis of international visitors to Bali’s complaints. Don’t charge a lot of fees while the security and comfort of tourists remains unsecured. To do this is to commit suicide,” warned Kandia.

He said such a proposal in the midst of a downturn in the quality of the Bali tourism experience is ill timed. Kandia pointed to the declines in the length-of-stay and average-spend as proof of declining quality.

Kandia added: “We must enhance the quality of tourist visiting Bali. If the fee is introduced now, the foreign tourists will complain. Not all tourists coming to Bali are rich, many are traveling on a budget.”

Mangku Kandia urged the province focus on developing the traditional villages as a means to achieve a more equitable distribution of the benefits of tourism. “Via tourism villages and traditional villages as cultural envoys the heritage of Bali can be safeguarded because these locations (will) enjoy growth in tourism; not like now when everything is focused on the south of Bali,” he said.

To do this Kandia said the government needs to create supporting infrastructure such as access road and provide for the care and maintenance of tourism objects to more fairly share the economic benefits of tourism.

Plans announced by the government to charge US$10 on foreign tourists in 2014 has ignited a lively debate in Bali involving tourism industry officials and academics. Members of the tourism industry view the heritage protection fee negatively fearing the heritage protection fee will cause tourism totals to decline. Meanwhile, academics are generally in favor of the fee as a means to collect a share of the Visa-on-arrival windfall.