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Al Purwa Calls for Action to Stop Gypsy Transport

Tour Association Chairman Complains that Frequent Complaints to Government Continue to be Ignored.

(3/22/2008) The Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) is complaining about the lack of official action against Bali's huge fleet of illegal "gypsy" taxis operating tours and transfers across the island.

Al Purwa, the Chairman of ASITA-Bali, was quoted by BisnisBali as stating that despite frequent complaints to the Bali Tourism Authority, no official action has been taken to curve illegal transport operators in Bali.

According to Purwa, the Tourism Authority and the Police should take action based on the complaints filed by Bali's licensed tourism operators. Purwa added that the "black number plates" or illegal taxis continue to cause losses to the law-abiding members of ASITA who follow transport rules and pay taxes.

Explained Purwa: "Not only do these illegal taxis operating without licenses cause losses to licensed travel agencies, but also to the tourists who use their services. When there is an accident or some other incident, the tourists who are passengers in these vehicles receive no insurance compensation from the illegal transportation operators."

Purwa said that he hopes the government will soon take appropriate action to close down the illegal transport operators and protect the tax revenues Bali derives from licensed operators.

"If the current situation is allowed to continue," said Purwa, "Bali's image as a tourism destination will be damaged, such as in the past when tourists have been criminally attacked while riding in illegal local transport."

Some local tourism observers have suggested that spontaneous and unscheduled "razia" or "police roadblocks" introduced on main roads in Bali manned by police, tourism officials and volunteers from ASITA would soon put an end to illegal taxi operations. Illegal transport found with tourist passengers on board would be stopped and its passengers required to transfer to waiting metered taxis to either continue their tour or return to their hotels. Such steps, while seen as drastic by some, would almost instantaneously destroy any appeal of using unlicensed vehicles.