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Bringing Tears to Ngurah Rai's Eye

More Reports of Schemes and Rackets at Bali's Airport.

(10/31/2009) The Jakarta Post raised the specter of more official shenanigans underway at Bali's international airport with reports that errant baggage porters and immigration officials are on the prowl for illegal fees.

One report claimed baggage handlers were demanding excise tax from departing tourist carrying large amounts of locally purchased goods. The fictitious tax is completely at odds with government efforts to increase the spending of tourist visitors and a VAT tax rebate scheme soon to be introduced in early 2010.

Several tourists, clearly irritated at the request, have been circulating angry emails which formed the basis of The Jakarta Post report.

According the Jakarta daily: "Ngurah Rai Airport staffers have a long and ugly history of attempting to extort illegal fees in the name of taxes or fines from visitors."

The same article told of a 2007 incident in which Dorothy Longhurst, a cancer survivor on a recuperative trip to Bali, was put back on a plane with her husband to Australia when she refused to pay US$4,000 to overcome the technical illegality of only having 5 months and 2 weeks validity remaining in her passport. Immigration procedures for Indonesia require 6 months remaining validity and several empty pages in the passports of arriving foreign tourists.

The 2007 incident caused an uproar and prompted the itercession of the then Vice-President, Jusuf Kalla, who insisted the culpable immigration officer be fired.