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Charging the Mountain Top in Bali

200% Increase in Tourist Fees at Bali's Mount Kintamani Bring Protest and Threat of Travel Agent Boycott.

(11/13/2010) In an effort to increase tax revenues earned from its tourism sector, the regional government of Bangli have suddenly decided to increase by more than 200% the "tourism retribution fee" charged to visitors to area tourist attractions from Rp. 3,300 (US$0.35) to Rp.10,000 (US$1.09) per visitor.

The suddenness of the increase and the lack of any pre-increase socialization has spawned complaints and a threat by some members of the tourism industry to boycott Bangli and divert guest to other areas, such as Bedugul.

As reported by Bali Post, the chairman of the Bangli branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bangli), I Ketut Putra Nata, praised the legitimate desire of Bangli authorities to increase local tax revenues, nut warned while any increase must follow a process of education and socialization.

"Socialization is extremely important because is involves the cost calculations used by travel agents (in calculating tour prices). What's happened in Bangli is a sudden increase in the tariff with no socialization," explained Putra Nata.

As the head of the organization for hotels and restaurants in Bangli, Putra Nata said he had no prior warning of the increase and only became aware of the price hike after hearing complaints from guide visiting Kintamani who were suddenly compelled to pay Rp. 10,000 for each guest entering the roads surrounding the Mt. Batur volcano.

Claiming that Bangli's tourism attractions were unique and incapable of being compared with other locations in Bali, Putra Nata freely admitted that the level of security and comfort provided to tourist visitors to Bangli stilled left much to be desired. Continuing, he said: "Maybe if the local government decides to increase tourism retribution fees, they need to first improve tourism facilities and socialize their decision. If the threat (of a boycott) is carried out by the travel agents, the tourism industry of Bangli will be the first to feel the effects."