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When Chinese Tourists get Shanghaied in Bali

Illegal Websites and Unlicensed Guides Accused of Poaching Chinese Tourists in Bali.

(5/7/2011) The "hijacking" of guests among travel agencies and tourist guides remains a common phenomenon in Bali. According to Radar Bali, the Bali branch of the Indonesian Guide Association – (HPI) is calling on the government to take firm steps to eliminate this practice, particularly as it is practiced by unlicensed travel companies operating on the Internet.

Chandra Salim, the chairman of the Mandarin division of the HPI, complains that in 2011 there have already been five cases in which Mandarin speaking groups have been "hijacked" by unlicensed agencies and guides using the Internet. Adding: "If the government does not take firm action, this situation will continue to worsen over the years to come. For this reason we hope action is taken against illegal guides and illegal travel operators."

Salim's comments were made at a signing ceremony between HPI and the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) held in the last week of April 2011.

Citing an example of bad practice currently taking place in Bali, Salim spoke of a recent Taiwanese group being handled by a licensed guide and scheduled to visit a local spa who were taken over by an unlicensed guide offering cut-bone prices.

He said such practice often results in complaints from guest who fall victim to inferior service. In 2010 some 30 cases of illegal guide services were received; each case threatening to damage the tourism image of the island.

"All parties need to be aware of this situation, said Salim, "we are running into hotel staff who suddenly become guides. We hope their places of employment will give stern sanctions when staff are discovered to be acting as guides. Their actions will certainly do damage to Bali's reputation."

In response, Hartono, the chairman of Bali Liang - the Chinese tourism section of ASITA, said closer cooperation was needed between HPI and ASITA to reduce bad practice. He said an understanding is needed where Mandarin-speaking guides no longer make payments directly to supplers while leading groups as this is the responsibility of the tour agent. At the same time, ASITA must agree to only use licensed Mandarin-speaking guides form HPI for Chinese-speaking groups. "Such regulations would help avoid unhealthy competition between tour agencies or with guides. It will also improve professionalism and quality service," explained Hartono.