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Where’s the Umpire?

Bali Update’s Editor Speaks Out at Tourism Gathering Held at the Bali Tourism Board


A “Talk Show Morning”  was held at the Bali Tourism Board on Tuesday, July 17, 2012, and presided over by Ritzki Handayani, the individual in charge of promoting meetings, incentive, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) at the Ministry of Tourism and the Creative Economy.

As reported by Bisnis Indonesia from the morning gathering, John M. Daniels, the President Director of Bali Discovery Tours and Editor of Bali Update, cited the limitations on infrastructure as a fundamental problem impeding the development of Bali’s tourism industry, especially in the MICE sector.

Daniels suggested that the central and provincial governments were overly concerned with developing infrastructure projects to accommodate a major summit planned for Bali in 2013, rather than developing a long-term and more sustainable approach to dealing with development.

Speaking at the gathering, he said he was “fed up” with pronouncements that Bali’s many infrastructure projects were being prepared in anticipation of the 2013 APEC Summit to be held in Bali. “It as though the world will come to an end one day after APEC ends,” lamented Daniels.

Elaborating further, Daniels told the group: “The struggle of tourism is a struggle for the people of Bali. Better roads, improved airports, new toll roads, underpasses and improved sewers are for the betterment of the daily lives of the people who live in Bali. These improvements will, of course, also be enjoyed by visiting tourists who will find Bali more user-friendlier. ”

Daniels said a more sustainable and people-oriented view regarding the why and wherefore of developing Bali’s infrastructure must be adopted.

The President Director of a company handling a number of major conferences and international sporting events in Bali, Daniels also leveled criticism at the high cost of adult beverages in Indonesia. High taxes on wine, spirits and beer, he said, only serve to make Indonesia non-competitive in the region in securing its share of the MICE market.

Moreover, the tax rates on alcoholic beverages, which are the highest in the region, have fostered a large black market that effectively nullifies any positive benefit from tax revenues on these products that might otherwise earn revenues for the State.

Saying the responsible consumption of beer, wine and spirits are crucial components of the MICE business culture. Per person charges in excess of US$60-70 for three-hours of open bar service at some major hotels render Bali unattractive to many MICE events. With the loss of the business, Daniels continued, hotel occupancies suffer; employment is suppressed and total tax revenues fall far short of their potential.

Where's the Umpire?

Likening Bali’s tourism industry to a soccer match lacking an umpire, Daniels accused the government of failing to honor their part of the social covenant that should be kept with all legal and registered investors in Bali. Daniels added: “Hotels and travel companies who register their business, perform environmental impact studies, follow zoning regulations, obey rules on minimum wages, pay taxes and obtain work permits for their foreign workers are compelled to compete with illegal and unregistered hotels, villas and travel companies who operate openly with little regard for the ‘rules of the game.”

Daniels also underlined the irony that with the announcement of each new crackdown on illegal travel businesses in Bali, government teams are dispatched and undertake raids and surveys on legally established registered businesses, wasting time by asking them time and again to prove their legal status. Meanwhile, businesses operating completely outside the law are left largely untouched by these same officials who claim they have “no legal basis” to move against companies that technically do not exists on their books.

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