Businesspeople reject US$10 levy for tourists

Tour operators in Bali have expressed their objection to the planned US$10 levy on every tourist proposed by the provincial administration and legislative council. The provincial administration and legislature are currently drawing up a draft ordinance related to efforts to preserve the culture and environment, funds for which would be derived from every foreign visitor at an amount of $10. The amount includes “additional” insurance in the event of undesirable occurrences during their vacation. Bali chapter Indonesia Tourism Industry Association (GIPI) head Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya said the planned policy would be very unfair because it had never been discussed with the industry.

He deemed a number of tourism organizations that existed so far were apparently neglected. He reiterated that his organization was also formed based on the law, so it was entitled to be included in policy decisions related to tourism. “We are very disappointed, but we still hope for unanimity in seeking a solution because it is still a draft. We will try to be included in discussions to know what the administration exactly wants,” said Wijaya. Tourists in Bali already had many costs, for accommodation and dining, the visa on arrival (VoA) fee and entrance tickets to a number of tourist attractions.

“Not to mention parking, toilets and other forms of levies which we are not aware of, including illegal levies implemented by irresponsible persons. We’ve just heard about the new levy. In other countries, there is no such thing,” said Wijaya, a hotel entrepreneur. He added that cultural and environmental conservation should be carried out with independent funds. If funds were required from other people, especially tourists, they should be voluntary in nature, especially as a significant amount of taxes had already been imposed on them, such as the VoA and hotel and restaurant tax.

Wijaya emphasized that the funds, at least partly, should be used for cultural and environmental preservation. Transparency should be requested on the VoA, which is directly submitted to the central government, and it could be allocated for Bali. Corporate Social Responsibility funds could also be managed in an integrated manner for preservation purposes. The commitment of each corporation to provide CSR funds could be evaluated and disbursement encouraged within existing rules. Apart from the amount of levy, Wijaya deemed the planned imposition unfair, because it was intended for foreign visitors only, despite the fact more than 6 million domestic visitors flocked to Bali annually.

Senior tour operator Bagus Sudibya shared similar thoughts. He said that for hotel and restaurant tax collection, a clause in the law stated its utilization, among other things, was to improve tourist destination attractions. For Bali, the attraction is none other than its nature and culture. “Now, we want to know about its utilization over the years, who manages the tax and what percentage has been allocated for nature and culture. Regarding the VoA, we have been pushing the central government for a kind of profit-sharing,” said Sudibya, adding that if the planned levy was imposed, it would be a double tax.

He also expressed hope for transparency on the amount of revenue and utilization carried out by managements of tourist attractions. “The administration receives income from entrance tickets and parking fees and other services. The income should have been allocated for quality improvement of the concerned places. So, everyone should be open, don’t only chase after businessmen to pay taxes. The administration should draw visitors with its own money,” said Sudibya.

Bali chapter Indonesia Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) head Tjokorda Oka Arta Ardana Sukawati said utilization of hotel and restaurant tax had not been transparent so far, especially the percentage submitted by Badung and Denpasar, to develop destinations in other regencies (outside Badung, Denpasar and Gianyar). “The utilization should be clear because apart from the relatively huge amount of funds, many other things could be done with the funds,” said Sukawati.

source : bali daily

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