Is Bali sick of misbehaving tourists? Official push for higher tax to attract ‘higher quality’ visitors

Do a quick Google search of Australian or British tourists in Bali and the results aren’t flattering. Just yesterday images of a smashed Balinese shopfront were broadcast across the world after an Australian man allegedly smashed up the store in a case of mistaken identity.

The images, shared on social media, show significant damage to the Evolve Ink store in Bali in Kuta with the front of the store completely destroyed. In further insult to injury, the fridge inside the shop has also been smashed.

This case is just the latest in a string of news stories about tourists behaving badly in Bali. In May, an American man was arrested after going on a rampage at a villa in the Tibubeneng area, North Kuta, Badung (lead image), just a few days before that another tourist destroyed a cafe in Jimbaran, South Kuta after losing his temper.

Is Bali’s new tourism tax too low?

In response to the stories, and perhaps in response to pleas from locals, officials on the island are increasingly pushing to increase the cost of visiting the island.

Earlier this year, Bali introduced a tourism tax levy of 150,000 rupiah ($15), but now officials are pushing to have this raised to around $75 in a bid to attract ‘higher quality’ visitors.

“I think the 150,000 rupiah tax is too low, so Bali seems like a cheap tourist destination,” a Balinese council leader Kresna Budi told the press after a council meeting on June 19.

“Why should Bali be sold cheaply?” the official reportedly said, highlighting that Indonesians need to pay millions of rupiah to get a visa when visiting Britain.

He went on to say that people who visit Bali should be of “higher quality” and not individuals who disrespect local laws and norms.

“There is this problem because usually, those who act up are members of the bottom layer (lower-spending tourists),” the man is quoted as saying.

Budi suggested that a portion of the tax collected should be used to set up a police force that deals exclusively with tourists.

Is it even enforceable?

Kresna’s comments come at a time when serious questions are being raised about whether the existing tax is even enforceable.

Since February 2024 when the tax was first introduced, Bali Discovery said it “has been plagued by inefficiency, with only a minority of foreign visitors actually paying the Rp. 150,000”.

The poorly-organised introduction of the tax has so far only collected Rp. 117 billion from 14 February until 12 June 2024 (around $10 million).

Budi has suggested that the immigration police at the airport collect the tax.

Last year Bali made a play for high-end travellers when it introduced its new ‘Golden Visa’. The 5-10 year Visa allows wealthy individuals to make Bali their home by making a financial contribution to the country.

Lead Image: Facebook

 

 

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