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When Tourists are Viewed as Commodities

Bali Conference and Meeting Leader Brands Plans for US$10 Heritage Protection Fee as Irrelevant

Bali News: Bali, Indonesia, Heritage Protection Fee, Tutik Kusuma Wardhani, Lolec, Ida Bagus Surakusuma, INCCA
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The chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Congress and Convention Association (INCCA), Ida Bagus “Lolec” Surakusuma, has spoken out against Bali’s plans to charge foreign tourists a US$10 Heritage Protection Fee beginning in 2013.

Lolec told Bisnis Bali that tourists visiting Bali could be broken down into three categories: leisure travelers, meeting and conference participants (MICE), and cruise passengers.

The well-known veteran in the Bali travel industry warned that the government of Bali would encounter many obstacles and complaints in its plans to levy the US$10 fee.

Lolec foresees that MICE operators will be required to add US$10 per person to every delegate coming to a meeting or conference in Bali. Saying this charge will shock the market and make conference bids non-competitive, he sees a risk that business will divert to other destinations, such as Singapore.

Also presenting challenges is the cruise sector, according to Lolec. When an 1,000 passengers cruise ships calls on Bali, but only 300 go on Bali land programs, will the US$10 charge be applied to all passengers – even those who do not disembark the ship?

Delving further into the topic, Lolec asks whether domestic tourists by both air and via the overland route would also be charge the US$10 heritage protection fee? How would plans to divert US$5 from the US$10 fee to provide accident and health insurance in Bali work with domestic visitors? Meanwhile, most tourists coming to Bali have already arranged insurance coverage before they travel. Branding the US$10 fee as “irrelevant,” he sees the fee as a further unnecessary complication in addition to the already high hotel and restaurant tax (10%) and visa-on-arrival fees.

“Tourists need to be facilitated, not the reverse of encountering difficulties by adding another US$10 fee,” said Lolec.

Lolec warns that the heritage protection fee has the potential to “boomerang.” He says Indonesian travelers would complain if charged a similar US$10 fee every time they visited Singapore, he called on the government to stop viewing tourists as “commodities.”

Ida Bagus Surakusuma said the government needs to consult with tourism stakeholders before introducing the proposed US$10 heritage fee. He said practitioners in the tourism industry have a much more sophisticated understanding how tourism actually operates than that held by lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Commission II of the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali) Tutik Kusuma Wardhani declared that the US$10 heritage protection fee was still under discussion and that the opinion of stakeholders would be sought before any change is made in policy.

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