[Customs to Tighten Control on Accompanying Luggage] last week's coverage of plans by Indonesia's customs officials to impose strict controls on the amount of personal effects people can carry into Indonesia brought a large number of spirited responses. Here's a sampling:
• Adrian Muhammad Lawson wrote:
"Dumb idea, will affect tourism - many have hand phones and laptops they bring to keep in contact with friends, (these) shouldn't be taxed."
• Lisa M. has this to say:
"Indonesia wants to increase tourism by 5 million for ? We have to pay $25 to get in, another $15 to get out…$25 to get transport to Ubud. . .300% tax on wine and alcohol ... up to 20% tax and service and NOW a duty tax for my personal belongings? I always travel with my camera, cell phone, blackberry, laptop, new cosmetics, new bathing suits and new dresses and earrings, bracelets, rings, and necklaces. This is an unrealistic duty charge. Why bother to come to Indonesia then? And will the duty fees go into the correct hands? I feel like tourists are merely being looked at as personal ATM. Frustrating."
• Simon Hunter added:
"Sounds to me like yet another monumental 'stuff up' - a money grabbing exercise by the vacuous airport/customs officials in Bali. Why am I not surprised at another stupid scheme . . . who thinks up these ridiculous ideas?"
• Michael Edwards from Australia contributed:
"This a very disturbing article. I am a frequent visitor to Bali and always travel with my laptop, mobile phone, camera, watch and jewelry, etc. All of these items are of good quality and I suppose, valuable! I also travel with my partner, so all the above is doubled. Our next visit to Bali will be the end of Jan 2011."
"Your article suggests that this regulation would attract import duty to our personal belongings. I would be outraged, if I had to pay duty on items I have had for some time and worth considerably less than when I purchased them."
"We already pay US$25 for a visa. We can travel to other countries in Asia with out a visa, any further costs to enter the Bali ports would indeed have us rethinking our destination in the future."
"We adore the people of Bali. We spend our time on the island having a cultural infusion. We have become accustomed to being seen as a rupiah tree and we contribute where we can, particularly to those in need of the rupiah we bring with us."
"'Unclear' jumps out at me in the article. I don't think that works for anyone leaving their own country to visit another if its 'unclear' what they can expect on arrival. Also 'unclear' can lead to corrupt interpretations of the Ministerial regulation by those empowered to collect the duty. Our next visit is booked and paid for, so I 'guess' we will see how it works soon enough."
• Deborah sent the following email:
"So, does this mean one brings an $800 laptop with them, they pay duty on that and they pay duty on everything else in their luggage? Do you have to prove the worth of everything? Why not just raise the airport tax, AGAIN!"
• Alan from New Zealand said:
"Jakarta's central government obviously don't want tourism, and the foreign exchange they bring to Bali. My camera is worth (over four times the allowable value. What chance would I have of being refunded custom's duty on departure?"
• Linda Baker, also from Australia, wrote:
"I cannot believe that the Indonesian government would even think about bringing in something like this. Do they want tourist to keep coming to Bali or not? It is the most absurd idea I have heard in a long time. Wake up and make it easier for tourists to come not harder. $US250 would not even cover a laptop to use while over there. - Hopefully common sense will prevail!"
• Peter Dundas added his thoughts:
"I can spend $500 ++ or more per night in Bali, and you are going to tax me on bringing my Camera, iPhone, Laptop & expensive clothing on arrival and departure? How to destroy tourism in one simple step!"
• Dell said:
"Is this a serious article? When most of us Australian tourists go to Bali we take our laptop, jewelry a watch and camera. Have just done a calculation and I would take around about $2000.00 worth of these articles on each holiday. They cannot be serious about this tax for ordinary holidaymakers to Bali. If so, we will skip Bali as there are plenty of other destinations to choose from. This would discourage tourists."
• Doug Raymond of Australia:
"How can this work? My wife and I carry a laptop plus 2 smart phones value $AU2600. That's without any other personal effects. The Indonesian government must be going out of its way to upset tourists. If coming to Bali is a drama, we may look elsewhere. We recently booked a trip for 27 people to Bali for next July."
• Stephan Miller brought a degree of cynicism to the discussion:
"An ingenious way of drastically reducing tourism in Indonesia! Less tourism = less development = sustainable Bali!"
•A French reader, Liza, said:
"How absolutely ridiculous. Today's average tourist has a mobile phone, computer, watch, jewelry and quite a few changes of nice clothes while on holiday. Are the customs going to go through every-one's cases and count items? It will then take us 24 hours to get through the gates!"
• Lee fired back:
"Has Indonesia turned into a dictatorship? If someone is not bringing in drugs, guns, ammo, liquor, porno or any other harmful thing then why is it their business to tax it? What harm are someones personal belongings doing to them? What is the real purpose of this policy? Is it just a way to rip people off for money. Don't they realize they already paid for their items, their luggage fees, and the taxes on it in their own country? Really this policy makes no sense."
• Gerard Hoffman had this to say:
"Hurrah, Hurrah! Now I may never come to Bali again! There are in my own country enough pick pockets to rip me off!"
• Michael Lastra wrote to say:
"Oh my, I think the government in Jakarta is trying to kill tourism in Bali. $250 dollars limit -I easily carry $3000 in my carry-on alone. Wake up Bali! The corrupt officials are taking over...one more way to tap that 'Bule' ATM."
"Beware, it is becoming more and more unfriendly to visit Bali...keep it up and the tourist economy will collapse. But, maybe that is exactly what the extremists masquerading as the legislators want. Then everyone in Indonesia can be dirt poor."
• Geoff Lloyd said:
What a joke! Firstly, the Minister should take a good hard look at excessive personal belongings on every day domestic flights and see if he can regulate that mess. Secondly the customs officers will do deals with incoming passengers and the Minister will see hardly any revenue from this latest tirade from him. Get real mate!"
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