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Tanah Lot and Danu Bratan: The Next Besakih?

Bali Travel Agents Concerned by Ambitious Plans to Dramatically Increase Admission Tickets at Five Tabanan Tourist Sites


Five tourist objects found in the Tabanan regency of Bali are set to increase admission prices. I Ketut Ardana, a vice-chairman from the Bali branch of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA) told NusaBali, "we hope that any increase is fair because if the increase is too high there is the risk that the number of visitors could decline."

Of the five tourist objects located in Tabanan, plans are to increase admission fees by as much as 53%. However, in the case of the iconic Tanah Lot and Ulun Danu Bratan sites, the planned increase is 200% with the new cost of admission targeted at Rp. 30,000 (US$3.40). Ardana reacted, saying: "We are shocked  that they are planning an increase of 200%. If this is implemented it will be a burden for travel agents.

Ardana admits that the increase is still only a plan and remains open for discussion and negotiation. At the same time, he is fearful that the chance for reasonable discussions about a correct tariff will be impeded by the very large increase initially put forward.

ASITA represents 340 licensed travel agents in Bali who Ardana says will be burdened by the problems caused by the proposed increase in dealing with travel partners from across Indonesian and abroad. Many tour packets sold overseas already include cost components for hotels, transportation, guides and admission fees for local objects. Any sudden increase will compel agents to increase package prices already agreed far in advance with foreign travel partners.

Ardana also expressed the opinion that if admission prices are increased from the current Rp. 10,000 (US$1.15) to Rp. 30,000 (US$3.40), the net result may be to make the Indonesia tour package uncompetitive with competing tour packages from other destinations in the region.

Ardana urges that any increase be limited to no more than 25%. At the same time, he urged than any increase in admission charges be teamed with improvements in facilities and services provided to tourists, such as clean bathroom facilities.

Ardana expressed the fear that an imprudent increase in admission prices for Tanah Lot and Ulun Danu could cause these two tourist objects to go the way of Bali's Mother Tempe of Besakih. He said that over the past several years many tour companies have removed Besakih form their tour packages, because of the many problems experienced by tourists visiting Bali's most famous temple.

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