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Taxation without Consultation

Bali Tourism Leaders Complain that US$10 Increase in VOA Introduced without Prior Consultation or Warning

(7/12/2014) The increase in the Visa-on-Arrival fee (VOA) in Indonesia from US$25 to US$35 dollars is being roundly criticized by many in Bali's tourism industry.

Bisnis Bali quotes Bagus Surya Dharma, the director of the Nusa Dua Bali Convex, complaining that the Presidential decree of May 30, 2014 and its implemented one month later was done without consultation with the tourism industry and with little socialization to those affected by the decision.

As a result, many tourists are complaining that they were not informed in advance of the increase in the VOA fee. Similarly, tour companies who have designed packages that include the visa fee have suffered a loss of US$10 due the increased visa fee that they will now have to absorb.

Bagus Surya Dharma, who also serves on the MICE committee (meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition) of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA), said the change in policy was done without any input from tourists or operators in the tourism industry. More to the point, the increase in fees was introduced, he said, in the midst of many complaints from Bali visitors about long lines at Bali's airport, unfriendly service from airport workers and illegal fees demanded by immigration and customs officials.

The chairman of the Bali Tourist Promotion Board (BPPD), Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati (Cok Ace), also expressed his disappointment with the increase in the cost of the VOA. Saying the timing of the increase was wrong, Cok Ace said any increase should have been preceded with input from the tourism industry and sufficient prior notification to tourist visitors,

Cok Ace, who also serves as the chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), said the recent influx of tourists diverting from Thailand should not be greeted with an increase in visa fees, but, instead, with a higher level of service.

Complaints are also heard from many sectors that the millions of dollars collected from VOA fees are all sent to Jakarta with no portion preserved for use by the province of Bali. While some of these revenues come back to Bali in special allocations from the Central Government, disaffection persists from those who claim the amount of money sent back to Bali is disproportionately small in comparison  to the amount collected in Bali.

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