Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster has recently confirmed that his government will be proceeding with bringing a mandatory tourism tax into provincial law.
The move has triggered a mixed bag of feelings in Bali lovers, but tourists are being assured that tax spending will be transparent.
On the 12th of July, Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster announced that he would be introducing a mandatory tourism tax for all foreigners arriving on the island.
The new tourism tax is set to be implemented in 2024, though if legislation is signed off quickly, the launch of the new policy could be brought forward.
Governor Koster has proposed that the new tourism tax be set at a fixed rate of IDR 150,000 per person, payable only in Indonesian Rupiah.
The provincial leader believes that the implementation of a tourism tax will help protect and preserve the unique cultural heritage and fragile ecosystems of the Island of the Gods.
Speaking at the time of the announcement, Governor Koster said, “Bali’s nature has become a major national and world tourism destination and has indeed made a positive contribution to Bali itself and nationally,” He added, “But on the other hand, it has also had a serious negative impact.”
The solution, he says, is to implement a tourism tax alongside existing efforts to shift towards more high-quality and sustainable tourism.
Koster explained, “In order to protect the glory of Balinese culture and the quality of the natural environment, it is very necessary to make concrete efforts in mutual cooperation with all parties related to Bali Tourism.”
Naturally, there has been both praise and critique for the new policy change, both from prospective tourists and tourism stakeholders.
One thing everyone seems to be in agreement on, however, is that the tax spending must be transparent.
The Deputy Governor of Bali, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, known more often by his nickname Cok Ace, has given his absurdities to the public about how funds will be used.
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Speaking to the media in Denpasar this week, Cok Ace said tax spending “is always transparent and nothing is covered up here with ‘stakeholders,’ with the council/DPRD and the executives are always open.”
Cok Ace also answered questions about the finer details of the proposed tourism tax. Many people want to know whether the proposed IDR 150,000 will be enforced as a flat fee for all foreigners entering Bali or whether concession rates will be available.
The Deputy Governor said, “The discussion hasn’t ended yet (regarding tourism tax for children). But there are exceptions everywhere, [it’ll likely] be the same case later.”
There is also public discussion about whether students and researchers, as well as children, will be required to pay the tourism tax.
Cok Ace insisted that all avenues are being explored at the moment. He added, “later, we will see how much of an impact this will have on Bali because many researchers have been invited by institutions in Bali [to assess the situation].”
The topic of the proposed tourism tax is a big discussion amongst tourism stakeholders in Bali, as well as between frequent visitors to Bali.
The Head of the Bali Tourism Office, Tjok Bagus Pemayun, shared his insights on the situation as it unfolds.
Pemyaun said that the tax looks like it will be bought into force in 2024. He explained, “Because it is still in the formulation process, of course, it cannot be executed. Because the direction is indeed next year.”
He confirmed that when the legislation that is currently in place to encourage tourists in Bali to make a voluntary donation to the upkeep of the island will be scrapped when the mandatory tourism tax is introduced.
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