Leaders in Bali have committed to eliminating the practice of ‘gacong’ from the island.
Gacong is the local word used to refer to tour guides who put pressure on tourist attractions to pay them a commission for bringing guests, despite not having a business relationship with the venue.
The practice has been widespread across Bali’s biggest tourism resorts for years. Leaders and the authorities have been trying to stamp out the practice to help keep tourists safe against unlicensed guides and protect local businesses from their dodgy tactics.
In recent months more gacong guides have been operating in and around the Nusa Dua area.
The unscrupulous guides have been targeting tourists walking around the resort and encouraging them to take trips out to the watersports activity centers in nearby Tanjung Benoa.
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The Head of the South Kuta Subdistrcit, I Ketut Gee Arta, has shared his concern that the practice of gacong is still happening along Jalan Pratama.
Arta explained, “We actually carry out regular controls, but there are still cats and mice. Apart from that, we have also invited water sport owners to the District Head’s Office, as well as the parent Maritime Tourism Business Organization.”
“Until we make an agreement for those who receive guests from Gacong, their business is ready for action, and it has even been signed by all tourism actors.”
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He added that he has called on the support of the Civil Service (Satpol PP) to tackle the issue once and for all. He noted that there have been reports of gacong guides using hostile tactics against business owners.
Arta noted, “If the car is banged on, it is uncomfortable and makes you afraid. This includes the tourism environment, we hope that all parties will comply with the minutes. We also encourage the public to play an active role in reporting this matter.
Gede Arta emphasized that he continues to coordinate with Satpol PP, the Tourism Service, and the police to ensure appropriate action is taken by tour guides operating on the streets and from tour kiosks.
He shared, however, it could be impossible to eliminate gacong completely. Nevertheless, he is optimistic that the actions underway can reduce the negative impact of gacong practices in Nusa Dua.
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“It’s not us who can close the business; it’s the relevant stakeholders who can close it. So I can’t take action, it’s the Satpol PP investigators who take action.”
“In the future, there will definitely be further coordination, we will carry out coordination as a step forward.”
Tourists planning their visits to Bali need to be aware of gacong practices, but it’s also not something to panic about.
Gacong guides pose little threat to tourists since their pain priority is to extort commissions or service charges from the attractions they bring guests to.
Avoiding booking with a gacong guide is pretty straightforward. Tourists must only book drivers and tour guides who can produce their licenses, who work for a reputable and officially registered tour company, or who come by recommendation of a fellow traveler.
Tourists can avoid accidentally booking with a gacong guide by not paying for tours and day trips from guides they meet on the street.
While in many cases the tour guides offer their services to tourists as they walk around the resorts, this is the primality tactic of gacong guides.
If in doubt, tourists can always book tours, taxis, and travel experiences through their accommodation to be doubly sure everything is above board.
Tourists can rest assured that this is an issue the authorities in Bali are taking seriously.
Last month, the Head of Badung Civil Service, I Gusti Agung Ketut Suryanegara, told reporters he and his teams are monitoring the situation in Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa.
He said, “We hope that this water sports service uses polite and friendly guides, which can improve the image and popularity of the water sports business.”
He added, “This is not only about enforcing the rules but also about creating a positive and enjoyable tourism environment for tourists.”
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