In 2024 Bali will be introducing a mandatory tourism tax for all international visitors to the island. The controversial new policy has been the focal point of significant public discussion.
Local leaders, business owners, and tourists who regularly visit Bali have a vast array of opinions on the upcoming tax levy.
In mid-July, Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster announced that the long-speculated tourism tax would come into effect in 2024.
He announced that he and his provincial government had submitted the necessary legislative documents in order to bring the localized tourism tax into effect by the middle of next year.
Speaking at the time of the announcement Governor Koster said that the new tourism tax is vital if the island wants to promote and protect its cultural and natural heritage, as well as develop a new era of high-quality and sustainable tourism.
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Governor Koster explained, “Bali’s nature has become a major national and world tourism destination.”
He added that tourism “has indeed made a positive contribution to Bali itself and [Indonesia] nationally, but on the other hand, it has also had a serious negative impact.”
The mandatory tourism tax is necessary, in Governor Koster’s view, “in order to protect the glory of Balinese culture and the quality of the natural environment.”
He also shared that the tax “is very necessary to make concrete efforts in mutual cooperation with all parties related to Bali Tourism.”
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During the initial announcement, he did not outline a proposed budget for how and where funds generated by the tourism tax will be spent. The tax is set to be introduced at IDR 150,000 per person, including children.
The fee will only be payable in Indonesian Rupiah in order to combat any fluctuations in the international currency exchange.
Since Governor Koster has yet to outline how the tourism tax will be spent, other local leaders, business owners, residents, and tourists are speculating about how best the funds can be used.
It is a well-acknowledged fact that Bali is struggling to get a grip on its mounting waste management issues and growing traffic congestion.
These are both problems that many local stakeholders feel could and should be fixed through the tourism tax.
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Local tourism leader Wisnu Arimbawa has spoken to reporters about how he and his teams hope to see the tourism tax spent.
Bali is set to welcome over 4.5 million international tourists this year, and targets will likely be even higher in 2024.
With this in mind, leaders in Bali can expect to have access to billions of rupiah worth of tax revenue to utilize in a way that benefits local communities and helps improve tourism experiences on the island.
Arimbawa told reporters, “I think the levy can later be used to deal with both problems of congestion and garbage.” He shared that traffic issues in Bali are contributing negatively to the overall tourism experience on the island.
He feels that new infrastructure should be put in place to help improve the quality and sustainability of transportation on the island.
Arimbawa noted how the most congested points on the island are only getting worse. And that these traffic congestion hotspots impact the vast majority of tourists at some point during their stay.
He used the examples of the Ngurah Rai Bypass Road area around the road to Sunrise Beach.
Of course, no mention of traffic congestion in Bali would be complete without acknowledgment of the issues in Ubud, Canggu, the Uluwatu area, and its surroundings.
He also called on leaders to assign a decent portion of the tax revenue to tackle the mounting waste management issues on the island. This is a sentiment shared by many leaders and tourism stakeholders in Bali.
Shortly after the announcement of the new tourism tax, the Indonesian Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, issued a press statement to say that he hoped Bali’s tourism tax would be used to help resolve the island’s “uncontrollable” plastic waste problem.
Many local communities are also keen to see traffic and waste management resolved through the revenue generated by the tourism tax.
Many tourists and Bali lovers are concerned that the tourism tax must be collated and spent in a transparent way.
Governor Koster has assured the public that the tourism tax will be spent in a transparent way.
He told the media, “The collection will be carried out via electronic payment and must be done before or when entering the arrival gate in Bali.
He added, “Results from levies will be managed in a transparent manner in accordance with statutory provisions with the principle of openness, which allows foreign tourists and the public to know and gain access to the widest possible information about the management and utilization of levies for foreign tourists.”
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