The Badung Civil Service has committed to cracking down on illegal tour guides in Bali’s most popular resorts.
The illegal tour guides, known locally as ‘gacong’ target tourists in busy resorts and offer to take them to iconic attractions. On arrival, they attempt to exhort a commission out of the tourism businesses for bringing people through the door.
The Badung Civil Service have revealed that they are taking firm steps to crack down on gangs of gacong guides operating between Nusa Dua and South Denpasar.
The Head of Badung Civil Service, I Gusti Agung Ketut Suryanegara, said more needs to be done to keep tourists safe from these unscrupulous guides.
Suryanegara told reporters “We cannot accept this gacong behavior because it is worrying. We have brought order several times up to the Tipiring Trial, but it seems there are still difficulties in providing effective sanctions.”
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He continued, “Every time there is action, we don’t get an appointment at the Denpasar District Court. We detained their ID cards, but they still didn’t show up to court.”
“We hope that this water sports service uses polite and friendly guides, which can improve the image and popularity of the water sports business.”
“This is not only about enforcing the rules but also about creating a positive and enjoyable tourism environment for tourists.”
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The Head of South Kuta Subdistrict, I Ketut Gede Arta, has spoken out about the widespread practice of gracing in the Nusa Dua area.
Guides are known to pressure tourists into signing up for watersports activities in Tanjung Benoa. These guides then put pressure on the service providers to pay them a commission despite not having a contract or even a relationship with them.
Arta confirmed that a comprehensive approach is being taken by all parties to try and stamp out this practice to help make Bali more comfortable for tourists.
He said “We have taken several steps. We have invited all water tourism owners to work together to overcome this problem.”
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“Apart from that, we have also made several joint statements and coordinated with the Maritime Tourism Business Organization.”
He added, “We do not look at their origin, whether local or non-local. Anyone who disturbs the comfort of tourists, we will monitor them and impose sanctions according to applicable regulations.”
Arta concluded, “We hope that we must remind them more often because this is our shared responsibility.”
“This awareness must grow together, and the preventive steps we take are a form of our commitment to maintaining the safety and comfort of tourists in Bali.”
Tourists can ensure that they are not getting caught up in a gacong deal by pre-booking their tour guide based on recommendations or booking experiences directly with attractions.
It is not only gacong guides that the Bali tourism sector wants to see become a thing of the past. New data shows that ultra-cheap tours of Bali are being sold to travel operators in China.
Local tourism businesses are concerned that Bali is being ‘sold for cheap’ and that this practice goes against the island-wide move to promote Bali as a destination for high-spending, longer-staying tourists.
Bali-based travel agent, Claudius Daniel, told reporters of a promotion he saw on WeChat which offered a tour package from Shenzhen City to Bali for 5 days and 4 nights for USD 128 for a practically all-inclusive trip.
Daniel explained that this particular deal appears to be a ‘buying heads’ situation. He said “Basically, this is a practice where Chinese tourists are sold to tour guides at a certain price per head.”
Despite the practice being banned in order to create a fair tourism industry it is still a widespread approach in the sector.
Daniel added “The system is that Bali is sold cheaply abroad, then the travel agent collaborates with foreign parties offers the tour guide to handle guests. The costs are borne by the tour guide, but in practice, there is a percentage of the costs borne by the guide, which can reach 70 percent.”
This practice is widely acknowledged to have been going on for decades in Bali and even though a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 25th August 2023 to especially ban the strategy, evidence suggests it’s still happening across the island.
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