Tourists in Bali’s Nusa Penida who had booked a bucket-list snorkeling and diving trip this weekend received a shock as they boarded their boats.
New rules brought into place overnight meant that tourists were charged new fees for their diving trips. The news has sparked a heated debate online.
Leaders responsible for marine conservation in Bali’s Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan have implemented a new fee for foreign tourists wishing to snorkel and scuba dive in the waters surrounding the outlying islands.
The fee is a surprising IDR 100,000 (USD 6.50) and was implemented overnight without warning.
The fee has been implemented by the Bali Provincial Government, Maritime Affairs, and Fisheries Service and was bought into place as of 1st July 2023.
Tour guides, boat operators, and tourists were all as blind-sided as one another by the news of the new compulsory and boldly named ‘retribution ticket’ required by all foreign tourists wishing to enter the ocean for snorkeling, scuba diving, or free diving off the coast of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan.
@vpetrauskaite literally crying #mantaray#nusapenida#bali#snorkeling @berniunas ♬ roslyn (slowed + reverb) – ghostly echoes & creamy & 11:11 Music Group
The move has caught tour operators off guard, and they are now in the tricky position of having no choice but to increase their tour package rates to reflect the new levy.
One tour provider in Nusa Lembongan, I Wayan Yudiarta, said he disagrees with the implementation of the new levy, especially since all tourists are charged a flat IDR 25,000 (USD 1.60) fee for visiting the outlying islands already.
Yudiarta said that officials communicated to tour guides, boat operators, and tourists on Saturday that the new fee is for “the protection and preservation of the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area.”
@brooklynlouisa THIS IS A MUST DO IN NUSA PENIDA… snorkelling with manta rays💙 This is an unforgettable experience and its so amazing to be able to see these beautiful (and massive🤣) rays like this 🤿 #bali #traveltiktok #baliplacestovisit #balitravel #travel #balithingstodo #nusapenida #nusapenidathingstodo #mantaray #mantaraybali ♬ Miracle – Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding
In Yudiarta’s opinion, a view shared by many in his position, the new few should have been socialized before being implemented.
Yudiarta told reporters, “Personally, I completely disagree, [we were] suddenly told to pay immediately.”
He continued to say that there must be greater transparency about how the funds
may be used and how and why the IDR 100,000 was agreed upon in the first place. Yudiartra, like many other tour providers in Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan, now fears that the steep hike in price will “indirectly kill tourism” on the island.
Tourism has been hard fought for in the wake of the pandemic.
@explorenusapenida Snorkeling Nusa Penida #exploenusapenida ♬ Baianá – Barbatuques
The situation quickly caught the attention of Balinese entrepreneur, social justice advocate, and community leader Ni Luh Djelantik.
In a post on her Instagram account, Djelantik called upon leaders in Klungkung Regency to reconsider whether the overnight implementation of a significant tourism tariff is the right step forward.
In a translation of her post, in which she also tagged the Indonesian Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno, Djelantik laid out her suggestions on how best to move forward.
She called on officials to invite all tourism stakeholders involved in the snorkeling and diving sector in the Nusa Penida to come together to discuss the implications, benefits, and consequences of the move.
She also asked the government to “explain in detail why the retribution is imposed, what is the benefit for the collectors and the entrepreneur’s sea tourism practitioners and of course the tourists. What is the role of the government in protecting the oceans.“
Djelantik continues to question whether the fees will help “provide a translator according to the tourist country of origin…Travelers deserve to know where their money will go and transparency [is owed to them].”
While tourism is really bouncing back in Nusa Penida, it’s still a precarious situation for many tourism businesses.
Tourists are understandably suspicious when an unexpected fee is added to their tour package without prior warning.
For the foreseeable future, it will remain the case that tourists heading out on boat tours, snorkeling, or diving trips in the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area will be required to pay the IDR 100,00 fee.
If trips have already been booked and paid for, be aware that tour providers may ask for the fee on the day.
The Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area which overs over 20,000 hectares of the ocean around Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan and is home to a rich ecosystem of marine life, including coral reefs, turtles, manta rays, sunfish, and more.
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