On the heels of a string of incidents involving badly behaved tourists, Indonesia is floating the idea of imposing a tax for tourists.
The country's Tourism and Creative Economy Minister, Sandiaga Uno, said this week that the possibility of such a tax is currently under review, according to The Guardian and a variety of other publications. Uno told reporters that he expects the review to conclude over the coming weeks so that a decision can be made.
Business groups have expressed opposition to the proposed tax based on fears that it would cause tourists to skip visiting altogether. That would be a challenging blow for Bali's travel sector at at time when it is working to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is not the first time however, that such a tax has been suggested. Indonesia's Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, suggested such a measure earlier this month. Pandjaitan called Bali one of the world's cheapest tourist destinations, a reality that encourages “many low-income foreign visitors…leading to a rise in unruly behavior.” Pandjaitan suggested the island should shift its focus from mass tourism to becoming a quality tourism destination.
Bali is of course a legendary destination that's famous for its natural beauty, terraced rice fields and stellar surfing opportunities. Leading up to the pandemic, the destination attracted about 6.2 million international visitors each year. It's also estimated that the island's tourism industry made-up about 60 percent of the local economy, according to The Guardian.
Still, money isn't everything and Bali has been suffering from the impacts of disrespectful travelers. Locals have expressed growing anger with the bad behavior of tourists, which has included everything from tourists posing naked for social media pictures at sacred sites to dangerous driving on local roads.
“It was acceptable to a point, but it has now gone too far,” Justin Smith, the owner of a luxury travel-planning company, told The Washington Post. “There's an absolute lack of respect for the destination and for Bali to be pushed to that extent, that means this bad behavior is pretty extensive.”
The proposed tourism tax is merely one of the most recent measures being considered to address the island's growing problem with unruly tourists. The island is also working to implement changes that would reduce the number of people who are able to visit and encourage those who do come to the destination to behave more respectfully.
The tourism board recently launched an ad campaign that outlines this new effort. In addition, just last month the island announced plans to ban tourists from renting motorbikes after one too many incidents of tourists simply ignoring local traffic laws.