Bali needs to attract ‘classy’ tourists: governor

Bali governor Wayan Koster and his deputy Cok Ace. Photo: @semetonwayankoster/Instagram

Bali governor Wayan Koster is dropping truth bombs left and right.

Within his first 60 days in office, the governor has reinvigorated Balinese heritage by issuing resolutions decreeing a more widespread use of Balinese script and dress on the island, defended the controversial IMF-World Bank meeting in Bali amid ongoing natural disaster recovery, and axed the island’s public bus system. Suffice it to say, Koster has been active.

Now he’s talking about the quality of tourists that Bali has been attracting, with regards to recent local reports that have been circulating, allegedly exposing a dirt cheap tour scheme that lets Chinese spend four days/five nights in Bali for IDR2 million (US$131.92) or even much less, inclusive of accommodation and travel costs.

Tourism is Bali’s biggest moneymaker and Chinese are the leading market, but if they’re not spending money during their holiday on the island, then we have a problem.

Koster says this kind of selling Bali for cheap shall not stand and that he is immediately coordinating with PHRI, Indonesia’s hotel and restaurant association, as well as other relevant tourism and industry players so Bali tourism becomes more organized and not sold at too low of a price.

“Don’t let it be sold cheap like that anymore,” Koster said at the governor’s office on Monday, as quoted by Tribun Bali.

“I will check what’s really going on,” he said.

“We want people who come to Bali to be classy guests. If they are coming here, they shouldn’t just sleep here, but also spend money shopping.”

Meanwhile, Koster’s deputy, vice governor Tjokorda Artha Ardana Sukawati also expressed his concerns over the cheap tour scheme. Handy since Sukawati, also known as Cok Ace, happens to be the chairman of the Bali chapter of PHRI.

“I still need to investigate. If it’s IDR600k (US$39.58) for five days, then that’s IDR120k (US$7.92) per day. If it’s IDR1 million (US$65.97), then that’s still reasonable,” he said.

Cok Ace suspects that the ultra-budget Chinese tourists, that the reports refer to, reserve just one room, but get one larger in size that can fit many people.

“In one room, eight beds can be included. Each bed would be paid IDR50k (US$3.30), maybe such a practice is developing,” he said.

Reports came out on Monday quoting chairperson of the Mandarin Division of the Indonesian Association of Tours and Travel (ASITA Bali), Elyse Deliana, as saying that the practice of agents selling Bali tours for too cheap has been going on for the past two to three years.

A trip to Bali including roundtrip airfare, meals, and a hotel booking for five nights/four days was being sold for IDR2 million. The price later dropped down to IDR1.5 million, but the latest information has it a shocking low rate of just IDR600k (US$39.58), Deliana said.

ASITA China Committee Central Board Chairman Hery Sudiarto urged the Bali Province government to act in order to protect the future of the island’s tourism industry.

“If this practice is allowed, it will obviously get worse in the future. Strong regulations must be made, in order to protect what’s legal and regulate what’s illegal,” Tribun quoted Hery as saying.

Seems like Koster has received the message.

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