Bali vice governor investigates shops in Benoa, probe into ultra-low cost Chinese tour package scheme

Chinese tourists frolic at Bali’s Dreamland Beach. Photo: Coconuts Bali

Bali’s vice governor is really putting his nose to the grindstone over this whole conspiracy that’s allegedly been uncovered, where tour agents are selling dirt cheap packages to Chinese tourists, effectively keeping locals from benefiting from the foreigners’ visits.

Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, also known as Cok Ace, inspected a number of shops in the Benoa area on Thursday, according to a statement released by his office.

It turned out that several of the shops were allegedly owned by investors from China.

Cok Ace’s inspection is a follow-up on reports that broke earlier this week, revealing just how cheaply Bali holidays are sold to Chinese tourists.

Chinese tourists can get a four night trip to Bali, all inclusive of roundtrip airfare and accommodation for just IDR600k (US$39.58), claimed the Indonesian Association of Tours and Travel (ASITA).

ASITA, along with the Association of Indonesian Tourists (HPI), also joined in on the inspection.

“There are reports that tours to Bali are being sold very cheaply in China and the prices are below average. In the news, the issue is also that Chinese tourists are pushed to shop in a number of shops that are suspected of employing foreign workers from China without permission. So this is of course harming tourism,” Cok Ace stated on Friday, as quoted by Detik.

With tourism as Bali’s leading industry and Chinese as the dominant market, the island certainly has a problem if the Chinese are flooding the island and not spending any money.

He added that based on the report, it’s not only that tourism is being sold cheaply, but that the payment methodology is suspected of using only the Chinese banking system, so as not to benefit local residents in Indonesia from the foreign visits.

The shops that Cok Ace visited during his investigation were selling mattresses, latex, silk, and jewelry. Balinese products were not being sold in these stores for the most part, he said.

Regarding the Chinese employees working at the shops, Cok Ace says he is coordinating with immigration authorities to check on their visa status.

“In addition, we will also take note of every item they sell, because we want the items sold to be Balinese products,” he said.

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