Skift Take

Bali hopes the new levy can help it address the growing pains of tourism.

Trips to Bali are getting pricier. Since Wednesday, foreign tourists have been obligated to pay a tax of 150,000 Indonesian rupiah (about $10) when they visit the island.

Called a “tourist levy,” the fee is paid by visitors when they arrive at the airport or make a payment to the government through its website or mobile app. The levies will go toward the government’s cultural and environmental preservation efforts, public services, and infrastructure.

Bali is the latest destination to start charging tourists more for their visits. Iceland has reinstated its tourist tax to tackle overtourism. Paris has increased its tourist taxes ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics. Greece is taxing tourists to support climate change disaster relief efforts.

Indonesians and Russian Tourists Flock to Bali

During the pandemic, Bali experienced a boom in tourism and migration from Indonesia’s other islands. Foreign tourism to the island had come to a standstill. To support the tourism sector, the government encouraged Indonesians to work and spend more time on the island.

“A lot of Indonesians fell in love with Bali,” said Simon Pestridge, chief experience officer of Bali-based beach club hotel Potato Head. “A lot of people moved here.”

At the same time, there’s been significant growth in international tourists. Bali had over 5.3 million foreign tourist visits in 2023, up from 2.2 million in 2022, according to the Indonesian government.

The tourist makeup has also changed. There’s been a significant influx of tourists from Russia, Eastern Europe and China, said Pestridge. 

In addition, a large share of Russians have relocated to Bali permanently or semi-permanently, said Mark Howarth-Archer, senior contracting manager for the Asia-Pacific region for G Adventures.

Bali Tourism’s Growing Pains

The influx of people has put pressure on Bali’s infrastructure.

“The underlying infrastructure hasn’t been able to catch up,” said Howarth-Archer.

Traffic congestion has become a recurring problem. Many of Bali’s narrow roads were built primarily to support bikes, said Pestridge.

“We have more bikes than ever before with the level of tourists coming in, but also what we’ve seen is a big uptick in the number of cars,” he said. “When you get a narrow road with a lot of bikes, cars going in either direction, it tends to create jams.”

Tourists have engaged in disruptive behaviors. Some have disrespected temples. Inexperienced tourists renting motorbikes have caused a rising number of accidents. At one point, the government considered banning tourists from renting motorbikes but ultimately didn’t.

Another major problem has been with waste management. Without a waste collection or treatment system, 52% of Bali’s waste is mismanaged, Bloomberg reported. “The authorities have struggled to keep on top of waste management,” Howarth-Archer said. 

To tackle the waste issue, Potato Head has started a community waste program with local hotels, other beach clubs and restaurants to create a landfill site. Program members sort and reuse as much of the waste as possible, said Pestridge.   


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Tags: bali, indonesia, overtourism, tourism

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