LONG CONSIDERED a pilgrimage for Aussies ranging from cashed up Instagram influencers and digital nomads to boozy bogans, Bali has finally had enough. After years of enduring excessive partying by troublesome tourists who take advantage of locals’ hospitality while wreaking havoc on the island’s serenity, Bali is introducing a so-called “tourist-tax” in a bid to scare off “cheap” revellers and preserve its respectable reputation. The Bali party just raised its entry fee, and if the tax does deter tourists, whoever makes Bintang singlets could soon be going out of business.
The COVID-19 pandemic devastated Bali’s economy, stopping the endless waves of planes ferrying tourists with cash burning holes in their pockets to the island. Now that international travel has returned, though, Bali has seen an influx of visitors who have clearly forgotten how to behave overseas, giving rise to the idea that loss of manners is a previously unknown COVID symptom.
While Bali has remained picturesque and its residents as friendly as ever, tourists have been causing immeasurable damage to the Indonesian island’s pristine landscapes and vibrant culture. This has led the local government to brainstorm ideas on how to promote good behaviour and ward off troublemakers.
Why is Bali introducing a tourist tax?
Bali welcomes millions of international guests every year and the local economy is highly dependant on visitors reaching into their deep pockets and sharing their wealth with locals. But it’s clear that a few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch.
Since the end of lockdowns and return of travel, tourists have been making a mockery of Balinese culture, ignoring local customs and etiquette in favour of unbridled hedonism and the quest for the perfect Insta-worthy selfie. From naked partygoers invading temples and desecrating places of worship to violent confrontations between groups of blokes who look like they haven’t been sober since they got off the plane, Bali has seen it all, and the local government has had it.
Earlier this year, the semi-autonomous island released a dos and don’ts guide hoping to educate tourists on proper behaviour. The list of don’ts included travelling no-goes such as trespassing on sacred sites, littering, swearing, taking nude photos in public places, and using illegal drugs — which doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for. The good behaviour guide hasn’t had much of an impact, however, so local lawmakers are now resorting to taxation, with the hope that the increased costs will deter “cheap” tourists and improve Bali’s reputation.
How much is Bali’s tourist tax?
Before you go and cancel your buck’s trip or schoolies getaway, understand that the tourist tax is actually much lower than you might expect. Foreigners journeying to the Island of the Gods and One Thousand Temples will be required to pay a mandatory fee of just $15 AUD upon arrival. Basically, the equivalent of couple of margaritas by the pool.
When will Bali’s tourist tax start?
The tourist tax won’t come into effect until 2024. So, if you’re the kind of traveller that counts every penny and is always on the lookout for a bargain, you’ll want to head to Bali before the end of the year.
What will the tourist tax be used for?
Wayan Koster, the governor of Bali, has been a strong proponent of stricter tourism measures and provided an idea of how the funds gained from the tourist tax will be spent. “We will use it for the environment and culture, and we will build better quality infrastructure so traveling to Bali will be more comfortable and safe,” Koster said in a statement.
Will people stop going to Bali?
The decision to introduce a $15 tax likely won’t deter many visitors, but it might make tourists reconsider how they treat the island.
It’s also possible that the tourist tax could set a precedent to be followed by other destinations. Bali isn’t the only travel hotspot that deals with unruly guests, and if there’s an opportunity to make some extra cash and scare off troublesome visitors in the process, you can bet that tourism officials will snap it up.