Rebecca Ratcliffe, Bangkok – Indonesia is considering imposing a tax for tourists after a series of incidents in which badly behaved foreigners have violated laws or customs, according to local media.
The tourism and creative economy minister, Sandiaga Uno, told reporters this week that the possibility of a tourism tax was "currently being studied".
"We expect the study to wrap up in the coming weeks so we can discuss and decide [the issue]," he said, according to a report by the Jakarta Post.
However, business groups fear a tax would deter people from visiting, damaging the tourism sector at a time when it is still recovering from the pandemic, the outlet said.
Earlier this month, the coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, called for a tourism tax, saying Bali was one of the world's cheapest tourist destinations and that this had "encouraged many low-income foreign visitors to come to Bali, leading to a rise in unruly behaviour". The island should shift away from mass tourism and focus on becoming a quality tourism destination, he said.
Before the pandemic, Bali, known for its surfing spots, emerald green rice terraces and nightlife, drew 6.2 million foreign visitors a year, and tourism was estimated to contribute about 60% of the island's economy.
Local people have grown increasingly frustrated with disrespectful or unlawful behaviour by tourists – from foreigners posing naked for social media photos at sacred sites, to bad driving on the roads.
Bali's governor, Wayan Koster, said last month that the island planned to ban tourists from renting motorbikes because they were flouting traffic regulations, including driving without a helmet or a licence.
When calling for a tourism tax, Luhut cited a video in which a tourist, who had been stopped by police for driving a motorbike without a helmet or shirt, shouted at officers, accusing them of trying to steal money.
Sandiaga and Luhut have both suggested that funds collected through the tax could be used to support the development of the local tourism industry.