Bali and Pollution, who is responsible?
The government of Bali is taking great measures in its recently taking plastic free Bali initiative. The plastic that has polluted not just the streets, culture but the serene waters of Bali has to go now and government is taking no prisoners here. The administration is in a process of preparing a bylaw that will require $10 levy on foreign tourists landing in Bali.
After detailed discussions with Bali Legislative Council over the period of December-January, Bali administration has drafted a bylaw to ensure tourist contributed in nature, cultural and environmental preservation.
Next Generation of non plastic Resort : Le K club Ubud
Bali Governor Wayan Koster stated revenue amount collected from this tourist tax will be used and allocated to fund the programs focusing on the anti plastic environment and culture elements. “This will give us better fiscal space to support the development of Bali,” Koster said at the Bali Legislative Council building.
Bali is famous as one of the top tourist destination in the world, having welcomed and hosting 5.7 million foreign tourists in 2017, majority of those tourists were from Australia and China. The number was forecasted to exceed 6 million in 2018. Being the star tourist attraction Bali hosted many international events in 2018 such as IMF-World Bank annual meeting.
As the volume of tourism is increasing domestic and foreign, the challenges are increasing for Bali administration as well in preserving natural and cultural aspects. Main battle in Bali right now is to fight against the increasing volume and pile of plastic waste. The waste is not just limited to the streets but has massively affected the beaches and waters. As per a recent study by The Bali Environment Agency, around 3800 tons of waste was produced on Island per day on an average. Only 60% of that waste ended on landfill.
Considering the numbers, the waste became unbearable. The administration decided and passed a law to ban the single use plastics immediately such as shopping bags, styrofoam and straws. Bali administration is hopeful that this ban which is stipulated Gubernatorial Regulation No. 97/2018 is expected to result in a 70% decline in plastic waste in Bali.
Governer Koster said that he is very hopeful that this tax will not discourage tourists from visiting. “Tourists will understand [the regulation]. They will be happy to pay it as it will be used to strengthen our environment and culture,” he said.
While it may seem unfair to some but Bali isn't the first tourist destination to impose such a tax on travelers. Japan also started collecting a departure tax this year known as "Sayanora Tax". The tax amount is almost the same, they charge 1000 yen which is roughly $9.10 US. However that tax applies to all travelers whether local or foreigners.
Koster further explained that this tax will only imply on foreigner tourists and not domestic as per a directive from central Government. They have started this tax in Bali as a pilot project for waste management system at a tourist destination. “Most foreigners come to Bali for a holiday, local tourists only come to visit their family, have meetings or for their institution’s events,” he said, adding that the subject of the levy was still under discussion.
The process of how the tax will be collected is still not finalized yet. The administration and council are looking for the best option for collection, either they should add this to the airline ticket or make special collection counter at the airports. The options are not finalized however the first option seems more reasonable.
Local community leaders have welcomed this levy/tax . “Contributions from tourists are needed to help us preserve our environment and culture. Tourists come to enjoy our environment and culture. Why not contribute to preserving it?” said Bali Legislative Council Speaker I Nyoman Adi Wiryatama of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Ida Bagus Purwa Sidemen, the executive director of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association stated they are not worried that such tax will deter or affect tourists from visiting at all.
“As long as the levy is used for preserving environment and culture, I think it would not cause a decline in tourist numbers. However, if there is no real program following the implementation of the bylaw, tourists may feel disappointed and it would lead to a decrease in tourist arrivals,” said Ida Bagus.
Ketur Ardana who is the Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies Bali Chapter also approved of and welcomed the plan by saying that it is not going to discourage the tourist nor the tourism at all. "Actually, it has been discussed in Bali for a long time. If it could be implemented now, that would be really good," Ardana said.. $10 is not a big amount for tourists who plan to visit. He stated that "Other countries also charge foreign tourists. I think $10 won't affect them. If we visit Dubai, we should pay $11 per person and we pay it,"
Tourism Expert from Udayana University Ida Bagus Puja Astawa is also a vocal supporter of this initiative. He quoted a study from 2015 that shows tourists are willing to pay the conservation of nature and culture. Majority of tourists think its necessary to preserve nature.