Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Foreign Visitors Decreasing

Translated from Batampos Kunjungan WNA Menurun

6th May 2009

KARIMUN - The number of visitors from foreign countries to Tanjungbalai Karimun continues to show a decrease after the implementation of the new seaport tax on the 1st May 2009. Foreign passport holders are charged the seaport tax of Rp60 thousand, local passport holders are charged Rp30 thousand. Previously the seaport tax was apllied to all at Rp25 thousand.

Seaport tax increase according to Regional Regulation... where the seaport exit tariff for outbound ships to foreign countries (Singapore & Malaysia) was charged at Rp60 thousand. "The number of foreign arrivals entering since the start date has decline since 3rd May. It averages out to be a decline of around 50%.", said A Pramudite, Head of Port Immigration Inspection Unit (TPI) in the Tanjungbalai Karimun international seaport , Tuesday (5th May) yesterday.

A Pramudite mentioned that normally there are 15 trips a day made by foreign bound ferries. However on Friday, only 12 trips were made. "In fact we had no problems implementing the increase of the seaport tax but our record shows that the decline in foreign visits is visibly obvious," he said.

Based on data obtained from the TPI Tanjungbalai Karimun, foreign arrivals in the month of March reached 23,949 people. While April was 22,967 people. The high seaport tax rates that applies to foreign passport holders has attracted complaints from Malaysians. This is because the seaport tax in Malaysia is only RM10, about Rp 30 thousand. Malaysians have complained this to Afa, a taxi driver who often works from the harbour.

"Guests are now saying that they no longer want to visit Karimun because the seaport tax is double that of Malaysia" Afa grumbles. There are consequence due to the increased seaport tax tariff. Afa admits his livelihood is threatened. Bringing guests around Tanjung Balai is no longer viable. "How can we earn a living if there are no more visitors? We hope that the local authorities will review the seaport tax," said Afa.

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