Sunday, May 24, 2009

Port tax to be reviewed in June

Read from Batam Pos

The Department of Transportation Karimun promised to review the port tax by early June.

This was in response to the protest from members of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurants (PHRI) Karimun, with regards to the increase of the port tax from Rupiah 25k to 60k for foreign visitors, mainly from Malaysia and Singapore.

Edi Sontek, the Chairman of PHRI complained to Batam Pos recently that many hotel and wisma rooms are empty since the implementation of the new port tax.

Hotel operators are happy
just to be able to survive on a daily basis, said Edi. However if there is no review of the port tax, many hotels will have to shut down. "If the visitor numbers continue to decrease, hotel closures will definitely happen. So we ask the government to understand our situation," explained Edi who accompanied PHRI Karimun Secretary, Tantimin SH.


  1. Wonderful news....especially for the businesses in TBK. Being a reasonably frequent visitor to TBK, the impact of increase in port taxes can be visably seen.

    What is interesting is that an increase in port tax IDR35,000 (equivalent to approximately SGD5.00)does actually translate to a significant drop in visitors. It implies that the "type" of tourists that TBK typically attracts, are the lower income earners.

    For long term survival of hotel operators / businesses within TBK, they & the provincial government should work towards improving its facilities / image & promote TBK as a destination to tourists that can afford to spend...another Batam, without the "cewek factor" (at least, not to be operated so openly).

    Just my 2 cents worth of comments. Thanks. PS, you are doing a wonderful job with this blogspot. i often look forwards to your updates.


  2. Bobo, thanks for your comments. You are right that they "type" of visitors are lower income earners or budget visitors. However they are also regular visitors. If one was to visit say once a year, IDR 35k is not a big deal. However if you travel once or twice a month, it starts to be a burden.

    I was talking to some Ah Peks (older gentlemen) that were lamenting the good old days when the return ferry fare was only RM30 (now RM95), and there was no port tax (is that true?). They used to go to Tanjung Balai at least twice a month. It's true they went for the cewek factor. They said that after TBK became popular, the local operators and ceweks became arrogant and started to treat the visitors badly. So, the port tax is basically the straw that broke the camel's back.

  3. I think another big factor in the impact of the port tax increment is the discrimination issue. Foreigners are charged IDR 60k, whereas Indonesians are charged only IDR 30k. This discrimination does not happen at the Malaysian and Singaporean ports.

    Foreigners feel they are treated like cash cows. Instead of feeling welcomed and appreciated for contributing to the local economy, we feel that we are being exploited. This happens when you go to restaurants. We know that we are charged more than the locals, even though we order more dishes. Even the small satay vendors will charge you extra if they know you are not local.

    I suppose when we leave Balai at the port and see the huge difference in port tax for foreigners, it just leaves a bad impression that we are not appreciated and welcomed.

  4. Behappy, the Indon Govt has always had some form of discriminatory policy, although i don't feel that its discriminatory policies are intentionally focused on foreigners. If you recall, locals were subjected to high "exit tax" until recent times. This was very unpopular amongst Indonesians and many viewed it as discriminatory as well. So, the knife can cut both ways, and for all intent and purposes, it is only a means of increasing the Govt coffers.

    As foreign tourists, we are bound to be taken advantage of in one form or another, regardless of whether we are in Balai or otherwise. For example, I was in Zhuhai 3 months back, and as a "foreigner", I encountered the typical tourist traps as well, notwithstanding that i was being brought around by 1 Macanese & 1 Singaporean based in Zhuhai.

    The funny thing about these "Ah Peks" is that they always talk about the good old days, where things are always cheaper. I often highlight to them that a bowl of mee in the "good old days" was only 10 cents too.

    Actually, i find the mentality / attitude of these "Ah Peks" in Balai, highly disgusting. But thats a separate issue all together.

    I bumped into Ronnie last weekend and he mentioned that you were there. I will be in balai this weekend again. It would be nice to meet you, if you are planning to go this weekend as well.

    Thanks for airing my views. Bobo1974

  5. Bobo, I will not be in Balai this weekend. Please feel free to ask Ronnie for my email address. I do not want to post it here because it will get spammed. We'll keep in touch..