Bali Proposes a Tourist Tax to Clean Up Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution on a beach in Bali.

Plastic pollution on a beach in Bali. GRID-Arendal / Lawrence Hislop.

Bali is considering taxing foreign tourists to tackle the Indonesian island’s mounting plastic pollution problem, The Jakarta Post reported. Bali receives about 6 million visitors annually, mostly from China and Australia.

As Bali’s tourist industry has grown in recent decades, the island has struggled to create an effective waste management plan. According to the Bali Environment Agency, the island produces 3,800 tons of waste every day, with just 60 percent ending up in a landfill. In an effort to reduce the pollution accumulating on the island’s famed beaches and in waters, the province banned single-use plastics last month, including shopping bags, Styrofoam, and straws.

The proposed $10 tax on foreign tourists will be used to fund a program for the preservation of Balinese culture and the environment, with a focus on plastic pollution. Balinese authorities are currently debating how to collect the tax — whether adding it onto airline tickets or collecting it once visitors arrive in the province.

“This will give us better fiscal space to support the development of Bali,” Bali Governor Wayan Koster told reporters at the Bali Legislative Council building. “Tourists will understand [the regulation]. They will be happy to pay it as it will be used to strengthen our environment and culture.”

Bali is just the latest Pacific island community to begin asking tourists to pay for the environmental impact of their visits. Last year, Palau began charging visitors a $100 “Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee,” added to the cost of airline tickets, to “protect Palau’s natural environment for future generations.” Visitors to Palau must also sign a pledge stamped in their passports promising not to damage the environment during their stay.