Bali’s tourist industry has frequently lodged complaints over the rocketing price of alcoholic beverages, including wine, whiskey and beer sold at hotels, restaurants and entertainment centers.
John M. Daniels, president of Bali Discovery Tours, shared his experiences with participants of a tourism discussion here last weekend, stating that even the price of a glass of beer was very expensive.
“Many foreign guests were questioning the price of alcoholic beverages,” Daniels said, asking the government to reduce the tax on alcoholic drinks sold in Bali.
“Alcoholic drinks are very expensive, much higher than similar drinks sold in Singapore and other foreign countries,” he added.
He suggested that the government consider reducing the taxes on liquor to support tourism and to maintain trust from overseas agents and tourists.
Putu Juarez, chairman of the Society of Indonesian Professional Convention Organizers (SIPCO) Bali chapter, suggested that hotels, restaurants and convention organizers inform their clients about the price of food and beverages, including liquor.
Bali hosts numerous international-scale conferences; world-class conference organizers handled some of these events.
Ida Bagus Gede Sidharta Putra, head of the Denpasar chapter of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI), lamented that the price of alcoholic drinks in Bali was more expensive than those sold in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
“Indonesia applies very tight distribution rules, as well as quotas limiting imports of liquor. Taxation and fees are other problems in procuring the beverages,” Putra commented.
Rizki Handayani, director of the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s directorate of MICE and Special Interest Promotion, promised to follow up on this input with related agencies at the ministry and other institutions — including the Trade Ministry.
“This is valuable information to be shared with the minister,” Handayani said.
Ida Bagus Ardana, head of internal trade affairs at the Bali Industry and Trade office, said there were 60 registered distributors and sub-distributors in Bali.
His office is responsible for distributing labels, which are issued by Bali Tax and Revenue office.
In 2011, the office distributed 50 million labels for type A beverages (including beer); 3 million for type B drinks (such as wine); 3 million labels for type C drinks (spirits) and 1.5 million labels for traditional alcoholic drinks. The labels are needed to legalize the selling of alcoholic drinks in local markets.
It was estimated that Bali needed 60 million bottles of alcoholic drinks every year, he said.
“Every distributor is required to propose the number of labels they need to import alcohol. This can be proposed monthly or depending on the distributor’s needs,” he added.
Ardana acknowledged that the high price of liquor was related to the amount of tax imposed. Complicated distribution chains had also played an important factor in increasing the price of alcoholic beverages in Bali and other places in Indonesia. While fees and transportation costs related to importing the alcohol had made the prices here unbelievably high, he said.
Alit Surya, a member of staff at PT Indowine Bali, which imports wines from overseas countries such as Australia, France and Chile, said that the company obtained a quota from the Trade Ministry to import 36,000 boxes of wine, or equivalent to 324,000 liters of wine.
There are 12 wine distributors in Indonesia, including PT Indowine Bali.
Most of the imported wines are distributed to Jakarta and Bali, the largest consumers in Indonesia.
“The price of a bottle of wine can range from Rp 285,000 (US$ 30.21) to millions of rupiah per bottle, depending on its quality,” Surya said.
The price is even higher when served in star-rated hotels and opulent restaurants. “They will likely add 30 percent in additional tax and service fees,” Surya added.
Retailers may also increase the prices on bottles of wines and other spirits to obtain adequate profits.