DENPASAR – A sharp fall in the number of Chinese tourists to Bali is being attributed to a crackdown on rogue tour operators.
Bali's police and tourist industry have been working with Chinese authorities to shut down syndicates running "zero dollar" operations.
Tour operators in China were selling cheap trips – often for less than US$200 for a week - and funnelling tourists into Chinese-owned shops and restaurants in Bali where they were sold goods at vastly inflated prices.
Payment was often made over China's WeChat Pay platform, so the transactions didn't even register in the same country as the purchases, the Australian Financial Review reports.
Now the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies and China's National Tourism Association have compiled lists of "good" and "bad" tour operators to help tourists and deal with complaints.
The result? Investigators in Bali shut down several of the Chinese-owned outlets that were found to have been acquired illegally.
Bali Tourism Authority estimates as many as three in every 10 Chinese tourists to Bali were in the "zero dollar" category; the resulting crackdown has resulted in a huge drop in total numbers from China, AFR reports.
Official data shows Chinese tourism visits to Bali down 16.5% this year.