Tour OperatorsRussian guides and zero-dollar tour operators in sights of authorities.

Bali, Cambodia ready to crack down on dodgy operators

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Cambodia says ‘zero-dollar’ tours are damaging the country’s tourism industry. Photo Credit: AsianDream/GettyImages

The crackdown follows a report from the Indonesian Tour Guide Association (HPI) Bali, which alleges many Russian nationals worked illegally as tour guides in Bali.

The Bali administration has vowed to clamp down on illegal Russian tour guides operating on the island, claiming they are “damaging Bali’s tourism image”.

“How could they give details and correct explanations about Balinese culture? They may only tell false stories about Bali to their guests,” Bali Tourism Agency acting head Putu Astawa told The Jakarta Post.

The crackdown follows a report from the Indonesian Tour Guide Association (HPI) Bali, which alleges many Russian nationals worked illegally as tour guides in Bali.

Most enter Indonesia on a tourist visa and then offer their services to Russian tourists, it is claimed.

Increasingly, tourism authorities in other Asian countries are being frustrated by shonky practices that have a detrimental impact on their tourism products.

Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism last week said companies offering ‘zero-dollar’ tour packages were damaging the tourism sector and vowed to act to protect the industry.

Minister Thong Khon said that low-cost or ‘zero-dollar’ tours had to be  eradicated, explaining that the practice made tourists feel “cheated” and discouraged them from visiting the country again.

“Please don’t blame the tourists. Blame the companies that are selling ‘zero-dollar’ tour packages,” Khon said.

“These companies are not thinking about the experience of tourists. They just want to cheat them out of their money by selling them overpriced souvenirs and fake products and providing a very low-quality service, while they get a commission from the businesses.”

The minister said that some hotels and restaurants had to close because ‘zero-dollar’ tour operators collected money from the customers but did not give it to hotels and restaurants.


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