Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS) Agency has rolled out an online booking platform for visits to Mount Bromo, a key attraction in East Java which Indonesian president Joko Widodo has envisioned as one of the 10 New Bali’s.
The website (www.bookingbromo.bromotenggersemeru.org) is aimed at bolstering arrivals as well as increasing transparency, TNBTS’ head John Kenedie said in a media release.
Bromo, Tengger, Semeru and Banyuwangi welcomed 417,949 inbound tourists in 2018, and the government set an ambitious target of one million visitors to these destinations this year.
TNBTS charges Rp29,000 (US$2) and Rp220,000 for domestic and foreign tourists, respectively, on weekdays; and Rp34,000 and Rp320,000 on holidays.
According to John, online booking is mandatory for travellers who use the service provided by travel agents, tour operators and event organisers. On the other hand, independent travellers, who come alone or in groups, can opt to book tickets online or purchase them manually at counters for arrivals between 07.30 and 16.00. Online bookings are mandatory for them if they arrive between 16.01 and 07.29.
With this move, Adjie Wahjono, operation manager of Aneka Kartika Tours, expected illegal levy transactions in Mount Bromo to end under the TNBTS’ transparency push through the online booking service.
As well, he foresaw that the online platform could curb the fraudulent practice of foreign tourists passing off as locals in order to purchase domestic tourist tickets to enter Mount Bromo, as the identities of visitors are now needed for verification with their identity card or passport.
However, Adjie pointed out that the TNBTS agency’s different treatment towards independent visitors and those who book under a third-party provider was not only confusing but also discriminative.
“Why are independent travellers allowed to buy tickets manually on the spot (between 07.30 and 16.00)? (Fraud) will still exist then,” he said. “If the agency wants to implement a booking system, it should be enforced to all, not only travel agents.”
Meanwhile, Monas Tjahjono, managing director of Monas Tours and Travel, expressed concerns that the new booking system could put a damper on the business of travel agents who sold Bromo tour packages because of the same ticket price given to both agents and independent travellers.
“It will be okay if we got a discount of 10 per cent or more for a ticket that we book online for our guests,” he said.
Agreeing with Monas, Adjie said that travel agents deserved a special admission ticket price for their contribution in attracting inbound travellers to Bromo through overseas promotional activities.
As well, Monas found fault with the incomplete information on the new booking platform, such as the lack of explanation as to whether tourists could get a refund from TNBTS if they postpone or cancel the trip.
Monas also criticised the agency for making the website only available in Bahasa Indonesia, as it could deter foreign travellers. “Is the agency targeting the domestic market only?” he questioned.
Correction: An earlier version of this story wrote that online bookings are mandatory for visitor arrivals between 16.01 and 19.29. This is incorrect. Online bookings are required between 16.01 and 07.29.