The Indonesian island of Bali impressed us on our recent vacation with its natural beauty, historic temples and the friendliness of its people.
A driver we hired to take us from the central part of the island to the popular southwest coast proved to be not only a delightful person but also a quick study. After we expressed a desire to visit a local restaurant, the driver, Mus, took us to a local warung– a small, family-owned eatery -- set amid green rice fields.
As we talked, we were surprised to learn that Mus had taught himself a number of phrases in Mandarin after listening carefully to Chinese tourists. We had not expected to see many people from China outside of the big southern resorts, but this was confirmation that independent Chinese visitors are starting to make inroads.
According to the Australian Business Review, Chinese are expected to eclipse Australians as the largest group of international arrivals this year.
根据《澳大利亚商业评论》（the Australian Business Review）报道，中国今年有望超过澳大利亚成为本年度国际旅客的最大来源国。
Indeed, on a dolphin-watching trip on the north coast, three hours’ drive from the airport, we shared a small boat with a nice young couple from Fujian province.
China Daily reported in May that Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has declared Bali the nation’s pilot project to ensure a comfortable holiday trip for Chinese visitors, particularly in security and safety. That sounds smart.
Indonesia appears to be eyeing the tourist trade of Thailand, which welcomed 8.7 million Chinese visitors last year, a 10.3 percent increase from 2015, Singapore-based Today reported.
Yet, Thailand also offers some lessons for Indonesia, particularly for Bali, and for tourists themselves. The Thai and Chinese governments have been working together to crack down on cheap, "zero-dollar" tours.
Chart Chantanaprayura, president of the Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand, was quoted by Today as saying that travelers who take these tours pay an initial low price for these packages, but often find they are forced to pay exorbitant prices for food, tours and accommodations once they arrive.
在《今日》的报道中，泰国专业导游总会（he Professional Tourist Guide Association of Thailand）主席乍鲁蓬（Chart Chantanaprayura）表示，旅客们一开始可以低价报名旅游团，但往往到达旅游地后才会发现要被迫为饮食、旅行以及住宿支付高昂的价格。
These tours can be dangerous for the tourists, who sometimes find themselves literally put off the bus if they refuse to cooperate with operators' demands, and damaging to Thailand’s reputation as well as its tourism income, since little of the money spent stays in Thailand. The association blames unauthorized Chinese tour companies and says that while the phenomenon has been reduced, it continues.
Hospitality consultant Horwath HTL says there is a danger that some tour operators in Bali may look upon the crackdown as an opportunity to fill rooms, the Business Review reported. If care is not taken, it's not hard to imagine the same kinds of problems starting to pop up there, too, hurting Bali and disillusioning visitors.
Bali’s infrastructure – roads, sewer, water service – is limited and its attractions, while beautiful, are fragile.
Bali hopefully will remain an affordable destination, and not just a playground for the well-off. But all this does show the need for authorities to cooperate closely in regulating tourism operators so that Bali remains the “land of smiles”, ensuring long-term benefit to the Balinese and wonderful vacations for their visitors.