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Indonesia defends visa charge JAKARTA - Immigration Minister Yusril Mahendra defended the Indonesian government's decision to start charging for tourist visas, saying a fee of $US40 would earn the government more income than the country's plantation industry. Mahendra claimed that Indonesian citizens had to pay to apply for $A60 visas to Australia, but would not be refunded if they were blocked entry.
"Why should Indonesia be so kind and let in Australians for free?" he told reporters. "Australia and the US were given free visas but many of them work here. "They open law practices and teach English while our citizens when they want to go to Australia or the US they have to ask for a visa." Charging for tourist visas would be a good income earner for the country, he said.
"Let's say we stated $US40 for one person, if five million people come to Indonesia every year, we will receive $US200 million from visas and this will earn much more than the plantation companies in Indonesia," the minister said. However, he said a final decision on how much the visa would cost would be made after consultations with the finance ministry. Mahendra also said it was yet to be decided when the new visa rules would be put into effect.
Tourist arrivals in Indonesia were 5.03 million in 2002, down slightly from 5.15 million in 2001. They are under pressure in 2003 because of the October 12 Bali bombing in which 202 people, mostly Western tourists were killed. The outbreak of an atypical pneumonia known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has also dampened tourism within Asia. The new visa, under discussion for years, would be required by travellers from 48 countries, affecting the enormous tourist markets of Australia, Japan and the US.
Tourists would only be permitted to enter the country for 30 days and their visas would only be extended with special permission for two weeks with an extra fee that was yet to be determined, the minister said. Previously, tourists were granted 60-day stay permits for free.



Posted in Tourism @ 16 April 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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