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Visa policy granted grace period JAKARTA - The government is not postponing the new visa policy but is merely implementing a six-month transition period instead, spokesman Ade E. Dahlan for the Directorate General of Immigration at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights said on Monday. "Actually, the transition period has been in effect since late March, so it is not an extended delay," he told The Jakarta Post. The controversial decree on the new visa policy was signed on March 31 and will be implemented in September.
The new visa policy will scrap the 60-day visa-free policy because the facility had been abused by several foreign nationals. The new policy will require visitors to Indonesia to apply for the appropriate visa at Indonesian embassies or consulates in their respective countries. Alternatively, they can also apply for a visa on arrival, which will charge visitors US$45 per person for each visit.
"Which countries will be given this visa-on-arrival privilege will be determined later. "In the meantime, we're also waiting for technical guidelines from the ministry, which are now ready. Reassessment (of the guidelines) involving relevant parties will be conducted later," Ade said. The technical guidelines include regulations on those countries eligible for the visa-on-arrival facility and the reciprocal visa, and will also outline the economic benefits of the new policy.
Previously, Indonesia had a free visa policy for 48 countries, as well as a reciprocal visa policy with 11 countries. The United States and Australian citizens were allowed to enter the country freely, but the policy was not reciprocated for Indonesian citizens visiting those countries. To obtain a visa from either country, an Indonesian citizen must pay about Rp 450,000 (US$55) for a visa and undergo an interview, and an application was not automatically approved.
The tourism industry, which has been severely affected by last year's Bali bombing, the Iraq war and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, expressed concerns over the new policy, fearing that it would greatly reduce the number of tourists, particularly from countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Netherlands. Indonesia will still maintain its free visa policy for citizens of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Macao, Chile, Morocco, Turkey and Peru, based on the principle of reciprocity.
Before the Bali bombing, the tourism industry generated US$5.4 billion in foreign exchange revenue, of which Bali contributed 30 percent. In 2002, tourism revenue dropped to $4.3 billion, while tourist arrivals dropped from 5.15 million visitors in 2001 to 5.03 million in 2002. The tourism industry is the second largest non-oil and gas foreign exchange earner after the textile and garment industry.



Posted in Tourism @ 03 June 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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