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Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

Statements by Minister of Justice on New Visa Policy Only Serve to Confuse Situation Further. Old Regulation Remains in Effect Until Further Notice.

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In an article carried in the English language Jakarta Post on Wednesday, April 16, 2003, Indonesia's Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra made statements likely to cause further confusion among the national travel industry, already badly shaken by the Presidential Decision of March 31, 2003, that will, when formally enacted, significantly alter the visa facilities available to tourists visiting Indonesia.

Minister Yusril indicated that under the new policies a visa issued in one gateway of the country will not necessarily be valid in other parts of the country, requiring visitors to reapply and pay for another visa as they moved from one part of the country to another. Quoted in the press, Minister Yusril said, "visitors will only be allowed to enter certain parts of the country where the visa-on-arrival is issued and will have to repeat the process if they visit other places here."

In a move widely seen as intended to deter illegal western workers in the country, the Minister also explained that the new visa will be valid for only 30 days, non-extendable, and have the provision that an additional 30 day visa could only be issued after having been absent from Indonesia for 14 days.

Indicating that the visa fee charged tourists would be between US$40 Ė US$45, the Minister defended the decision, saying, "itís a big revenue source. Other countries generate revenue from it, so why donít we?"

Implementation Date Still Unclear

The rules and regulations that will implement the Presidential Decision are still being discussed among various government departments. As a result, exactly when the visa charge will be imposed remains uncertain with tourists visiting the country on the no-charge, visa free on arrival system for 48 countries still enjoying that facility until further notice.

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