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Opposition to Change in Visa Policy Grows

Bali Business Leaders Tell Local Parliamentarians that 'Bali's Situation is Critical.'

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On Friday, April 25, 2003, representatives of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) visited Bali's Provincial Parliament (DPRD) to familiarize local political representatives with the many problems currently confronting the island's tourism sector.

A group of 10 KADIN members from Bali led by Gede Wiratha, who also serves as the Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), told the legislators how Bali's tourism industry has had to withstand a number of back-to-back calamities dating from the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, the bombing of October 2002 of a Bali nightspot, and the SARS epidemic - only to now face the latest threat embodied in the Presidential decree that will effectively eliminate the visa-free-on-arrival facility currently enjoyed by the citizens of 48 countries.

Quoted in the Indonesian-language daily Bali Post, Gede Wiratha called on the DPRD to address the concerns of the people of Bali following the issuance of the Presidential decree, saying, "(we) hope there is a unity of action among all components in Bali to bring our struggle to Jakarta in order that the Presidential Decree is reviewed. KADIN's view is that Bali's Situation is Critical."

Wiratha also said that a united stand is demanded by the current situation in Bali involving the government, DPRD, industry members and the people. In this regard he called for the DPRD to take more proactive role in mediating and coordinating Baliís response to the current crisis, adding "we, from the island's industry, are fully ready to cooperate in this effort."

Responding to the visit, the Chairman of Bali's DPRD, Wesnawa confirmed that his body will soon be convening hearings involving the tourism industry, academics, and immigration authorities to collect additional input on the new visa ruling and calculate the various economic effects of the new ruling on Bali's economy. According to Wesnawa, once the full implications of the ruling are understood, the DPRD will bring the island's case to the Country's leaders in Jakarta.

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