During a meeting with a delegation representing the Bali chapter of the Association of Travel Agents (ASITA) visiting the Governor's office to brief him on their coming annual meeting, Bali's Governor, Dewa Beratha revealed that he has written to the central government in Jakarta expressing his concerns that presidential decree changing the visa free facility would severely reduce Bali's foreign arrivals.
That the island's governor has joined the groundswell of protest against the policy that would eventually eliminate the visa-free-on-arrival facility for the citizens of 48 countries was reported at a press conference on Thursday, May 1, 2003, held by representatives of ASITA-Bali to discuss their coming annual meeting.
ASITA-Bali has joined other stakeholders in Bali's tourism industry asking that the change in visa policy be reviewed or at least delayed until the condition of the industry improves. The Chairman of the association, I Gusti Bagus Yudhara, has suggested that main producing countries for Indonesian tourism, such as Australia, Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom should continue to receive the visa-free-on-arrival-facility and that any fee charged to other nations should be competitive.
Another member of ASITA-Bali's Executive Committee, Bagus Sudibya, has called on all components of Bali's tourism industry together with members of the local government to be united in their opposition to the new policy. Pointing to past public protests that managed to get increases in electrical and fuel tariffs reversed, he suggested that the next six months must be used to fight for the interests of Baliís tourism.
Both Yudhara and Sudibya acknowledged that while violations of the current visa policy have occurred, the answer to security concerns lies in stricter enforcement of existing rules or, alternatively, the removal of the visa facility for countries whose citizens frequently violate existing immigration rules.
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