The Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour Agencies (ASITA), Ms. Meity Robot has made public the contents of letters sent by her association to five ministries of the Indonesian government demanding they help the embattered travel industry respond to the current dramatic downturn in tourist arrivals.
In letters addressed to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, the Coordinating Minister for the People's Welfare, the State Minister for Culture and Tourism, the State Minister for State-Owned Enterprises, and the Minister of Manpower and Transmigration – the ASITA Chairman called on the nation's leaders to:
• Provide emergency soft-loans to provide the necessary cash flows to allow travel companies to survive the coming six months in order to avoid bankruptcy.
• Reconsider plans to revoke the visa-free facility for the nationals of 48 countries and replace it with a shorter visa for free facility issued upon arrival in the country.
• Abolish value-added taxes and income taxes imposed on tour operators.
• The abrogation of the departure tax of Rp. 1 million (approximately US$ 119) imposed on every Indonesian resident traveling abroad.
Ms. Robot justified her call for drastic action by the Government, citing the unprecedented downturn in business caused by the SARS crisis and the global threat of terrorist acts.
Quoted in the Jakarta Post and supporting ASITA's call was Mr. Rama Tirtawisata a director of the Panorama Tour Group who said "there are a number of government regulations that merely add to the woes of the tourist industry."
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