Speaking in Jakarta on Tuesday, August 27, 2003, national tourism leaders joined the chorus of nation-wide protest against plans to change the visa-free-on-arrival facility expected to be introduced in September.
Pontjo Sutowo the Chairman of the Indonesian Tourism Think Tank (MPI) and the Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (BPPI), warned that the Government's failure to heed the protests against the policy will only further cripple an already ailing national tourism industry.
Calling for a delay in any change until the condition of tourism improves and the technical procedures surrounding the policy can be clarified, Sutowo said "we think the Government's argumentation about the use of visas for illegal foreign workers and criminal misuse miss the mark.
Moreover, if the Government's consideration is solely one of reciprocity the change in visa policy does not benefit Indonesia. Whether or not citizens of the U.S.A. or China, for example, are extended visa-free visits in Indonesia, those countries will continue to require visas for visiting Indonesians."
Addressing Government claims for a need of closer control over foreign visitors, Sutowo suggested the policy change is misguided, saying, "only because there are an estimated 2,000 foreigners with unclear status in Indonesia, we are preparing to disrupt the activities of 5 million other genuine tourist visitors."
Meanwhile, Meity Robot, Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) supported Sutowo's statement, having already asked the Government to delay an implementation of the new policy until 2004. Robot warned that the current situation was chaotic with details still unclear on how large the fee will be, which countries will be affected, and when the policy change actually comes into effect.
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