Changes in Indonesia's visa policy that will eliminate the 60-day-on-arrival permits currently granted to the nationals of 48 countries and replace it with a 30 day visa purchased on arrival, costing between US$ 30-35, did not materialize as widely expected on September 01, 2003.
The change in visa policy was the focus of a demonstration by over 5,000 people in Bali on Wednesday, August 27, 2003, who called on the Government to delay any changes in visa policy until the nation's tourism industry fully recovers from recent setbacks.
The much debated change in policy that will require visitors from the main source countries for Bali to start paying the visa fee upon entering the Country and would limit stays to only 30 days, remains in something of a limbo as airport immigration officials across the nation claim they are waiting for the necessary technical instructions before implementing the policy change.
balidiscovery.com confirmed that the visa fee was not in effect during a Bali airport visit on September 2, 2003, where immigration officials said they are unable to predict when the fee would become effective.
Cabinet Split on Visa Issues?
Indications that President Megawati's cabinet is not in solid agreement on the new visa policy emerged again last week when the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. I Gede Ardika, pledged to champion the aspirations of the Bali demonstrators opposed to the fee in his ongoing meetings with fellow members of the Cabinet and the various government departments concerned.
In a related development, Minister Ardika opened the ASEAN Hotel and Restaurant Association meeting held in Jakarta during the first week of September and called for unity among all elements of the community to delay the implementation of any policies likely to delay the recovery of Indonesia's tourism sector.
In opposing the proposed visa charge, various tourism associations in Bali have submitted surveys and studies to the Government showing a potential for a substantial downturn in arrivals resulting in added economic setbacks in a sector still reeling from the effects of international terrorism, the Iraq war, and the SARS panic.
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