Sambas Soerjadi, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) from the PDIP faction, has called on the Government to review the Presidential Decree that will soon eliminate the visa-free facility enjoyed by the citizens of 48 countries to be replaced with a paid visa-on-arrival system. Meanwhile, Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, I Gede Ardika, has asked that any change in the visa policy be delayed until January 1, 2004.
Soerjadi, speaking after a Commission V hearing with the Minister of Culture and Tourism and quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, insisted that every policy likely to have a major effect on the development of national tourism should be reviewed by the Nation's legislators. "Because of this," he added, "we hope the Government will delay implementation and not close the door to the possibility of reviewing the revocation of the visa-free facility and its replacement with the paid visa on arrival."
The Legislator suggested that if the new policy is found to be detrimental to tourism arrival figures the Government should not hesitate to revoke the policy. Soerjadi also said that the Government was being hasty in deciding the countries to be granted visa-free visits under the new policy solely on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefit. Adding, "If the countries that are traditional major suppliers of tourists to Indonesia lose the visa-free facility while countries that produce few visitors are given that facility, the new policy is pointless."
Minister Ardika to Seek Another Delay
Minister of Culture and Tourism, I Gede Ardika, told the legislators that he would make a recommendation in the next limited Cabinet meeting that any change in the visa policy be delayed until at least January 1, 2004. Such a delay, according to the Minister, is necessary for the socialization of the new policy via tour operators and airlines.
The Minister also reported that he has asked the Minister of Finance to keep any visa charge below US$ 20 per person in order to dampen any negative reaction to the policy. Moreover, the Minister has asked that a portion of any visa fee be set aside for the international promotion of Indonesian tourism.
If the introduction date is delayed until January 1, 2004, that will represent the fourth time that the launch date of the paid visa system has been postponed.
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