Four of the regional branches of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA) have joined voices in rejecting Presidential Decree No. 18 that will fundamentally remove the visa-free facility now enjoyed by most tourist visitors to Indonesia. The new policy soon to be introduced, championed by Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, will require visitors to pay a fee for a visa issued upon arrival at any Indonesian port of entry.
Currently, visitors to Indonesia from 48 countries are eligible for visa free visits. The new policy, rumored to be set for introduction on December 1, 2003, will reduce that number to 11 countries with the rest being required to pay a yet to be specified fee.
Formally rejecting the new policy are the branches of ASITA representing Bali, South Sulawesi, North Sulawesi and Central Sulawesi – a grouping expected to grow as they are joined by many other areas of the country dependent on tourism revenues.
Speaking in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, the Chairman of the Bali ASITA Chapter, I Gusti Agung Prana, said, "We are inviting a number of regional governments to join our protest because this policy not only hurts the tourism industry but also the tourism destinations of Indonesia."
The Chairman of the South Sulawesi Chapter of ASITA, Nico B. Pasaka, described the new policy as having many flaws which will delay and do further damage the ongoing recovery of the Nation's tourism sector. Pasaka questioned why the Government's new policy extends visa free visits to the nationals of countries that contribute insignificant visitor numbers to Indonesian tourism while at the same time penalizing traditional major source markets for direct visitors to Indonesia.
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