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Confusion Still Reigns Over Visa Policy

Confusing Signals from Jakarta Regarding Potential Changes to the Visa Policy.

Bali News:
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Reports from the State news Agency Antara, indicate that a visa-on-arrival policy will be introduced sometime in December.

According to the report, the new visa policy, once introduced, will see the nationals of 20 countries and one region receive a 30 day extendable visa after paying a yet-to-be-specified fee to immigration officials upon arrival at the port of entry. The 20 countries and one region to be allowed to purchase their visas are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United States and United Arab Emirates.

Under the new policy, free visas on arrival will continue to be granted to the citizens of nine ASEAN countries and two regions namely, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, as well as the special administration regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

It is assumed that the citizens of other nations not included on the visa on arrival list or visa free list will need to apply for a visa in their country of residency before departure.

The actual commencement date of the new policy remains uncertain. The final policy must go before a cabinet meeting and receive approval before its formal introduction.

At Variance With Minister Ardika's Statement

Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, I Gede Ardika, when addressing the Pacific Asia Travel Association in Bali as recently as October 25, suggested the new visa policy as still very much under active discussion and that any change, if introduced at all, would have a period of socialization as long as six months between a final formal decision and the actual implementation.

The Minister also indicated that while the final amount of the visa fee had yet to be finally determined, the amount would be US$ 25 or less, a figure substantially below the US$ 50 initially suggested by Indonesia's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihza Mahendra.

The change in the current visa policy has been widely criticized by Indonesia's tourism industry who generally view any change in the current policy as a major step backward in efforts to revitalize the business sector.

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