The Bali Update> coverage of the change in the tourism visa policy - [Visa Change Set for February 1] prompted many readers to write in.
Here's a sampling of what people had to say:
• Mr. Andrew Sivijs, a Brisbane-based travel professional and tourism consultant said:
"What a pity the Indonesian Government has seen fit to introduce another obstacle to tourism recovery in Bali and Indonesia. Although not as prohibitive as what was originally proposed, the visa will do nothing to encourage visitors to Indonesia and Bali. Interestingly, the visa targets the key international markets that have traditionally provided the majority of business to Indonesia. The visa-free countries barely rate on the visitor radar - no money there. The visa will reduce the stay of adventure / backpackers as they will be reluctant to renew their visa once it has expired. Too much bureaucratic muddling and effort to bother with that. Good news for Australia and other competitor destinations. The visa is short sighted and will do little to improve the Indonesian tourism environment. I bet there is no framework in place to ensure the funds raised are channeled back into the desperately needed marketing, promotion and development of the tourism industry. Not a bright start to 2004 for our tourism colleagues and partners in Indonesia."
• Peter Maaka, a regular visitor to Bali wrote:
"If this is the case a lot of people won't go to Bali, US$ 25 is a lot of money to pay per visa most families who go to Bali have 2 Adults & 2 Children = US$ 100. I myself will look at other destinations for my next holiday."
• A New Zealand reader, Wendy Olson, suggests Bali has lost her business as well:
"We love Bali ... my children and i ... been 8 times from New Zealand ... only affordable exotic holiday for us all ... new visa charges change that ... my friends have been saying "come to Thailand next trip" for years ... this year we will ... and will miss you lots Bali ... xxx"
• From Los Angeles, California, Matthew Mendelsohn sent the following:
"A while back, I did a Master's Thesis on the impact of disincentives on foreign investment. What I found was that assuming a country offered an otherwise welcome harbor for FDI (Foreign Direct Investments), these disincentives had little impact. However, in cases of countries where there was vast corruption, unstable leadership or poor or relatively expensive access to simple business necessities, these disincentives really killed off any considerations for investment by foreign companies. I suspect the same is very true of tourism. If Indonesia did not have issues with security, relatively few direct air connections and poverty and was truly a better destination than those nearby, I could relate to this move. But Indonesia has a lot of problems and while I won't stop coming (albeit a bit more grudgingly), others will.
So to the Indonesian government, I simply say again 'what are you guys thinking?'"
• Art Laver of Canada summarized his reaction to the change by writing in to say:
"I was bringing two groups of friends and business people to Bali one group Feb 12 to 24 and the second March 08 to 20. The first group had 24 people in it and the second was 34.
When I read the stupid move of Visa at entry I have canceled and moved the trips to Bangkok and Phuket, Thailand where they want tourists which Bali and Indonesia do not."
• A reader in Australia, Kevin, is more worried about delays at immigration than the proposed cost.
"Whilst nobody wants to pay more taxes, and many may be grossly annoyed at the cost burden, few people will probably be deterred by the entry visa. What will be the real killer are the hours wasted in immigration waiting to pay this stupid fee. The Government claims 7 minutes are all it will take. Fine. 250 people multiplied by 7 minutes each is just over 29 hours processing time. Divide that number by 6 visa collection desks and we can all look forward to spending just under 5 hours waiting for the pleasure of paying the fee! That's assuming there's only one aircraft of arrivals to deal with ... heaven help us if we are the third plane in the queue. Congratulations must surely go to the Indonesian Government on such an astute decision ... it has done more to destroy tourism than any single event in history!"
• Jan in Australia is resigned to the visa fee, but suggests:
"OK so now we know. I would prefer to pay in Australia before starting my journey but it won't stop me having my yearly 2 weeks in Bali. Hopefully it will be well organized and honest!"
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