The change in national visa policy set to occur on February 1, 2004, has few friends in Indonesia's tourism industry where it is seen as a step-backward in efforts to re-invigorate the Nation's tourism fortunes.
Joining the chorus of those who see a 30 day visa purchased at the airport upon arrival as "bad for business" is Bali's fledgling yacht tourism sector who fear the new immigration policy will make Indonesia even more inaccessible to yachtsmen and yachtswomen.
Representative of the concerns felt for yacht tourism, Mr. Dick McCune, the Founder of the Royal Bali Yacht Club (RBYC) and General Manager of the Bali Marina told balidiscovery.com that he "doubts that anyone in the country has considered the impact of the 30 day visa on visiting yachts. After all it's a small tourism market and destined to stay that way with all the barriers provided by the Government."
The new policy is a seeming contradiction to official pronouncements supporting sea-tourism and, according to McCune, likely to discourage any seminal moves to invest in marine tourism projects. As McCune explained, "Indonesia is clearly 25 years behind Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand in terms of the yachting industry and sailing events. Each year an estimated 150 yachts transit Indonesian waters to take their tourist dollars to other countries because of the high cost and complicated procedures in Indonesia. With the new 30 day visa this can only get worse. Slow sailing yachts cannot possibly see much of this archipelago of 17,000 islands in 60 days, let alone with a 30 day visa. All yachts will now require an extendable Social Budaya Visa to enjoy the area at all and the cost and inconvenience continues to grow."
He continued, "Our nearest neighbors, Australia, must now pay an average of A$ 667.90 for one boat, husband & wife. That's equal to A$ 1,453.40 for a family of four to sail through Indonesia. This will buy them a Cruising Permit, a Social Budaya Visa, a port clearance into the country and one visa extension. Many of these people save money for a lifetime to pursue their dream of sailing to exotic lands. They are not all rich people, contrary to some popular beliefs."
The RYBC was established in February 2002 under the rules of Indonesian Sailing Federation. The Club organizes a number of local sailing events including the annual Darwin to Bali Yacht Race.
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