During a regional meeting of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) held in Lombok on January 29, 2004, tourism leaders said they feared Lombok's non-inclusion on the list of ports where visa-on-arrival can be issued will represent another painful setback for the Island's already ailing tourism industry.
According to Mr. Misbach Mulyadi, the Chairman of ASITA for Nusa Tenggara Barat, Lombok had gradually managed to attract investors during the period 1990 -1998, only to see those efforts retreat following the World Trade Center tragedy, the Bali bombing of 2002, and the SARS scare. He claimed that a number of hotels in Lombok have been forced to close off large sections of their room inventories and of the 86 travel agents registered there only 50 continued to operate.
Fears for Silk Air
At the same meeting, Mr. Misbach presented his fear that the new visa rules requiring most tourists arriving directly on international flights in Lombok to organize a visa before departure may cause the twice-weekly Silk Air service from Singapore to be reduced to one time a week or, perhaps, he feared, to be cancelled completely.
Call for Visa Facility for Lombok
Representing the Governor of Lombok, the Provincial Secretary, Mr. Nanang Samodera, confirmed that the Governor's office was approaching the Government to introduce the visa-on-arrival facility at Mataram's Selaparang airport.
The Chairman of the Lombok Hotel Association, Casa Grande, Mr. John Halpin, said he could not understand why Lombok had been left off the list of airports able to provide the new visa facility. He said the oversight will only help to further destroy Lombok tourism, make the situation more difficult for local businesses, and reduce the tax revenues collected by the Government.
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