The introduction on Sunday, February 1, 2004, of the new pay for a visa on arrival system at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport caused some delays, mostly met with good humor by arriving visitors.
The new policy, requiring many foreign nationals who formerly received 60-day stay permits without charge to now pay US$ 25 for a 30 day non-extendable visa and US$ 10 for a 3 day visa, caused some delays in Bali. Guests disembarking their aircraft in Bali went first to a booth to pay the applicable fee, another booth to show their receipt and have a visa-sticker applied in their passport, and yet another visa for a quick "chop" and final inspection of their passport. Once this process is done, guest went to the custom's area for luggage retrieval and bag inspection.
Depending on the traffic levels of inbound flights, total processing time of up to 2 hours were reported with hotel representatives saying it was taking, on the average, twice as long as usual for passengers to process through immigration and custom's clearance.
A number of passengers happily reported they experienced "express service" – a courtesy apparently being extended to the elderly and visitors traveling with small children who were ushered through special lines to hasten the time spent in line.
A Lack of Information
Many visitors complained that they had not been informed of the visa requirement before departing for Indonesia. This failure was underlined in a report in the English-language Jakarta Post that told of "dozens" of passengers scheduled to fly on a Singapore to Lombok Silk Air flight being unable to board the flight due to a lack of visa. Lombok is not one of the official gateways stipulated for the "visa-on-arrival" facility meaning visas must be obtained from the Indonesian Embassy before departure.
In Bali, local officials were on hand at the airport to monitor arrivals on the first day of the visa change. Among those keeping a watch were Bali's new Chief of the Bali Tourism Authority, Mr. Gde Nurjaya, and the Chairman of Provincial People's Consultative Assembly, Mr. Ida Bagus Wesnawa.
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