Representatives of the Tourism Think Tank Masyarakyat Pariwisata Indonesia (MPI) have suggested that it is too early to conclude that the controversial visa on arrival fee is having no effect on tourism arrivals.
Ms. Meity Robot, the Vice-Chairman of the MPI, speaking recently in Jakarta at a seminar "Visa on Arrival: Blessing or Disaster" said, "it is too premature to claim the VOA (visa on arrival) has no effect on tourism arrivals."
Robot suggested that officials who compare 2004 arrivals with the same month in 2003 as proof that the VOA is a success are guilty of misleading the public. "In fact, 2003 tourist arrivals were down drastically as the result of the Bali bombing, the war in Iraq and the devastating impact of SARS," she explained.
Echoing a theme repeatedly made at balidiscovery.com, Robot said that in order to evaluate the effect of the visa policy we need to compare current performance with arrivals in the first half of 2001.
In evaluating nationwide arrivals for the first six months of 2004 totaling 2.6 million, you need to look at the same period for the three preceding years. According to Robot, while the 2004 figures represents an improvement of 31% when compared to the unrepresentative year of 2003 (1.9 million), the 2004 totals show a drop of 17% when compared to 2002 and 15% from results in 2001.
Perhaps more indicative of the impact of the VOA is the current failure of the European and American arrival numbers to regain the momentum of their past performance in 2001.
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