Last week's article "Visa Facility Under Threat Again" stimulated substantial mail from readers around the world - without exeption opposed to any change that would see a $50 visa fee charged on arrival.
Here's some excerpts from our mailbag:
THE POOR WILL SUFFER MOST
Neil Trudgen of Morely, West Australia firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: "I would not like to see a US $50 Visa fee for Australian citizens ... . I am a pensioner and together with my wife have visited your country four times because we can afford the holiday. If the fee is imposed then we would be forced to stay at home.
On our holidays we usually stay in home stays and move around the island and what we spend is usually appreciated by some of the less affluent people. The visa fees will most likely give your government more money for governing but will rob a lot of the poorer people as we will not be there to spend our money."
IS THIS AN ISOLATIONIST POLICY?
Tony, a reader from Australia email@example.com writes: "This is incredible.
I've being coming to Bali 3-4 times per year I have made many Balinese friends and this will impact on my and my family's ability to maintain these ties.... is this what Indonesia wants? Or does it want its people to understand (and) be understood and therefore respected by people of other nations? Unbelievable."
CHANGE WILL IMPACT FAMILY TRAVEL
Grant Blackman, a travel agent from Australia firstname.lastname@example.org had some kind words for Bali Update and some harsh criticism for any proposed visa fee: "…Congratulations to Bali Update for your Frank and
Informative Newsletters. I look forward to receiving them each week. I often learn more about what is happening in Bali and Indonesia than what I do from Airlines and Trade Magazines.
I am a Travel Agent from Australia who has always been a strong supporter of Bali, having been to Bali on many occasions myself. I am very disappointed to hear that the Visa Free Facility is again under threat. A charge of US$50.00 per person is very harsh as this could mean an additional cost of AU$400.00 approx. for the average family traveling to Indonesia. Selling travel in these uncertain times is difficult enough without the additional costs for Visa's to Indonesia.
Many people will look at traveling to an alternative ASEAN destination that does not require Visa's. From my personal experience I understand that Bali is still a very affordable Travel Destination, but unfortunately many travelers do not look past the initial cost of accommodation, flights, Taxes
and Visa's. By removing the Visa Free Facility this is increasing the initial cost of travel to Indonesia, where as places like Thailand and
Malaysia still continue to have Visa Free Facilities.
Whilst overall Bali remains a cost affective Travel Destination for Families
an additional burden of about AU$400.00 may wipe Bali out of the Market, although Bali is still one of the cheapest places to eat and for entertainment, AU$400.00 will go a long way in Thailand or Malaysia. These I feel will force many travelers (not just Australians) to look elsewhere for an affordable Family Holiday.
My main concern is for the wonderfully friendly people of Bali. I would hate to see them suffer from another downturn in Travel. I understand that Indonesia needs money, but the Departure Tax has already increased by 100% in the last year, not that I think this was a bad move. Surely by bringing in a fee for Visa's this will be detrimental to what the Government is trying to achieve, because if less people travel to Indonesia the less income it will generate to everyone."
DRIVING VISITORS AWAY
Dale Morris, email@example.com, from Perth, Australia thinks the new policy is anti-visitors: "Our family are planning a trip to South East Asia in Oct-Nov 2002 we have a number of countries to choose from if Indonesia puts in a Visa 'TAX' we still have a choice of Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore. $50 US is something that will drive us away for sure."
A Bali Update reader SAS firstname.lastname@example.org said: "A really classic case of cutting off the hand that feeds you. Don't these people READ the statistics on income from tourism????"
COMMENTS FROM A BALI HOTELIER
Jean Luc Bonneau email@example.com of Bali's Sekar Nusa Resort stated: "It is not a good marketing strategy. All Hoteliers in Bali are doing so hard to get back on track. It is purely a killing process of Bali tourism industry. Do we really need this?
All our neighbors will be happy to take the overall business from Bali.
I think all of us are really concerned by the future of Bali ... . One thing is very sure. No tourist will want to pay this fee. When you have already tried so much to find the best room rates as low as $ 30, I don't think, anyone will be so stupid to pay $ 50 per person for fees at the airport."
WILL BALI BECOME AN IMPOSSIBLE DESTINATION?
And finally, a contribution from an Australian tourism consultant, Andrew Sivijs firstname.lastname@example.org, who said: "The possibility of increased visa restrictions for Indonesia (let's face it, that's what they really are) do not bode well for Bali. As a destination struggling with visitor movements since the September 11 tragedy and even prior to it, Bali can ill afford any shortsighted adjustment to its visa program. It appears an exercise in revenue raising is on the cards but with all revenue generation; there is an expense somewhere along the line. On the ground, airport administrators will be burdened with the responsibility of collecting any visa charge. This no doubt will be a costly exercise.
Program organizers and developers, particularly in the MICE industry, will be forced to include any cost in their own programs. This has top be passed on to the market, which in turn makes Bali a less competitive option for business and industry customers. The domino affect continues through the industry...
The Australian family market will, no doubt, react to any further cost as can be expected - by staying at home or going somewhere else such as Thailand, Fiji, Malaysia etc.... A family of four can quickly accumulate mounting taxes and charges when considering international travel. As a parent, believe me, these start to snowball and some destinations simply become impossible.
Interestingly, your article does not indicate any particular reason(s) for this review of the current visa policy. What was the trigger for this and is it simply an attempt to yet again, slug the tourism industry and the visitor with more charges? This cash cow known as tourism in some countries is getting very wobbly at the knees...."
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