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New Immigration Rules Revoked at Bali's Airport

Reacting to Long Passenger Delays and Bitter Complaints, Minister of Justice Indefinitely Suspends New Border Control Measures at Bali's Airport.

Bali News: Bali, airport, fingerprinting, photographing, immigration, corruption
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After angry complaints from arriving tourists compelled to stand in line at Bali's airport for up to four or more hours, the border control management (BCM) procedures requiring fingerprints and photos of arriving passengers have been ditched on instructions from the Minister of Justice and Human Rights.

In operation for only a week, the additional layer of bureaucracy of photographing and fingerprinting arriving tourist was added to the tasks of immigration officers already overwhelmed with administering a multi-step visa-on-arrival process. During peak traffic times at Bali's airports delays exceeding 4 hours were reported after the introduction of the new procedures.

On Monday, May 3, 2010, the fingerprinting and photography requirements were suspended until further notice reducing waiting time more normal parameters, but a still intolerable 2 hour period during peak traffic periods.

The government has promised not to reintroduce the system until an adequate amount of equipment and personnel can be put in place to facilitate the smooth flow-through of arriving passengers.

Immigration Comes Under Criticism

Despite the hasty retreat by immigration authorities, criticism of the poor level of service provided to Bali's inbound visitors persists.

Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), quoted in Radar Bali, said the short-live BCM measures did damage to Bali's tourism industry.

Wijaya said the now-abandoned police had little use and was just the latest in a list of "sloppy" actions performed by the agency in charge of guarding the nation's gateways.

Citing another example, Wijaya pointed to the recent increase from a two-tiered US$10/US$25 visa-on-arrival policy to a flat US$25 fee when it was discovered that some US$300,000 in visa funds had been misappropriated by immigration officials at the Bali airport. Said Wijaya: "According to what I read in the newspaper, immigration increased the fee to reduce corrupt acts. This is their internal problem; this is not the proper policy to resolve the problem."

When the corruption of visa-on-arrival fees was discovered the officials involved were forced to return the stolen money and given administrative sanctions. Then, in order to avoid the future possibility of a 30-day US$25 visa fees being booked at the 7-day US$10 fee with the difference for wayward officials, the government merely increased the fee to US$25 for all visitors.

Wijaya also complained of the lack of prior consultation by Immigration with the Bali Tourism Boars and other tourism stakeholders before major changes in immigration policy are introduced.

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