The Saturday, August 31, 2002, edition of the Jakarta Post reports that the Directorate General of Immigration is proposing that the government scrap the current visa-free facility extended to 48 countries, reducing the number of countries eligible to arrive without a visa to only 14.
Under the proposal put forth by the immigration department, virtually all the current main source countries for tourism visitors, except ASEAN member nations, would be required to apply for a visa before visiting Indonesia.
This latest proposal comes as a shock to the tourism community that widely assumed threatened changes in visa policy had been resolved with the recent announcement by the Minister of Culture and Tourism stating that the visa-free-facility would be reduced from 60 to 30 days.
According to the Jakarta Post, immigration officials contend that the revocation of the visa-free facility is necessary to curb illegal workers and those entering the country to perform non-tourism related activities. An additional consideration is a desire to extend visa-free facilities only to those countries that reciprocate with a similar program for Indonesian passport holders.
Tourism observers are concerned with the latest proposal claiming such a move would be disastrous to an industry that has become a major earner of much-needed foreign exchange. Indonesia's benchmarks the birth of it substantial tourism industry from 1983, when visitor numbers suddenly increased after the introduction of the current visa-free facility.
It should be noted that the government has made no formal response to the latest proposal from the Director General of Immigration.
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