In a story carried in the September 23, 2002, on-line edition of The Jakarta Post, the possibility has once again resurfaced that the Government may move ahead and eventually curtail the visa-free access accorded to the visiting citizens of 48 nations.
Despite recent assurances from Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism that plans to eliminate the visa-free facility had been shelved, the latest press reports indicate that the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihzal Mahendra is steadfast in his commitment to see a return to pre-1983 policies that required visitors to Indonesia to obtain a visa before entering Indonesia. Changes introduced in that year at the urging of then Tourism Minister, Joop Ave that granted visa-free entry to most visitors to Indonesia is widely credited with increasing annual tourism arrivals from levels under 400,000 to current annual totals exceeding 5 million.
Minister Yusril is dismissive of fears expressed by the tourism sector that arrivals would be adversely affected by a change in the Visa Policy, citing the need to control the activities of foreigners entering the country with ill-intentions and those who overstay their visitor permits.
It is not clear how a more restrictive visa policy will enhance control by immigration authorities. Currently, the group of visitors to Indonesia suffering the highest incidents of immigration violations is comprised of tourists from the People's Republic of China Ė nationals that already undergo extensive screening and are compelled to issue guarantees before they can obtain a visa to visit Indonesia.
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