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Tit for Tat

Following New U.S. Immigration Rules, Indonesia Threatens to Tighten Visa Policies.

(1/27/2003) Following a recent decision by the U.S. Immigration and Natural Services to require all Indonesian males over the age of 16 visiting the United States to undergo rigorous screening and reporting controls, Indonesia is now re-examining its options, threatening to eliminate or modify the visa-on-arrival facility currently granted to the visitors from 48 countries.

In a move headed by Indonesia's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihza Mahendra has declared the matter an issue of "national dignity" in the face of the targeting of Indonesians wishing to visit the U.S..

The Minister is calling for the elimination of a visa on arrival for U.S. passport holders, a group who currently receive a stay permit for 60 days upon landing in Indonesia. Quoted in the English language Jakarta Post, Minister Yusril said, "We must take firm action against countries that treat us unfairly, so we are reviewing the visa-on-arrival facility for those countries."

Minister Yusril, even prior to the most recent change in U.S. immigration policies, has been a member of a group of senior political leaders lobbying for a curtailment on the visa-on-arrival policy in favor of visa-on-application system in combination with a revenue producing visa application fee.

ASITA Urges Caution

The Chairperson of the Indonesian Travel and Tour Association (ASITA), Mrs. Meity Robot, has urged caution in the latest call to curtail the visa-on-arrival policies.

Quoted in the Jakarta Post, Robot said, "at this difficult time after the terrorist attacks we do really need leniency in attracting foreign tourists, not making it difficult for them to visit the country."

Calling for selectivity in introducing any changes in visa policies, Robot pointed out that including nations such as Japan and Korea in any sweeping changes to the visa policy would be counterproductive as these countries have not altered their policies for Indonesian visitors. Moreover, the Government has recently intensified efforts to increase tourism flows from these countries.

 

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