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(3/8/2003) Last week's on-line poll evoked a number of spirited responses from readers around the world. Here's a sampling of those comments:
Maxine Heppner from Canada wrote:
"Indonesia is viewed as an inexpensive holiday. With the difficult image that is being attached to the country and now that also includes Bali, a visa charge would not help a positive decision for most people wanting a tropical, Asian holiday as most of the other countries in the region have neither visas to be gotten, nor visa fees to be paid. This would only be detrimental to an ever worsening image."
An Australian reader, R. Weston opined:
"... Australians will not come to Bali, especially family groups, if this new system is put in place. It would add $400 to an average family's travel expenses. For that sort of money one can have a grand time in Malaysia or Thailand over and above the slight difference in travel expenses. If the Indonesian government wants to play tit for tat, then do it with the countries involved. Don't penalize the rest of us. Mrs. Meity Robot (editor: Chairperson of ASITA) quite rightly points out that, quote '... we do really need leniency in attracting foreign tourists, not making it difficult for them to visit the country ... sweeping changes to the visa policy would be counterproductive.' It seems the powers that be in Indonesia are cutting their noses off to spite their face. They appear to want their cake and eat it as well."
A resident of Brisbane, Australia, Doug Raymond had this to say:
"Since 1994 my wife our 2 mothers and myself have visited Bali every July-August, we have not missed a year already we have booked this years holiday in Bali despite the Australian Government warning ... The idea of a US $50 visa fee would in our opinion discourage Australians from holidaying in Bali. We propose to bring our employees to Bali next year (2004) should the visa fee apply then it would be $1,000 extra for us to pay, with costs like this we would have to look to going somewhere else ... At the time of writing we have only seen one advertisement for holidays in Bali, alternative destinations are being offered, we still believe Bali to be a 'special place' and always promote Bali to people we meet. The visa would make it harder to convince families in particular to visit Bali."
Shiela, a travel agent from Perth, Western Australia e-mailed:
"... We strongly urge the relevant people to reconsider their visa fee system. Holiday makers are very wary about travel into Bali at this point in time. When this fee was first mooted 2 to 2 1/2 years ago, there was a very loud outcry against it from our Perth travelers. Our clients said then that they would never travel to Bali again if such a fee was introduced. So please ... think long and hard about this at this point in time. We are working hard here to try and rejuvenate the Bali Tourist business."
A Travel Professional, Eimerd Evertsen from California contributed:
"As a owner of a travel agency in San Francisco that actively promotes travel to Bali and Indonesia, I am very disturbed about the tit for tat being considered by the authorities in Indonesia. A vast majority of the people from the US still visiting Indonesia and Bali are opposed to the heavy handed policies of the current US government, and should not be punished for the follies of the US authorities. In the meantime we will continue our promoting of Indonesia and Bali as great places to visit, no matter what the authorities in the U.S. or Indonesia decide on visa policies."
Another Californian, Jon Nichols, warned:
"I have been bringing groups to Bali for the past ten years, the $50 fee would stop my visits and my groups. We will go elsewhere."
Meanwhile, Paul Monks had this to say:
"Already in Europe we have seen the cost of air travel to Indonesia increase since the bombing in Kuta, we can only presume that operators are cutting the number of flights. A further fee of $100 per couple would seriously affect our ability to try and support the Balinese and Indonesian economies ... The Indonesian people deserve the chance to show the world they are a welcoming and friendly destination (as all of us who love your nation already know) but Megawati's government may be robbing them of that chance."
A Balinese reader residing in Australia, Luh Putu Eka Wahyuni, wrote:
"I agree with Mrs. Robot. I do hope the Government will consider about the visa matter for foreigners ... please think seriously for any circumstances (the effects) on new regulation ... that the Government will take before put into action."
And finally, Roger Coburn pointed out:
"Neither Malaysia or Thailand charge for access to their countries. Both these nations have well developed tourist trade. It would be unwise for Indonesia to put it self at a commercial disadvantage over its immediate competitors."
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