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(4/21/2003) Readers continue to express their opinion regarding the Presidential Decision to end the visa-free-on-arrival for 48 countries.
• Mr. Benoît Répessé, a veteran of the Garuda Indonesia office in Paris wrote:
"Having followed this ludicrous project of charging a visa fee for the past two years, with the dramatic effects this would entail on the already decreasing number of French tourists wishing to travel to Indonesia - and this, in spite of the present travel ban by French authorities and S.A.R.S ... I have a hard time understanding what logic lays behind such a detrimental move. Is someone or a special interest group paid to further reduce tourism in Indonesia or is someone eager to kill the chicken laying the golden egg?
For our part in France, the Garuda Indonesia office reduced perfectly dedicated and competent staff from 32 people in October 1998, to 2 starting January 2003, and a probable zero as of June of this year.
Having already lost all hope, as far as we are concerned, we have little to gain or lose from such idiocentric decisions, but can only be saddened that more people in Indonesia will most certainly loose their jobs and possessions due to such found-less and absurd decisions.
Let us hope that this Presidential decree be withdrawn in time to stop this nonsense and promote Indonesia as a touristic destination rather than to kill it all together. It would seem that enough damage has already been done.
Kind but saddened regards from those who love Indonesia and wish the best to all Indonesians, including the many thousands who work in what should be one of the leading tourist industries in the world. Euthanasia, as it were, is not always the best alternative to treat a suffering patient. Nor is suicide."
• Commenting on our Editorial: Where's the Logic, Lori Walker wrote to say:
"I agree that the visa charge would be a bad idea. It wouldn't stop me coming as a single person but it would stop some families I know. Family tourism is a built in visitor recruitment mechanism...could any kid not want to return as a grown-up? "
• The Richard's Family from Melbourne, Australia contributed the following:
"My family and I have been to Bali each year since 1991 and twice in the last six months. We spent a month in Bali August/September 2002 prior to Bombing. As you can imagine Bali was its usual busy place with all the hustle and bustle. Then we came back in January for 10 nights at a cost of around $15,000 plus spending (my husband, myself and children 17, 15, 12 and 4). It was allot of money but we wanted to see our Balinese friends and to just support the place we love so much. I have had a quote for an August holiday and for 9 nights around $1,900 each. I don't understand why there are no cheaper deals. When there was a problem in Fiji they promoted a back to Fiji holiday and they were extremely reasonable prices. Now with the tax introduced it will add hundreds of dollars to my holiday. I am in phone contact with Bali and the people are struggling to survive, we are sending money when we can, but we cannot help everyone. Please, we want to come back! The tourists need to be arriving. What is going on?"
• An Indonesian reader, Fitri Supardi expresses personal disappointment with the President's decision:
"Oh dear oh dear.
Do we have to regret that we have elected Megawati as our president ? We thought because she has background and a special bound with this island, she will (be) the first people who supports (the) Bali people, we got our support from all elements, Australian, and it turns out she will be the first person who (has) disappointed us, say no more, what was she thinking when she made the decision, we cry for you Megawati ???"
• An American travel organizer, Gaylon Duke said:
". . .for the past few years my group, Bali Art Project, has been bringing up to 25 people from America to Bali for a month each June. Now with the threat of terror and the government's lax attitude which created the Opportunities for such things to occur, the tremendous threat of SARS, and now on top of that this visa change which makes it clear the Indonesian government no longer wants Americans there, we shall oblige (to go elsewhere). We are now making plans to go to Peru instead of Bali for the month of June with our 25 people.
We'll miss Bali but Peru is so nice, safe, and welcoming."
• We did receive a note supporting the change in policy from Jeffrie Trika of Globe Australia Travel in Kew, Victoria (Australia), who commented:
"Congratulations to the Indonesian Government.
It is brave to introduce such move and it is rightly to do so.
It's about time that tourist should apply for a visa to come a beautiful country like Indonesia. Visa requirement will make tourists aware that Indonesia is serious in their tourism industry and income generated from it will help reconstruct the country for a better holiday and tourist destination. Visa requirement will eliminate "unwanted" tourist and increase repeat clienteles.
Even country like Vietnam requires a visa for tourist to visit.
$50 will not stop tourist coming to Indonesia. They will come back in huge numbers.
Indonesian tourism industry should take full advantage from this move."
Time Share Salesmen
• For a change of pace and topic, Chris Westland of Hong Kong had this to say about his experience with the island's ubiquitous time-share salesmen:
"My family and I have come to Bali again for the first time since the terrorist act (we had been 4 times before). I predict that any recovery of tourism is going to be completely squashed by the Time-Share scams that are everywhere in Bali. We got 3 calls this morning alone saying that we had 'won'. Timeshare scam artists are the touristic cockroaches of any tropical resort. But they are especially prevalent here. They steal money from the local economy (commit their scam and then send the money back to Britain, Australia or NZ - instead of putting it into the local economy) and they leave tourists with a bad taste. These Timeshare cockroaches are destroying Bali.
Until I have some public indication that Bali has clamped down on Timeshare scam artists, I can tell you that we will not be back to Bali."
We look forward to receiving your comments at balidiscovery.com.
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