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Intra-ASEAN Barriers to Tourism

ASEAN Business and Investment Summit Identifies Tariff Barriers to Region's Tourism Growth.

(10/13/2003) Speakers at a seminar on Business Partnerships Among ASEAN Countries held in Bali on October 7, 2003, the third day of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, identified tariff and non-tariff barriers to tourism development in the region.

During a discussion of the need for a one-visa policy tourism experts called for urgent discussions among ASEAN countries on how to remove barriers to travel resulting from the variety of visa entry requirements existing with ASEAN and fiscal taxes affecting intra-regional travel.

Speaking at the seminar held at the Bali Hilton International in Nusa Dua, Ms. Elly Hutabarat, a member of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Indonesia Chapter Board said there is a need to eliminate visa requirements for visitors to ASEAN or, at the very least, establish a system where a single visa applies for those wishing to visit several countries in the 10 member association.

Ms. Hutabarat bemoaned recent changes in Indonesia's immigration policies which will require the citizens of many countries to purchase a visa upon arrival in Indonesia. She went on to predict that these changes in Indonesia's policy will cause further erosion in arrival numbers and result in significant losses in badly needed foreign exchange. Because of this, Ms. Hutabarat renewed her call for the Government to reconsider its plans for the new visa-on-arrival policy.

Discussions also focused on the Rp. 1 million (approximately US$ 119) fiscal tax which must be paid by all Indonesian residents each time they travel abroad. Participants pointed out how such fees adversely affect intra regional travel, acting as disincentives to the growing youth-travel market and to short visits to neighboring ASEAN countries.