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Calls to Delay Changes in Visa Policy

Economic Minister asks Visa Change to be Delayed until Late 2004. Disagreement Appears to be Hardening in Cabinet on Visa on Arrival Debate.

(7/25/2004) Confusion and growing dissent appears to be growing on the Presidential Decree that will remove the visa free facility currently enjoyed by the citizens of 48 countries and replace it with a purchased visa on arrival.

Latest reports from Jakarta indicate that the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, in response to widespread resistance to the new visa policy from the tourism industry, has formally asked that any change be delayed at least until the end of 2004. This was revealed in comments made by Mr. Pontjo Sutowo, the Chairman of the Indonesian Tourism Community (MPI) in recent comments to the press. Despite the Coordinating Minister's plea, according to Mr. Sutowo, the Minister of Justice and Human Rights Mr. Yusril Ihaza Mahendra remains steadfast in his support of the new visa policy, insisting it be introduced on January 1, 2004.

Socialization Process

Minister Mahendra had promised to travel with the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. I Gede Ardika, to the main tourism areas of the Country including Bali, to socialize the new policy before its actual introduction. With the planned introduction only one month away, no announcement has been made for a date for the proposed "socialization workshop" in Bali.

Meanwhile, local tourism leaders in Bali have been vociferous in their rejection of the change in the visa policy, insisting it will represent an unbearable burden for many tourism companies struggling on the edge of collapse. The spokesman for the local tourism association Paras Paros, Mr. Made Suryawan, has called on the Government to use the promised "socialization workshops" to conduct public hearings, allowing those who will suffer the effects of the new visa policy to provide input before any final policy is decided.