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Relaxed Visa Rules for Displaced Tourists?

Minister of Culture and Tourism Asks for Visa Rules to Be Relaxed During Asian Tsunami Crisis.

(1/1/2005) The English-language Jakarta Post reports that Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, has asked the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to ease visa-on-arrival policies in the immediate aftermath of the Sumatra earthquake crisis. The Minister is reported to have asked that tourists not from a country entitled to purchase a visa on arrival be extended this facility by the Immigration department.

Tourist not on the list of visa-free countries (e.g. ASEAN Members) or from one of the 22 countries eligible to purchase a visa at an Indonesian port are normally required to apply before hand with their home-country Indonesian Embassy.

The Minister made the suggestion to facilitate the large number of tourists still desiring to holiday in Asia but diverting their travel plans from the areas devastated by the December 26, 2004 earthquake and resulting tsunami.

Quoted in the Jakarta Post the Minister said, "It's difficult for them to change their vacation dates, so we will give them a visa on arrival in this situation."

It is not clear if the Immigration Departments has accepted Minister Wacik's recommendation and travelers should check with their tour operator or airlines if they are citizens of a nation normally required to obtain a visa before entering Indonesia.