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Minister Ardika Appeals for Input on Visa Validity

Country's Tourism Boss Calls for Data from Industry in Considering Both Pros & Cons of Shorter Visa Period.

(8/5/2001) Indonesia's current Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. I Gde Ardika, has called on members of the national tourism industry to provide concrete data, both of a positive and negative nature, regarding current proposals to reduce the visa-on-arrival facility granted to citizens of 48 countries from 60 to 28 days. The Minister went on to say, "We will then provide this input to the Department of Justice and the Human Rights Commission in order to ensure that the policy does not damage national tourism."

Meanwhile, objections from members of the travel industry to the proposed shortening of the visa-on-arrival period is growing increasingly strident. Ms. Carla Parengkuan, Executive Director of the Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), said "we are not in agreement with the plan to reduce the visa period. This is not a move forward, but a step backwards."

A similar note of discord was sounded by the Chairwoman of the Association of Indonesian Tour & Travel Agents (ASITA), who pointed out that the proposed shortening of the visa period would "clearly" damage Indonesia's tourism industry. She continued, "if the reason (for the shortening of the visa period) is that the average length of stay for foreign tourists is only ten days, then the change in policy is baseless, There is not a small number of foreign tourists who stay 2-3 months." She went on to explain that many tourists continue their journeys to Sumatra after traveling to the main destinations of Java and Bali.

Mrs. Robot promised that before any decision is made to change the visa policy it should be first considered by the Government appointed Indonesian think tank on tourism affairs.

A similar note of discord was sounded by the Head of the Jogjakarta branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Mr. Yulianto. "To date we have been trying to increase the length of stay and increase the number of tourists visiting Indonesia," he said. "Any change in the tourism policy needs a detailed study," he added, suggesting that the government make no change in the current policy that would result in a strategic change in ongoing efforts to develop the national tourism industry.