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Changes to Indonesia’s Visa on Arrival Rule

Sudden Change to Indonesia's Visa Rules Causes Concern in Tourism Circles.

(2/1/2010) In a dramatic change to the current immigration rules, starting on January 26, 2010, foreign tourists from countries eligible for "visa-on-arrival" will now be given a 30 day visa that can be renewed for an additional 30 days.

As part of the new changes the 7-day visa at US$10 has been abolished, with the 30-day US$25 visa (renewable for an additional 30 days) being the only visa that can be issued to eligible tourists.

Not Without Problems

The move, championed by the government as a step to help increase tourist visitors to Indonesia and encourage a longer length of stay, is not without its critics.

• Suggesting the move was taken without inter-departmental consultation, Firmansyah Hakim, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's Director General of Tourism Destination Development was quoted by The Jakarta Globe criticizing the new policy, saying: "I am worried the regulation would affect foreign tourists who make frequent short stays . . .We are going to ask the immigration department to sit down with us and hopefully we can come up with a solution," he said.

Firmansyah added: "We hope this policy will extend tourists’ stays in Indonesia, giving them a chance to visit more places in the country," he said. "The policy will also simplify the supervision of overstaying foreign tourists because there is only one visa option."

• Officials have depicted the new policy as a means to combat corruption within Indonesia’s immigration department. In 2009, immigration officials at the Denpasar Airport immigration office were caught embezzling Rp. 3 Billion (US$300,000) in visa fees obtain through the misreporting of 7-day and 30-day fees.

• Some tourism figures are unhappy that tourists are not automatically given a 60 day visa on arrival, removing the need for any renewal process and the still unclear cost of extending the original visa.

• According to the Indonesia Digest, the new visa policy has increased the cost for some of a short family outing to Riau island for a day at the beach or a round of golf. Moreover, the new policy was introduced with little advance notice, disrupting existing holiday bookings made with travel agents, golf course and hotels in Batam and Bintan. The Governor of Riau promise has written urgently to Coordinating Minister for the economy demanding a review of the new policy.

It should be noted that ASEAN nationals are exempt for the new visa policy and are granted a visa-free facility for their Indonesian visits.