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Visa Policy Change Bad for Asian Tourism

Tourism Expert Predicts Indonesian Tourism Arrivals will Suffer Due to Elimination of the 7-Day Visa-on-Arrival.

(2/27/2010) Wuryastuti Sunario, Chairman of Care Tourism, told Bisnis.com that the elimination of the 7-day visa-on-arrival is going to negatively impact targets of visitors from Asian markets and, because of this the policy should be reviewed.

Said Sunario: "The Directorate General of Immigration and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism are in agreement to review this policy after three months dating from its implementation on January 26, 2010, (meanwhile) the reaction of the market will be to divert their travel to other countries. In the end the Republic of Indonesia will see losses in visitors from main Asian markets such as China, Japan, India and South Korea."

The ASEAN market visiting Indonesia are allowed visa-free visits and are therefore unaffected by the change in visa-on-arrivals, but other Asian markets outside of ASEAN who make frequent visits to Bintan and Batam via Singapore will be affected. According to Sunario, this is especially the case in the relatively easier marketing effort of luring short-term visits over short-haul distances as opposed to trying to secure the more elusive, long-haul visitors staying for 30 days.

The respected tourism authority also pointed out that the Asian market is very sensitive to price, meaning that short term visitors who paid US$10 for a 7-day visa will now be compelled to pay US$25 for the same visit.

Sunario explained that many international tourist coming to Indonesia only require a 7-day visa-on-arrival, especially those that come for a weekend visit to play golf in Bintan or Batam, or those on short business visits to Jakarta and other destinations.

"For many of these, it will be more interesting to visit a neighboring destination who offers a cheaper or free visa. It's only logical that if they played golf three times a month they only paid US$30, but not must pay US$75," said Sunario.