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(5/7/2002) CHANGES WILL BE DEVASTATING
Geordie, had the following reaction to our editorial urging any new visa fee should be included in airline ticket prices:
If Indonesia implements the visa fees, and the shorter visa periods, it will have devastating effects to the tourism industry.
Maybe they are trying to reduce the "backpacker" tourists, but these people provide income too. How many losmen and restaurants will go under from that alone?
... Disguising the visa fee in the ticket won't solve the problem. If I am traveling with an Indonesian, and their ticket is a different price than mine, this is an issue. Travel agents would have to issue different ticket prices based on nationality.
Getting a ticket to a destination is hard enough without throwing in these exceptional factors. I don't agree with the fiscal policy of exiting Indonesians either, but it seems to me that any visa fee in a time when you want all the income and good notoriety possible is ludicrous.
PROPOSED CHANGES A MAJOR MISTAKE
Roger Coburn, DARRCHEM@aol.com, from the United Kingdom, wrote to add:
A visa fee and the proposed shortening of the permitted stay to 30 days would a major mistake and making the visa fee payable on arrival would be a recipe for disaster (and would lead some into temptation).
Our first visit to Bali was in 1990 and since then we have been back 8 times. It is simply our favourite place on the planet and we miss it greatly when we don't go.
At the same time we are very well aware of all the other fantastic places around the Far East and elsewhere. For example, last year we visited Malaysia and had a great time driving around the country. We shall certainly return there. Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong are competing for the same tourists. India too is getting more and more tourism.
Most of those destinations already have more developed tourism infrastructure and are chasing the business.
... Any perceived gain would be outweighed by an inevitable drop of tourist numbers. I hear that even the Aussies are giving Bali a miss. When you are in a competitive market you don't put your price up!!
By all means, if they really need more revenue, increase the Airport/Departure Tax, but make that ticket inclusive. Most tourist will also experience various "unofficial" taxes and levies when visiting Bali, surely everyone is already making a great deal of money out of us tourists. don't kill the golden goose.
FEE MAY MEAN SHORTER STAYS AND LESS BUSINESS FOR REMOTE REGIONS
Elizabeth House, firstname.lastname@example.org, had the following comments regarding our article "Minister Ardika Hints at Visa Changes":
I have been coming to Indonesia since 1973 and have formed many friendships over this time. I look forward every year to take 6 weeks away from my extremely stressful job to come to visit friends and delight in what my beloved Indonesia has to offer.
During my many visits I have visited Java, Sumatra, Bali, Flores, Sumba, and West Timor where I have studied weaving. While I am in a position to afford to pay for the visa, I plead with the Minister to still allow the possibility to stay for the full 60 days. This is not only for myself but for those citizens of Indonesia who live outside the main tourist islands, and whose lives are considerably enhanced by the income derived from foreign tourists who venture their way.
I would also like to say that I am wanting to book my holiday for this year starting the second week in July, and am worried that if I do the visa period will be shortened and I will only be able to visit for 15 days. I would not be able to justify the expense of coming to Indonesia for such a short stay.
LOOK AT OTHER TAXES, TOO
A Dutch reader, Ir. R. Kemner, email@example.com, suggests the Government should even consider reducing some visa fees:
I do agree with the view that making the visa more expensive will not contribute tourism and will produce several negative effects.
Indonesia however is still in need of money. A better solution to improve the money situation and increase employment at the same time might be a cheaper long stay visa (Wisatawan Lanjut Usia) in combination with levying of tax.
Here a win-win situation may occur. Indonesia has tax treaties with many countries. A fixed point in those treaties is that a country may levy tax upon a citizen that stay more then 180 days in that country (and the other country is then not allowed to levy tax). As, in general, the tax to be paid is lower in Indonesia then in (most) western countries this may attract (richer) retired people. Besides the extra tax income Indonesia benefit also from creating employment home building, servants) and the purchasing power of the retired people.
A LARGE SUCKING SOUND
Matthew Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org, had this to add to our "ticket inclusive" editorial:
Your point on the visa fees is well-taken but is not harsh enough on the lawmakers.
In reality, the travel industry should fight tooth and nail against this proposal as it is downright dangerous to the Indonesian travel industry. Quite frankly, the reason a lot of people come to Indonesia now rather than to Vietnam, Cambodia or a host of other countries is because at present, it is pretty easy as there is no visa requirement. Even for many, there are a lot of complaints at the present time because having to go in and out of the country every 60 days is an unnecessary hassle. However, should the fee be implemented, I can guarantee a large sucking sound of tourists heading to Indochina and bypassing Indonesia.
Worse still, if the fee is imposed on regional visitors like Australians, Singaporeans or Malaysians, the results will be worse still. Imagine for an Australian having to add 25% to the price of their transport to Indonesia thanks to a $50 visa charge. It's crazy.
I just don't believe that the top guys in the government can actually go through with this kind of thing. Even during the Suharto years there were not any measures taken that would so directly and negatively impact the industry in the country.
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