Indonesia visa change under fire

29 Jan 2010

Indonesia’s scrapping of its US$10 week-long visa-on-arrival (VOA) will damage the business events sector and could inhibit regular business travellers, according to its own tourism ministry and industry figures.

The decision to impose a single 30-day VOA, costing US$25, was made by the country’s immigration ministry, but the tourism ministry said it was urging a review.

Firmansyah Hakim, the ministry’s director general of tourism destination development, told the Jakarta Globe newspaper that he was “worried the regulation would affect foreign tourists who make frequent short stays”.

One likely casualty are the Indonesian island resorts of Bintan and Batam just a one-hour ferry ride from Singapore. These are favourite weekend destinations for locals and visitors and a major weekday venue for offshore meetings and teambuilding by Singapore-based companies.

Asad Shiraz, director marketing, Bintan Resorts International, said: “We are definitely concerned and disappointed, as most visitors to Bintan Resorts combine their trips with Singapore and do not stay longer than seven days. Hence, the US$15 increase in VOA fee does add substantially to the cost of a quick getaway, especially for frequent golfers and day-trippers. The business events and other sectors are expected to be similarly affected.

“When the VOA facility for 64 countries was implemented, it was definitely a step in the right direction to boost tourism as Bintan Resorts is one of the major international gateways to Indonesia, with a record high of 410,454 visitor arrivals in 2009.”

While a number of southeast Asian citizens, such as Singaporean, Thai, Filipino and Vietnamese passport holders have visa-free arrangements. Citizens of the majority of countries must use VOA facilities or apply in advance.

Kenny Coyle

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