Entry to Indonesia now not free for Danish, Norwegian visitors

Danish and Norwegian tourists visiting Indonesia will now, among tourists from other 18 countries and one special territory, not be given the visa privilege of free 60-day short visit pass as the country has already reintroduced a policy it had abolished twenty years ago.
     Starting February 1 this year, visitors from these countries will be charged up to US$25 for an entry visa. In addition, the length of stay is cut down to only 30 days.
     The 18 countries and one special territory apart from Denmark and Norway are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Taiwan.
     These countries have earlier enjoyed a free 60-day short visit pass, a policy enacted in the 1980s. The new policy will require a visitor to pay US$10 on arrival for a maximum stay of three days and US$25 for a 30-day visa. The tourists can also pay US$35 for a one-month visa in their home countries, which immigration authorities said can be extended up to six months upon their arrival in Indonesia.
     Meanwhile, the citizens of other countries that currently provide visa-free facilities to Indonesian tourists continue to be given visas-on-arrival free of charge. These countries include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region, Chile, Morocco, Peru and Vietnam.
     Tourism operators have protested the new policy, saying that it would deal a serious blow to the country’s tourism sector, which has already suffered from various problems like the Bali and Marriott terrorist attacks as well as the SARS epidemic.
     Tourist arrivals from January to September 2003 were down 18 per cent from the same period a year earlier.
     Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti claimed during a meeting in January to brief players in the country’s tourism industry on the new visa policy that the funds obtained from the policy would be used to help finance anti-terrorism measures.
     “We spend a lot of money when we search for terror suspects, and this issue has become serious and globalized. Therefore, we are asking for everybody’s understanding on this issue,” said Dorodjatun.
     Indonesia has been targeted as a possible hideout for international terrorists due to its porous borders and lax or corrupt security officials.
     Chairman of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies, Ben Sukma, argued that funding the fight against terrorism was the duty of the government and the national police, not the tourism community.
     Dorodjatun added however that the new policy was only temporary, saying it would be possible for the country to drop the visa fee policy when the situation is back to normal.

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