Foreign tourists and businesspeople from 64 countries have welcomed the new policy allowing a visa-on-arrival extension for up to 60 days, saying it will encourage people to spend more time in the archipelago.
A new regulation stipulates that from Jan. 26 onward, Indonesia will provide a 30-day visa-on-arrival, with the possible extension of another 30 days.
The government also announced that it would no longer issue the visa-on-arrival for seven days and tourists applying for the visa would receive the initial 30-day permit for US$25.
Foreign tourists and businesspeople who previously had seven-day visas can extend them to 30 days without having to leave the country.
The new regulation reportedly aims to attract more foreign tourists to travel and spend more time within the archipelago.
“If tourists want to stay longer than 30 days, they can apply for a maximum 30-day extension,” said Maroloan J. Baringbing, head of media, at the immigration section of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.
He said the new policy would give the government better control of the non-tax revenue from immigration.
It is also aimed at boosting tourism in the country.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Andrea Cooper, an Australian tourist who visited Kalimantan last year for 14 days on the visa-on-arrival.
“The extension is more welcoming than the previous limit.”
Chinese tourist Ailin Chen, who visited Jakarta and Yogyakarta two years ago and has relatives in Indonesia, said the visa extension would encourage people to explore the country more.
“Indonesia is a very large country with much to observe and enjoy.
“If people could stay longer, they would be encouraged to see more. And it would benefit the local economy if tourists spend money here,” she said.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry targets to net 7 million international tourists in 2010, up from 6.4 million last year.
This target is much smaller than the number of tourists in neighboring Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, which last year attracted 10 million, 15 million and 22 million visitors respectively.
In the last 12 years to 2007, tourist numbers fluctuated between 4 million and 5 million.
The average length of stay has declined from 10 days in 1997 to barely 8.5 days in 2008.
Countries granted on-arrival visa by Indonesia
1. South Africa
9. The Netherlands
12. Czech Republic
30. South Korea
53. Saudi Arabia
54. New Zealand
62. Timor Leste
Source : The Jakarta Post