Indonesia to Relax Tourism Visa Process

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Oct. 7 – Indonesia, currently hosting the annual APEC CEO Summit, will relax its tourist visa application process in a move that should help increase the numbers of travelers visiting the country. Indonesia’s tourism industry contributes to about 9 percent of Indonesia’s economy each year, with over 1 million tourists from China arriving in Bali alone.

From January-August this year, foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia reached 5.64 million – an increase of 8.3 percent compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport accounts for the largest number of overseas tourist arrivals, at about 37 percent of the total.

At present, overseas visitors from 64 countries, including the United States, Britain, China, Japan and Brazil, are able to apply for a 30-day visa on arrival in Indonesia at a cost of US$25. A report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel & Tourism Council said that easing the issuance of visas has the potential to create 2.6 million additional jobs among the 21 members of APEC by 2016. This would further inject US$89 billion in spending into the APEC economies, and increase the number of visiting tourists by 57 million.

“This report clearly shows that placing visa facilitation as a national priority can translate into significant socioeconomic benefits in terms of income and jobs generated by the growth of tourism demand,” said Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General.

With 21 percent of international tourists expected to arrive in APEC nations on traditional visas between 2014 and 2016, it is becoming increasingly important to reform visa procedures to support greater tourist flow.

“The challenge now is to establish cooperation between officials working in tourism, finance, customs, immigration, security, transportation and airport authorities which are in different working groups,” said Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu.

The UNWTO further notes that it will be important to maximize information and communication technologies to improve visa procedures, including the delivery of data, implementing an electronic-based visa program and creating regional-based agreement for visa facilitation. It will be further important for Indonesia to develop their infrastructure to support tourist flow, such as increasing the capacity of their airports, seaports and roads.

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