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Bali Governor Wants To Make Urgent Changes To The Tourist Visa On Arrival

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It has been a big week for tourism policy announcements in Bali. From a ban on all activities on the island’s mountains to a comprehensive list of do’s and don’t for visitors, there’s a lot to take in.

Amongst all the changes, crackdowns, and amendments, Bali’s Governor Koster has also announced an urgent review into the visa-on-arrival for tourists. 

Temple Gate in Bali.jpg

Indonesia’s visa on arrival is one of the most accessible visa categories in the world. Available to citizens from 92 counties around the globe for IDR 500,000 (USD 34), the visa on arrival allows tourists to explore the best of Indonesia for up to 30 days at a time.

The visa on arrival can also be extended one time for an additional 30 days, and the Department of Immigration recently launched an online facility where tourists can both apply for and extend their visa on arrival from their smartphones or laptops. 

While many tourists and tourism businesses view the visa-on-arrival program in Indonesia as a positive policy, the Governor of Bali has announced that he wants to see an urgent review of the visa category in light of a recent rise in badly behaved tourists on the island.

Addressing a press conference of policymakers, regency leaders, and reporters this week, Governor Koster said ‘we will immediately hold a meeting with the Central Government to address and evaluate together this Visa on Arrival policy so that its implementation does not make Bali tourism seem cheap, which in turn will harm the image of Bali tourism.”

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Initially, Governor Koster announced that he wanted to revoke the visa on arrival just for citizens from Russia and Ukraine following an influx of arrivals to Bali after the start of the war.

Speaking at the time of the first announcement, the Governor said, “I have written to the Minister of Law and Human Rights to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to revoke visas on arrival for Russian and Ukrainian citizens who want to go to Bali.” 

The provincial government was not only concerned about the ‘quality’ of tourists from all nations arriving on the visa on arrival but also a rise in the number of foreigners working illegally on the island. 

The Governor has noted on several occasions that while the visa on arrival has bought about positives for tourism in Bali, the easily accessible nature of the visa is having detrimental effects on life on the island. His statements this week appear to suggest he wants to see bigger, more all-encompassing changes. 

Following a rise in unruly behavior by tourists Koster and his government subsequently launched not one but two Tourism Task Forces.

The first team is dedicated to following up on reporters of foreigners breaking the rules of their visas on the island. The second is dedicated to stamping out illegal and culturally disrespectful behavior by tourists.

Woman-At-Tirta-Empul-Temple-For-Melukat-Ceremony-in-Bali

But not all officials and tourism stakeholders feel that the visa on arrival alone is to blame for the issues outlined by the provincial leader.

Speaking to reporters, the Chairman of the Bali Hospitality Leaders Association, Sang Putu Eka Pertama, said, “In my opinion, don’t blame VoA. But it is in our system that must be addressed.” 

Pertama noted that stronger enforcement of existing laws and regulations should be sufficient to crack down on disrespectful and illegal behavior by foreigners. 

Two-Surfers-On-Mopeds-With-Surfboards-Attached-Look-Over-Cliff-In-Bali-To-See-Waves

Although Governor Koster proposes changes to the visa on arrival, which could include increasing the cost of the visa or implementing greater restrictions on the policy, the Indonesian Minster for Tourism and Creative Economies has said that a full investigation will be needed. 

Speaking to reporters, Minster Sandiaga Uno said, “The government is still studying and needs to hold further discussions regarding the Governor of Bali Wayan Koster’s proposal to revoke Visa on Arrival (VoA) for Russian and Ukrainian tourists because many are acting up and worrying the public.”

Tourist-Family-Look-Over-Twin-Lakes-Tamblingan-Buyan-in-North-Bali-Buleleng

He added, “Revoking VoA cannot be done immediately in a selective way. At the Coordinating Meeting for Controlling Foreign Tourists…it was decided that the Governor of Bali’s proposal regarding the revocation of visit visas for Russian tourists and Ukraine need to be re-examined.”

For now, the visa on arrival is still available for the ninety-two countries as stipulated by the Indonesian Department of Immigration. Officials from the department have issued statements in the last few weeks reminding travelers that there is only one official website to apply for the e-Visa on arrival.

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Bohdi

Friday 16th of June 2023

Just a thought, but before covid lockdowns the visa on arrival was free. Now every foreign tourist pays 500 k on arrival. There was over 3 million foreign tourists arriving between January and April 2023. And the government is proposing a new tourist tax. Why? Where does all the money collected by immigration go? Does it support Bali tourism and infrastructure projects? As for not wanting backpackers and only high end tourists, the backpackers spend more money supporting the local communities , eating at warungs and visiting local shops and businesses. High end tourists stay in expensive resorts and eat at the restaurants owned by the resorts. Or go on organized tours which benefit the same restaurants and businesses each time, favouring a select few. Just before Christmas and new years 2021 the government changed the entry regulations for domestic tourists flying in saying that everyone needed a pcr test instead of a rapid test, which is around 5 times more expensive. There was over 70-80% cancellations throughout Bali over the next few days because of this. A few days later after realising it was a mistake the rule was reversed, but it was already too late. It was just another blow to Bali tourism and the struggling businesses. These rules that seemingly just get proposed without thinking of the effects to local businesses should be discussed with the local communities and leaders before being announced. Bali has always been a welcoming place for everyone, no matter if you stay at a family run losman or a high end resort. I hope it remains this way and doesn't push away the many people who have supported it throughout the decades and have returned and supported Bali after each disaster.

Ian

Tuesday 13th of June 2023

The locals litter far more than the tourists ! After every ceramony the beaches are a disgrace 2 loud motorbikes ridden by locals are a massive problem 3 machanivally alterted lorries that screem

through their exhausts are a disgrace and getting more common 4 stray dogs are out of control 5 police only seem to be there to clear the way for vips ?!?!?! 6 this new bashing of foreigners will simply drive them away to Thailand etc where even now more people are going as they don’t need a vaccine it’s as if bali has a death wish ?????

Mr Bear Snr

Friday 9th of June 2023

What's going to happen when tourists fly into Jakarta instead, then fly or drive into Bali? What about all the regular visitors who have purchased Cars and Motorcycles, albeit they are in an Indonesians name? What will the police do with them, confiscate(steal)the vehicle?

DAVID

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

I HAVE BEEN GOING TO BALI 30 DSYS AT A TIME SINCE 1984.BUT AM LOSING RESPECT .. IT NO LONGER A FAVE DEST.THE RUBBISH ENCOUNTERED ON THE BEACHES ..BACK STREETS IS JUST A LACK OF GOV ACTION.BURNING RUBBISH IS DISGUSTING ..NOXIOUS FUMES..BURYING ON THE BEACH AS WELL AND THROWING IN THE RIVERS AND CANALS IS REDICULOUS ..AS NEXT BIG RAINS OR KING TIDE ITS BACK AGAIN...TOURISTS ARE LOSING RESPECT FOR BALI .ITS THE GREED OF THE GOV THATS DESTROYING BALI.. IT SHOULD BE A DAILY ROUTINE FOR GOV TO USE MODERN EQUIPMENT TO CLEAN THE MAIN BEACHES EVERY FEW DAYS AND SORT ALL PLASTIC TO RECYCLE !! BAN THE SALE OF HOME MADE ARAK!! ITS TOO POTENT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE ..SENDS THEM INTO TEMPORARY INSANITY..ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE AREADY BOGONS !! VETTTE ALL VISITORS FROM OZ WHO ARE COVEREDIN TATTOOS !!

William Dayner

Tuesday 6th of June 2023

We visited Ubud recently and were aghast at the large amount of slovenly tattooed Russians with their barefoot children running amok. These people cannot read your requests and could care less. They now appear to live here permanently and act just like the craziest locals, use all of the cheapest services, steal from the stores and have babies at the local Bidens. They race around half naked all day and night on their N Max's and have no regard for anyone, not even their own lives, it appears. Your answer to all your problems lies with Immigration and who is allowed in here, because once they arrive it's obvious there are no rules. If Bali and Ubud is to remain anything Balinese this much be quickly brought under control.

Firechef

Wednesday 7th of June 2023

@William Dayner, Is like that in the USA also. Russians are the scum of the earth and have no respect for anything or anyone.