Of all the proposed changes in legislation that have been put on the table in recent weeks, the news that the provincial government of Bali is seriously considering increasing the visa on arrival for tourists is surely the one that will get prospective travelers talking.
Indonesia’s visa on arrival is one of the most accessible visas in the world. Open to citizens from 92 countries and costing IDR 500,000 (USD 33), the visa makes it easier than ever for tourists to visit the country’s leading destinations like Bali.
Before the pandemic, however, the initial 30-day visa on arrival was free for the majority of Bali’s most frequent visitors.
Travelers from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, the UK, and many parts of Europe did not have to pay for their visas on arrival.
Travelers who arrived in Indonesia knowing that they wanted to extend their visa on arrival opted to pay IDR 500,000 upon landing and then again to extend their time in Indonesia by an additional 30 days.
@kyu00055 Finally hello bali 😍🛬 #bali #ngurahraiinternationalairport #citlink #holiday ♬ Landing di Bali – Faizal Maulana
When the set fee for all visa-on-arrival tourists was introduced when borders reopened in February 2022, the added cost triggered mixed feelings for Bali lovers.
While some were happy to pay the IDR 500,000 per person fee to help support the country in its recovery from the pandemic, others weren’t so happy at the additional cost eating into their vacation budget.
Following an apparent increase in unruly behavior by tourists in Bali and the high increase in viral videos of tourists breaking the law, leaders in Bali are hustling to ensure that the public image of the island as a world-class travel destination is preserved.
This is leading to tourism stakeholders tabling all kinds of solutions to help prevent and eliminate any tourists who are at risk of breaking the law, in turn attracting only ‘high quality’ tourists to the island.
One solution, as has been alluded to by Bali’s Governor Koster, several high-profile economists on the island, and now the Head of the Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Anggiat Napitupulu, is to increase the visa on arrival fee.
Napitupulu told reporters that work is underway to facilitate a serious and formal dialogue between the relevant policymakers to discuss the scope of increasing the visa on arrival in Bali.
The issue at hand is that although Bali as a province has the power to implement certain rules and regulations at a local level, the visa on arrival is a national immigration policy, and as such, any rule change would have to be approved by the central government and Directorate General of Immigration.
Napitupulu has revealed, “It’s still being discussed, so it’s not in [an official] format yet, and it’s still being discussed because, judging by the VoA rate, it seems cheap, IDR 500,000. It’s still in the discourse.”
So while it’s not yet being discussed in an official capacity, this is generally how change is made.
An initial idea and statement are made publicly so that they may be ‘socialized’ to gather support on either side, then the official discussion happens in a formal setting, and the solutions are agreed upon and implemented.
It is noteworthy that the proposal to increase the visa-on-arrival fee in Bali has the support of the Head of the Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, who plays a powerful role in the local immigration system in the province of Bali.
While support from local stakeholders for changes to the visa on arrival in Bali grows, the last statements issued by the Indonesian Minster for Tourism and Creative Economies is worth keeping in mind.
Minister Sandiaga Uno has previously offered comment on Governor Koster’s wish to revoke the visa on arrival for Russian and Ukrainian citizens, a proposal that he has made in conjunction with the wish to increase fees.
Minister Uno said, “The government is still studying and needs to hold further discussions regarding the Governor of Bali Wayan Koster’s proposals….”
He noted that the proposals tabled by the Bali Governor must be “re-examined” in great detail.
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