The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bali have confirmed that they will be submitting a proposal to the central government of Indonesia requesting that the visa on arrival program is extended to include all 198 of the world’s recognized countries.
In a bold move, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Bali, also commonly referred in English to as the Bali Tourism Association, will be lodging a proposal to expand Indonesia’s newly resumed visa on arrival program. The visa on arrival program was resumed in phases as of February 2022, when borders officially reopened. As of the 28th of April 2022, the government added an additional 17 countries to the list, taking the total number of countries to sixty. This was considered sufficient and saw Indonesia’s visa on arrival program open to as many countries as it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The visa on arrival program is currently open to travelers from South Africa, United States of America, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Philippines, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Germany, Cambodia, Canada, South Korea, Croatia, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Myanmar, Norway, France, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, New Zealand, Seychelles, Singapore, Cyrus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor Leste, China, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Vietnam, and Greece.
The visa on arrival is not free. The charge is 500,000 IDR ($35), is valid for 30-days, and can be extended one time within Bali. There have been rumors that there are plans to triple the visa on arrival fee. In a recent press statement, Bali Governor Wayan Koster denied this.
There would be an immediate backlash at such a staggering increase. It is clear that the Indonesian government is keen to be seen as keeping everyone as happy as they can be it comes to policies around travel and tourism as the world opens back from Covid-19.
The Bali Tourism Office have told local reporters that they believe increasing the visa on arrival to 198 would help speed up the recovery of Bali’s tourism sector and in turn the national economy. They cited that over the Eid Al-Fitr holiday that hotel occupancy across Bali increased to 60% but that there has since been a drop off in visitor numbers.
They said that they hope international tourist numbers will increase as Europe and North America head into the summer and as Australia and New Zealand move closer to the long winter school holidays.
Such a move would be a world first. At present, there is no country in the world that issues a visa on arrival to every other country in the world. Visa on arrival programs are often bilateral, reciprocal agreements, meaning if one country agrees to offer a visa on arrival for the citizens of another country, that other country will mirror the offering.
Though this is often the case for countries that also have other strong shared political ties, such as trade agreements. For example, a visitor from the USA may visit Indonesia and receive a visa on arrival, but an Indonesian citizen must apply for a visa before visiting the USA. Yet an Indonesian traveler may visit any nation within the ASEAN trade block and received a 30-day visa on arrival.
There are significant political implications involved in opening the visa on arrival program to the world’s 198 recognized countries. Some commentators may call it a short-sighted or even desperate attempt to keep tourism numbers from their natural ebb and flow.
Others may call it a stroke of genius that would position Indonesia as a world leader in an increasingly globalized world. Though the proposal is likely to be declined by the central government the proposal has certainly been food for thought for the hospitality and tourism sector in Bali.
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