The Bali Tourism Association is calling on the local government and immigration departments to scrap the relatively newly introduced fees for the 30-day tourist visa on arrival. While the visa on arrival used to be free for many countries, including for some of Bali’s most regular visitors from Australia, the U.S., and the UK, in a most pandemic world, the visa now costs IDR 500,000 (USD32).
It used to be the case that the visa on arrival was free for 30-days. If travelers wished to extend the visa one time by a further 30-days, then they had to pay IDR 500,000 for their first 30-days and additional fees for the extension. There has been pushback online against the new system of paying for the visa on arrival, especially from holidaymakers who return to Bali year after year. Notably, for families heading to Bali on vacation, the newly introduced fees added $120 for a family of four, no small amount.
Now the DPD of the Association of Indonesian Travel Companies (Asita) Bali, I Putu Winastra, has told reporters that the Tourism Association is proposing that the visa-on-arrival fees be scrapped to help encourage more people to come to Bali.
It has even been noted by Bali’s Deputy Governor, Cok Ace, that flights to Thailand from Australia have been cheaper than to Bali. Most travelers heading to Thailand are granted a free 30-day visa on arrival, putting the country in a prime position to compete with Bali.
Winastra told reporters, ‘Because, with the free visa, it will increase visits. We get the data that there is a 75 percent increase when visits from Visa On Arrival (VOA) become free visas’. He noted that although the nine partner countries in ASEAN have a reciprocal free visa-on-arrival agreement, other countries on the list should be eligible for a free 30-day visa too.
The Chairman also expressed his belief that the newly announced 10-year second home visa is helpful for only a tiny number of Bali’s visitors and wannabe residents. He said, ‘the visa [for[ second home, the travel agent does not benefit…indeed, our hope is what is the policy of Mr. President to open free visas again as before the pandemic’.
Winastra continued to explain, ‘Meanwhile, before the pandemic 169 countries were [able to access] free visas. We hope for free visas, now if for example, how many people stay here for five years, there are one million, it’s impossible. Our hope is how the free visa is actually implemented’.
He noted that the cost and inconvenience of the current visa-on-arrival system should be addressed. He said, ‘For example, there are tourists from France using visas on arrival, while their husbands or wives are in countries that are not visa-on-arrival, it becomes an obstacle too. They have to supply visas, and so on. It’s burdensome in the context of time. Meanwhile, other countries that are competitors for Indonesia have already applied it [free VoA]’.
When asked how scrapping the fee may impact the tourism economy, Winastra said the loss of income from fees would be worth it in the long run. He said, ‘It may have an economic impact on the length of stay, but overall it doesn’t. Moreover, it is hoped that those who can get the length of stay have property, especially if they have property here, what does Asita need, they don’t need anything’.
Earlier this week announced the launch of a new 10-year second home visa. The new visa category will allow foreigners with over $130,000 in the bank to apply for a 10-year temporary residency permit for Bali and across Indonesia. The visa category aims to attract high earners, retirees, and highly skilled digital nomads to invest in building a life in Indonesia.
It remains the case that the most appropriate visa for short to mid-term digital nomad visa in Bali is the up to 6-month B211a socio-cultural visa. Ministers have confirmed that a long-term digital nomad visa is in the pipeline.
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